Five cables that went the way of dinosaurs
Concerned about sustainability and e-waste, the European Union recently suggested that all smartphones should use the USB-C standard. If that comes true, your iPhone’s lightning cable might go the way of the Dodo.
Don’t feel too sad though. The lightning cable won’t be the first to go obsolete. Neither will it be the last.
In the grand scheme of things, technology advances and cables come and go. Chances are, you’re holding on to some of these cable dinosaurs in some hidden corner of your house.
How many of them do you recognise?
Found on: Old Apple Devices Making its debut in 2003 on another extinct device – the iPod classic – the Apple 30 pin went on to appear on many iconic devices of the early 2000s. The first generation iPhone used this, so did the iPod touch.
It wasn’t just Apple that utilised the 30-pin though. The rise of Apple throughout the decade also meant that many third party manufacturers incorporated the 30-pin into their designs. If you look at and hotels last renovated pre-2010s, you can sometimes still find the 30-pin dock in their entertainment systems. Of course, all good things come to an end. The lightning cable appeared in 2012, and Apple’s love affair with the 30-pin died with the iPhone 4S and iPad 3 in 2014.
Found on: TVs and Monitors
Long before the days of HDMI in the late 1990s, human beings used DVI (Digital Virtual Interface). This clunky cable allowed you to reach resolutions of up to 2,560 x 1,600, and while it did not provide any audio connections, it was groundbreaking for sure back then. Less so today.
Experiences with the DVI cable were mostly frustrating and fiddly. There was always a chance you could bend the pins inside, damaging the cable. Fortunately for us, the reign of the DVI lasted around a decade. By the 2010s, newcomers such as DisplayPort and HDMI started to offer much higher quality imaging. Most monitors today come with HDMI ports – which offer audio support.
Found on: TVs and Monitors Even older than DVI, is VGA, or Video Graphics Array. This cable often comes in black and blue, and debuted in 1987 on ultra-boxy IBM computers. The cool thing about VGA – which hipsters might enjoy – is that it’s analog technology. That means signals were transmitted via digital pulses. Not 1s and 0s.
Say what you will about the VGA cable, but it has had a remarkably long career for a cable. The DVI replaced it in 1999, yes, but you can still find some VGA-adaptors today sold at electronics stores – mostly to ensure backwards compatibility. That’s 34 whole years! And just about time for retirement.
Found on: TVs, and some very old monitors, VCRs, Game Consoles Like the mythical hydra, the legendary composite cable has – you guessed it – three heads, in red, white and yellow. Like the VGA, it’s an analog technology that past its heyday – which was in the pre-2000s.
If you owned a Playstation (1) in the 1990s, you might have remembered using these to connect to your television. Same with the Video Cassette Recorder (VCR). Like the VGA and DVI, HDMI and display have more or less replaced them.
For some weird reason though, modern day TVs still have these ports. Our guess is that it’s used to ensure backward compatibility with VCRs – which amazingly still see use. It’s only a matter of time – so don’t feel too attached to them!
Where you might have seen it: Set-top boxes, TVs, wall ports (which connect to networks) When we say this cable is old, we mean it. The submarine transatlantic cables that facilitated telegraphy first used an early variant of this technology – back in 1858! Amazingly, this cable is still used for cable and the internet in some parts of the world. Make no mistake, when they say ‘cable TV’ – this is the cable they are talking about.
If you subscribed to Singapore Cable Television (later it became Starhub Cable TV), in the 1990s to early 2000s, you might recognise this cable. It’s used to transport signals from a satellite to a TV, or a setup box.
Most consumers won’t be needing this one though, at least in Singapore. Singapore completed it’s national Fibre Optics Network as early as 1998 – which is what coaxials are being replaced by all over the world. For cable users, Starhub Cable TV migrated all its customers to a fibre-optic network in November 2019, firmly cementing the fate of the trusty coaxial cable as obsolete tech locally.https://www.tech.gov.sg/media/technews/five-cables-that-went-the-way-of-dinosaurs