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The modem dial tone and other sounds of obsolescence

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Public pay phone booths stand empty inside Grand Central Stationin New York, April 09, 2012.; Credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

When was the last time you heard that distinctive clunk of a pay phone hanging up? Or the screech of a modem coming to life?

They’re the sounds we lived with for decades and once represented cutting edge technology. But as our world gets more connected and our technology gets quieter, these sounds may soon be lost forever.

Technology makers are increasingly trying to make silent products that don’t annoy consumers (remember that Nokia ringtone, anyone?) but what will be lost without the audible reminders that our products are doing their jobs?

That thunk of a cassette tape sliding into a VCR or the shutter click of a manual camera were comforting because we knew our technology was working.

What sounds of technology past do you miss hearing? Will they be replaced with the “bleep” of an iPhone keypad? Gmail chat notifications?

Guest:

Roberto Baldwin, reporter at Wired

 

 The modem dial tone and other sounds of obsolescence  photo

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