19 votes

What appliance or technology remained largely the same in the last fifty years?

Could be anything, either simple or complex, general or specific. And it doesn’t need to have remained literally identical, sometimes a product receives minor or external adjustments while maintaining its core.

35 comments

  1. [12]
    Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    Microwave ovens. The basic idea of irradiating food with microwave radiation is still the same now as when these ovens were invented. I recently replaced a 30-year-old microwave oven, and the...

    Microwave ovens. The basic idea of irradiating food with microwave radiation is still the same now as when these ovens were invented. I recently replaced a 30-year-old microwave oven, and the biggest change in microwave technology has been a lack of a turntable.

    22 votes
    1. [2]
      krg
      Link Parent
      Along those lines... toasters. And refrigerators (if you discount some gimmicky touchscreen stuff). Hell, judging by the other responses, most appliances are basically the same as they've ever been.

      Along those lines... toasters. And refrigerators (if you discount some gimmicky touchscreen stuff). Hell, judging by the other responses, most appliances are basically the same as they've ever been.

      12 votes
      1. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        They’ve actually changed a lot, even exempting the modern move to stick computers in everything. Energy star ratings have made them way more energy efficient. Refrigerators no longer use ozone...

        They’ve actually changed a lot, even exempting the modern move to stick computers in everything. Energy star ratings have made them way more energy efficient. Refrigerators no longer use ozone depleting refrigerants. And they’re all much less durable and repairable.

        6 votes
    2. Akir
      Link Parent
      There has been some improvements. Nicer microwaves use a fan to ensure the microwaves are applied more evenly, and there are also PWM-controlled magnetrons to adjust the power being transmitted.

      There has been some improvements. Nicer microwaves use a fan to ensure the microwaves are applied more evenly, and there are also PWM-controlled magnetrons to adjust the power being transmitted.

      12 votes
    3. [6]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      Heck, regular ovens and stoves for that matter! They're either gas or electric, but besides having better electronics, they're still basically doing the same things. (I guess one exception is the...

      Heck, regular ovens and stoves for that matter! They're either gas or electric, but besides having better electronics, they're still basically doing the same things. (I guess one exception is the magnetic induction stovetops, but those are still fairly rare.)

      7 votes
      1. [5]
        Akir
        Link Parent
        Induction stovetops are becoming increasingly common. They are basically the standard at any hot pot restaurant these days.

        Induction stovetops are becoming increasingly common. They are basically the standard at any hot pot restaurant these days.

        2 votes
        1. [4]
          mrbig
          Link Parent
          I suppose they’re practical and safe, but cooking gas is pretty cheap here in Brazil. Electricity not so much.

          I suppose they’re practical and safe, but cooking gas is pretty cheap here in Brazil. Electricity not so much.

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            joelthelion
            Link Parent
            I forgot my coffee pot on the induction stovetop this week-end. When I came back the metal was red-hot, close to melting I would say. I agree they're very convenient, but safety can still be...

            safe

            I forgot my coffee pot on the induction stovetop this week-end. When I came back the metal was red-hot, close to melting I would say.

            I agree they're very convenient, but safety can still be improved :)

            1 vote
            1. imperialismus
              Link Parent
              Some induction stovetops will monitor the temperature of cookware and turn off the power if it gets too hot, but I guess that feature is not universal. The real safety advantage is that things...

              Some induction stovetops will monitor the temperature of cookware and turn off the power if it gets too hot, but I guess that feature is not universal.

              The real safety advantage is that things that aren’t made of the right metal won’t get hot at all, and the actual plate bit barely gives off any heat, because the heat is generated in the cookware itself.

              6 votes
            2. mrbig
              Link Parent
              Gas does explode, however :P

              but safety can still be improved

              Gas does explode, however :P

              2 votes
    4. asoftbird
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Not entirely. Microwaves now also use inverter-type technology instead of the ridiculously heavy transformer that's in them. They've not replaced them entirely, though they save a lot of weight...

      Not entirely. Microwaves now also use inverter-type technology instead of the ridiculously heavy transformer that's in them. They've not replaced them entirely, though they save a lot of weight and cost.

      Thing is, about 80% of the weight of a microwave oven is the transformer, if not more. I've seen transformers of about 15kg or more. Without them, you can practically lift the machine with a finger.

      5 votes
  2. [5]
    sqew
    Link
    I'd say that KitchenAid stand mixers have remained about the same for at least that long, probably much longer. My understanding is that the one my mom still has was purchased by her mother...

    I'd say that KitchenAid stand mixers have remained about the same for at least that long, probably much longer. My understanding is that the one my mom still has was purchased by her mother sometime in the late 60s or early 70s, and it still runs great (although a few bits have been replaced over the years). Those things are tanks.

    11 votes
    1. [4]
      patience_limited
      Link Parent
      If anything, the quality of KitchenAid-brand mixers has gone down - plastic gears, cheap electronics. I gave up after killing 3 (!) 6-quart models on simple, loose bread doughs. The company stood...

      If anything, the quality of KitchenAid-brand mixers has gone down - plastic gears, cheap electronics. I gave up after killing 3 (!) 6-quart models on simple, loose bread doughs. The company stood by the warranty, but I'd rather not waste the time.

      3 votes
      1. [3]
        Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        I think there's a bit of survivalist bias in the notion that all old KitchenAid mixers where super durable. All the ones that broke, nobody told their kids about those. They just gradually wore...

        I think there's a bit of survivalist bias in the notion that all old KitchenAid mixers where super durable. All the ones that broke, nobody told their kids about those. They just gradually wore out and broke and people trashed them.

        There's also the point that someone made on a reddit thread I can't find right now that the plastic parts serve a purpose. If all the gears and attachments are made of metal, when something jams, the motor is powerful enough to destroy itself and all the gears attached to it. With plastic you get less durability, but if something jams the mixer only the small plastic part shreds and you can just replace that small part.

        All that said, I really enjoy mine, had it for about 5 years no complains so far. Finally used the pasta roller for the first time 2 weeks ago!

        12 votes
        1. [2]
          teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          So they’re basically mechanical fuses. Seems like those parts should be made easily accessible like in a fuse box.

          So they’re basically mechanical fuses. Seems like those parts should be made easily accessible like in a fuse box.

          1 vote
          1. MimicSquid
            Link Parent
            If you want them to be easily serviceable as the highest priority, yeah, but an easily accessible fuse box is also a place for liquids and dirt to accumulate, and being able to easily clean the...

            If you want them to be easily serviceable as the highest priority, yeah, but an easily accessible fuse box is also a place for liquids and dirt to accumulate, and being able to easily clean the mixer every time you use it is more important than being able to repair it on an irregular and infrequent basis. That said, it's not particularly difficult to take the case off and make repairs yourself, if you're a DIY sort.

            5 votes
  3. [2]
    synergy-unsterile
    Link
    Toilets, unless you live in Japan.

    Toilets, unless you live in Japan.

    9 votes
    1. stu2b50
      Link Parent
      I have become a bidet believer during this quarantine and I believe that while true in the US, it's a shame.

      I have become a bidet believer during this quarantine and I believe that while true in the US, it's a shame.

      4 votes
  4. joplin
    Link
    Sewing machines, dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers. They all have more functionality due to the electronics, but they still basically work the same, as far as I know.

    Sewing machines, dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers. They all have more functionality due to the electronics, but they still basically work the same, as far as I know.

    8 votes
  5. [3]
    patience_limited
    Link
    Medical syringes and needles. Granted, it's a simple mechanism, but you'd think there'd be an alternative by now to getting stabbed. Yes, there are now transdermal patches, but they're only useful...

    Medical syringes and needles. Granted, it's a simple mechanism, but you'd think there'd be an alternative by now to getting stabbed.

    Yes, there are now transdermal patches, but they're only useful for a handful of medications, and the dosing isn't all that reliable. Also crap if you're allergic to adhesives.

    In the same vein (pun intended), Band-Aids haven't changed much. There are breathable/waterproof films and anti-bleeding colloids, but the costs are prohibitive. The healing properties are essentially the same - keeps dirt and bacteria out, and the drippy bits in.

    7 votes
    1. mrbig
      Link Parent
      Some technologies are just sensible. If you wanna put a liquid inside a vein, a tiny metal tube just make sense. Why complicate it?

      Medical syringes and needles

      Some technologies are just sensible. If you wanna put a liquid inside a vein, a tiny metal tube just make sense. Why complicate it?

      2 votes
    2. joplin
      Link Parent
      Apparently there used to be "jet injectors" but they caused health risks:

      Apparently there used to be "jet injectors" but they caused health risks:

      A jet injector uses high pressure to force a vaccine or other medication through a person's skin. Their speed made jet injectors very efficient, so many people could be vaccinated quickly. They were often used in the military. Although they weren't pain-free, jet injectors didn't involve needles. The result was less discomfort than a needle injection, and they caused less anxiety in people who were afraid of needles.

      In some cases, however, jet injectors could bring blood or other body fluids to the surface of the skin while the vaccine was being administered. Those fluids could contaminate the injector, creating the possibility that viruses could be transmitted to another person being vaccinated with the same device.

      1 vote
  6. [10]
    Omnicrola
    Link
    Fax machines? Related: can we please stop using fax machines?

    Fax machines?

    Related: can we please stop using fax machines?

    6 votes
    1. [9]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      Unfortunately, no. For some (apparently legal?) reasons, here in the US doctors and lawyers prefer them. If you have a lot of health or legal needs, you'll need one along with the landline to use...

      can we please stop using fax machines?

      Unfortunately, no. For some (apparently legal?) reasons, here in the US doctors and lawyers prefer them. If you have a lot of health or legal needs, you'll need one along with the landline to use it (unless you trust random internet companies not to read your documents – which I don't).

      5 votes
      1. [5]
        TheJorro
        Link Parent
        It's more inertia in processes and procedures than any other reason. There's nothing a fax can do that a modern photocopier or even the smartphone document scanning feature can't do. Most places...

        It's more inertia in processes and procedures than any other reason. There's nothing a fax can do that a modern photocopier or even the smartphone document scanning feature can't do. Most places that are modernizing are dropping fax machines very quickly, but the medical and legal fields are still very firmly rooted in older technology for various reasons, from budgetary to logistical issues until now.

        4 votes
        1. [4]
          mrbig
          Link Parent
          Maybe faxes are more easily admissible in court?

          Maybe faxes are more easily admissible in court?

          2 votes
          1. [3]
            TheJorro
            Link Parent
            No more so than any other document, really. It's not like they have fax machines in the actual courtrooms.

            No more so than any other document, really. It's not like they have fax machines in the actual courtrooms.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              mrbig
              Link Parent
              I mean as proof. It's a piece of paper that can be audited. I suppose the telecom provider keeps registers that can be subpoenaed.

              I mean as proof. It's a piece of paper that can be audited. I suppose the telecom provider keeps registers that can be subpoenaed.

              1. TheJorro
                Link Parent
                From that angle, fax actually makes less sense since it's less secure than something like scan and email or an emailed scan straight from a modern photocopier, many of which have data integrity...

                From that angle, fax actually makes less sense since it's less secure than something like scan and email or an emailed scan straight from a modern photocopier, many of which have data integrity tracking features. An email address is verifiable, a fax can come from anywhere. It's not hard to spoof a telephone line to send a fax.

                1 vote
      2. [3]
        Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        It's mostly a convenience thing, and by convenience I mean it's the least inconvenient option. Mostly because even though a lot of the health care system in the US has become more digitized, a lot...

        For some (apparently legal?) reasons, here in the US doctors and lawyers prefer them.

        It's mostly a convenience thing, and by convenience I mean it's the least inconvenient option. Mostly because even though a lot of the health care system in the US has become more digitized, a lot of it still doesn't talk to anything else. My SO is a nurse and does a lot of faxes (or email-to-fax, which let's take a moment to admire the absurdity of that), she's unaware of any legal reason necessitating a fax over another communication method (assuming the other method is HIPAA compliant).

        Here's an article from 2018 giving some more detail on fax machines in American healthcare: https://www.vox.com/health-care/2017/10/30/16228054/american-medical-system-fax-machines-why

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          Akir
          Link Parent
          I got the most plausible explaination from someone who claimed to be loosly involved in the creation of medical recordkeeping technology. Basically, the law was passed so that all hospitals had to...

          I got the most plausible explaination from someone who claimed to be loosly involved in the creation of medical recordkeeping technology.

          Basically, the law was passed so that all hospitals had to have digital records and they had to be standardized and interchangable. The problem is that they didn't actually specify a standard, so everyone is basically copying what the biggest digital recordkeeping company is doing even though it is a closed, proprietary standard which is apparently also terribly designed.

          You might remember a few years ago there were advertisements all over the place for dubious colleges telling you to train for a career in something like "medical billing and coding". That is a direct result of the recordkeeping bill. Everything in healthcare essentially needed to be reduced to a series of codes. Aparabtly practitioners have to be extremely careful with these because there are some codes that are practically identical but if they do the wrong one they risk that the patient's insurance may not pay for the treatments. And this is what happens when everything works well.

          My health insurance is through Kaiser Permanente. They are possibly the most vertically integrated healthcare operation in the US. But do you know what comments I get during just about any kind of examination? Usually a cry of frustration from the doctor trying to wrestle with the computer.

          So yes, I can quite easily imagine how fax machines are a better option for some healthcare workers.

          4 votes
          1. Omnicrola
            Link Parent
            Oh man, fucking billing codes. I actually worked (briefly) on a piece of software that was used for billing out services for a company that provided long-term home care for car accident victims....

            Oh man, fucking billing codes.

            I actually worked (briefly) on a piece of software that was used for billing out services for a company that provided long-term home care for car accident victims. So I got into a little bit of the insanity that it is. The current standard is ICD-10, which was ratified in 1990 and implemented starting in 1994. In the US, we did not begin using it until 2015. There are over 70,000 individual codes in the classification list. Which makes it great for people doing studies and research who want to know very specific variants of things, like if pneumonia is more common in the left or right lung rather than just the prevalence of pneumonia.

            The classifications can get pretty esoteric. The criteria for adding one is apparently only that 1) there needs to be a documented case of the medical condition and 2) someone submitted it for addition. Which is how you get things like this

            • Y92.253 – Injured at an Opera House
            • Z63.1 – Problems in relationship with in-laws

            and my personal favorite

            • V91.07 – Burn due to water skis on fire

            The downside of this is, for the more common every day things, there are often several different things that you could classify someone's medical needs under. Often they are ambiguous and so the doctor is going to give their best guess as to how to classify it, hoping that someone's insurance will cover it. It is not uncommon for insurance to reject a claim if the ICD code is the incorrect variant of a condition, even though they will cover something else. It's really really stupid.

            3 votes
  7. PetitPrince
    Link
    I believe non-stick pan are largely the same, and so are most stuff in the kitchen.

    I believe non-stick pan are largely the same, and so are most stuff in the kitchen.

    4 votes
  8. Kuromantis
    Link
    Pillows, beds, wardrobes, some types of clothing (although most have changed)... I imagine a lot of early industrial revolution stuff (to cite one more, tap water) is not too changed from today.

    Pillows, beds, wardrobes, some types of clothing (although most have changed)... I imagine a lot of early industrial revolution stuff (to cite one more, tap water) is not too changed from today.

    4 votes