24. Yellow Pages
This year will be pivotal for the global Yellow Pages industry. Much like
newspapers, print Yellow Pages 20 will continue to bleed dollars to their
various digital counterparts, from Internet Yellow Pages (IYPs), to local
search engines and combination search/listing services like Reach Local and
Yodle Factors like an acceleration of the print 'fade rate' and the looming
recession will contribute to the onslaught. One research firm predicts the
falloff in usage of newspapers and print Yellow Pages could even reach 10%
this year -- much higher than the 2%-3% fade rate ;seen in past years.
23. Classified Ads
The Internet has made so many things obsolete that newspaper classified ads
might sound like just another trivial item on a long list. But this is one
of those harbingers of the future that could signal the end of civilization
as we know it. The argument is that if newspaper classifieds are replaced by
free online listings at sites like Craigslist.org and Google Base, then
newspapers are not far behind them.
22. Movie Rental Stores
While Netflix is looking up at the moment, Blockbuster keeps closing store
locations by the hundreds. It still has about 6,000 left across the world,
but those keep dwindling and the stock is down considerably in 2008,
especially since the company gave up a quest of Circuit City. Movie Gallery,
which owned the Hollywood Video brand, closed up shop earlier this year.
Countless small video chains and mom-and-pop stores have given up the ghost
21. Dial-up Internet Access
Dial-up connections have fallen from 40% in 2001 to 10% in 2008. The
combination of an infrastructure to accommodate affordable high speed
Internet connections and the disappearing home phone have all but pounded
the final nail in the coffin of dial-up Internet access.
20. Phone Landlines
According to a survey from the National Center for Health Statistics, at the
end of 2007, nearly one in six homes was cell-only and, of those homes that
had landlines, one in eight only received calls on their cells.
19. Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs
Maryland's icon, the blue crab, has been fading away in Chesapeake Bay. Last
year Maryland saw the lowest harvest (22 million pounds) since 1945. Just
four decades ago the bay produced 96 million pounds. The population is down
70% since 1990, when they first did a formal count. There are only about 120
million crabs in the bay and they think they need 200 million for a
sustainable population. Over-fishing, pollution, invasive species and global
warming get the blame.
For the better part of three decades, the VCR was a best-seller and staple
in every American household until being completely decimated by the DVD, and
now the Digital Video Recorder (DVR). In fact, the only remnants of the VHS
age at your local Wal-Mart or Radio Shack are blank VHS tapes these days.
Pre-recorded VHS tapes are largely gone and VHS decks are practically
nowhere to be found. They served us so well.
17. Ash Trees
In the late 1990s, a pretty, iridescent green species of beetle, now known
as the emerald ash borer, hitched a ride to North America with ash wood
products imported from eastern Asia. In less than a decade, its larvae have
killed millions of trees in the Midwest, and continue to spread. They've
killed more than 30 million ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, with
tens of millions more lost in Ohio and Indiana. More than 7.5 billion ash
trees are currently at risk.
16. Ham Radio
Amateur radio operators enjoy personal (and often worldwide) wireless
communications with each other and are able to support their communities
with emergency and disaster communications if necessary, while increasing
their personal knowledge of electronics and radio theory. However,
proliferation of the Internet and its popularity among youth has caused the
decline of amateur radio. In the past five years alone, the number of people
holding active ham radio licenses has dropped by 50,000, even though Morse
Code is no longer a requirement.
15. The Swimming Hole
Thanks to our litigious society, swimming holes are becoming a thing of the
past. '20 /20' reports that swimming hole owners, like Robert Every in High
Falls, NY, are shutting them down out of worry that if someone gets hurt
they'll sue. And that's exactly what happened in Seattle. The city of
Bellingham was sued by Katie Hofstetter who was paralyzed in a fall at a
popular swimming hole in Whatcom Falls Park. As injuries occur and lawsuits
follow, expect more swimming holes to post 'Keep out!' signs.
14. Answering Machines
The increasing disappearance of answering machines is directly tied to No 20
in our list -- the decline of landlines. According to USA Today, the number of
homes that only use cell phones jumped 159% between 2004 and 2007. It has
been particularly bad in New York; since 2000, landline usage has dropped
55%. It's logical that as cell phones rise, many of them replacing
traditional landlines, that there will be fewer answering machines.
13. Cameras That Use Film
It doesn't require a statistician to prove the rapid disappearance of the
film camera in America. Just look to companies like Nikon, the professionals
choice for quality camera equipment. In 2006, it announced that it would
stop making film cameras, pointing to the shrinking market -- only 3% of its
sales in 2005, compared to 75% of sales from digital cameras and equipment.
12. Incandescent Bulbs
Before a few years ago, the standard 60-watt (or, yikes, 100-watt) bulb was
the mainstay of every U.S. home. With the green movement and
all-things-sustainable-energy crowd, the Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb (CFL)
is largely replacing the older, Edison-era incandescent bulb. The EPA
reports that 2007 sales for Energy Star CFLs nearly doubled from 2006, and
these sales accounted for approximately 20 percent of the U.S. light bulb
market. And according to USA Today, a new energy bill plans to phase out
incandescent bulbs in the next four to 12 years.
11. Stand-Alone Bowling Alleys
Bowling balls. US claims there are still 60 million Americans who bowl at
least once a year, but many are not bowling in stand-alone bowling alleys.
Today most new bowling alleys are part of facilities for all types of
recreation including laser tag, go-karts, bumper cars, video game arcades,
climbing walls and glow miniature golf. Bowling lanes also have been added
to many non-traditional venues such as adult communities, hotels and resorts
and gambling casinos.
10. The Milkman
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 1950, over half of the
milk delivered was to the home in quart bottles, by 1963, it was about a
third and by 2001, it represented only 0.4% percent. Nowadays most milk is
sold through supermarkets in gallon jugs. The steady decline in home
delivered milk is blamed, of course, on the rise of the supermarket,
better home refrigeration and longer-lasting milk. Although some milkmen
still make the rounds in pockets of the U.S., they are certainly a dying
9. Hand-Written Letters
In 2006, the Radicati Group estimated that, worldwide, 183 billion e-mails
were sent each day. Two million each second. By November of 2007, an
estimated 3.3 billion Earthlings owned cell phones, and 80% of the world's
population had access to cell phone coverage. In 2004, half-a-trillion text
messages were sent, and the number has no doubt increased exponentially
since then. So where amongst this gorge of gabble is there room for the
elegant, polite hand-written letter?
8. Wild Horses
It is estimated that 100 years ago, as many as two million horses were
roaming free within the United States. In 2001, National Geographic News
estimated that the wild horse population had decreased to about 50,000 head.
Currently, the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory board states that
there are 32,000 free roaming horses in ten Western states, with half of
them residing in Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management is seeking to reduce
the total number of free range horses to 27,000, possibly by selective
7. Personal Checks
According to an American Bankers Assoc. report, a net 23% of consumers plan
to decrease their use of checks over the next two years, while a net 14%
plan to increase their use of PIN debit. Bill payment remains the last
stronghold of paper-based payments -- for the time being. Checks continue to
be the most commonly used bill payment method, with 71% of consumers paying
at least one recurring bill per month by writing a check. However, on a
bill-by-bill basis, checks account for only 49% of consumers' recurring bill
payments (down from 72% in 2001 and 60% in 2003).
6. Drive-in Theaters
During the peak in 1958, there were more than 4,000 drive-in theaters in
this country, but in 2007 only 405 drive-ins were still operating. Exactly
zero new drive-ins have been built since 2005. Only one reopened in 2005 and
five reopened in 2006, so there isn't much of a movement toward reviving the
5. Mumps & Measles
Despite what's been in the news lately, the measles and mumps actually,
truly are disappearing from the United States. In 1964, 212,000 cases of
mumps were reported in the U .S. By 1983, this figure had dropped to 3,000,
thanks to a vigorous vaccination program. Prior to the introduction of the
measles vaccine, approximately half a million cases of measles were reported
in the U.S. annually, resulting in 450 deaths. In 2005, only 66 cases were
4. Honey Bees
Perhaps nothing on our list of disappearing America is so dire; plummeting
so enormously; and so necessary to the survival of our food supply as the
honey bee. Very scary. 'Colony Collapse Disorder,' or CCD, has spread
throughout the U.S. and Europe over the past few years, wiping out 50% to
90% of the colonies of many beekeepers -- and along with it, their
3. News Magazines and TV News
While the TV evening newscasts haven't gone anywhere over the last several
decades, their audiences have. In 1984, in a story about the diminishing
returns of the evening news, the New York Times reported that all three
network evening-news programs combined had only 40.9 million viewers. Fast
forward to 2008, and what they have today is half that.
2. Analog TV
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 85% of homes in the U.S.
get their television programming through cable or satellite providers. For
the remaining 15% -- or 13 million individuals -- who are using rabbit ears
or a large outdoor antenna to get their local stations, change is in the air
If you are one of these people you'll need to get a new TV or a converter
box in order to get the new stations which will only be broadcast in digital
1. The Family Farm
Since the 1930s, the number of family farms has been declining rapidly.
According to the USDA, 5.3 million farms dotted the nation in 1950, but this
number had declined to 2.1 million by the 2003 farm census (data from the
2007 census hasn't yet been published). Ninety-one percent of the U.S. farms
are small family farms.
Change is interesting...but to us "old" folks also somewhat disheartening.
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