Can You Identify These Vintage Items?

SHOPPING

Maria Trimarchi

7 Min Quiz

Image: George Marks/RetrofileRF/GettyImages

About This Quiz

When it comes to vintage items, you can enjoy a great nostalgic moment looking at all the images in this quiz. And, if you're lucky, you'll have kept or are buying the vintage items that will be treasured in the future. Just think about "Antiques Roadshow" where they value different kinds of antiques. Many times, an item was worth next to nothing until it aged and became scare. Then it was worth the big money.

Why is something "vintage"? It's usually not just old (over 20 years), but well made. Today, in our disposable society, we no longer expect anything to last more than a few years. And then it's usually time for an upgrade! When you look at the items on this quiz, many are obsolete. However, those that are well-made, or can be transformed into works of art, or re-purposed, are worth much more. Or with beautiful clothes, they can be redesigned or will come back into style soon enough.

Whether you're a collector of record albums, love vintage jewelry, or have a place in your heart for an old Walkman, you can forget the resale, consignment and thrift shops. Instead, take a stroll through the past as you look at photos of vintage items. It's worth a little browse time. Take the quiz now.  

What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

The very first Yellow Pages directory was printed in 1886, after a printer in Wyoming ran out of white paper. The Yellow Pages differs from the White Pages because it's a directory of businesses rather than a directory of people living in a certain geographical area.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Need to wash your clothes before the washing machine was invented? Try a washboard -- clothes are first soaked, then rubbed against the ridged metal, which was less invasive than beating clothing on a rock, as was once the option. The traditional fluted metal washboard was patented in the U.S. in 1833, and continues to be used in many parts of the world still today.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Vending machines dispensing full-sized packs of cigarettes aren't a new phenomenon -- they were used in taverns in 17th-century England. In the 21st century, self-serve machines were banned in many countries, including the United States, where the sales of cigarettes is prohibited to anyone under the age of 18.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Encyclopedias are a set of books containing summaries of thousands of topics, usually ordered alphabetically. Beginning in the late 20th century, digital, online, and open-source versions have overtaken printed books.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Eight-track tapes were an endless-loop cartridge format that was popular in the U.S. in the mid-1960s through 1982 when they were phased out. Although independent artists may still today release 8-track tapes every once in a while, the last mainstream cartridge released was Fleetwood Mac’s "Greatest Hits" in 1988.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

In the late 1980s, the U.S. began banning smoking on airplanes, and by 1990, smokers could not light up if a flight was under six hours in duration. In 2000 cigarette smoking was banned on all flights flying in and out of the U.S., regardless of duration.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Digital photography has taken over the film world, but film isn't obsolete -- yet. It's not the go-to it used to be, though, and there was a time when you needed to drop your roll of film off and wait for your prints to be developed, which was not a while-you-wait experience. But, then, how else would you find out that all 24 exposures on the roll turned out blurry?

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Some albums were too small to fit on your turntable. What to do? Play them with a snap-in plastic insert made to fit, for instance, 45 rpm records. The insert would snap into the large hole in the center of the record, and slide onto the turntable's spindle.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

People have been grinding beans for coffee for thousands of years, but not with anything like a burr grinder that we know today. Around 800 A.D. Ethiopians pulverized their coffee beans with a mortal and pestle. And prior to that, Greeks used a coffee grinder mill. It was Thomas Jefferson's dentist, Thomas Bruff, who patented the first coffee grinder in the United States, where, today, most manual grinders have been replaced with electric ones, for their speed and convenience. These days you might only need a hand-crankable coffee grinder if your power goes out and you don't want to leave the house for your coffee.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

All incandescent light bulbs were officially phased on at the end of 2013, replaced with bulbs that use about 25 percent less energy. The three common types of incandescent bulbs used in American homes were the standard, energy-saving, and flood (or spot).

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

The first Blockbuster movie rental store opened in Dallas, Texas, on October 19, 1985, with about 8,000 rental tapes to choose from. By the early 1990s, they had launched 1,000 stores around the United States, and 2008 as many as 8,000 were open. But with the debut of streaming media, such as Netflix, the popularity waned, and doors shuttered.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Television test signals were broadcast usually at sign-on and sign-off. That's right, there was a time when television wasn't 24/7. Typically, the National Anthem would be played at sign-off, followed by the test pattern -- shown when the station was transmitting a signal but did not have any programming being broadcast.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Having a milkman from a local dairy or creamery who delivered milk and other dairy-related items was totally normal if you grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. When the cost of store-bought milk and dairy items began to drop, by 1975, only 6.9 percent of American homes had home milk delivery. By 2005 that dropped to a (very) low 0.4 percent, but there are some small dairies that are making an effort to provide this service to their small group of customers.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Rabbit ears are one of the oldest, and perhaps one of the most widely-used indoor antennas for TV sets. While they won't help you with your digital signal, this type of antenna, a half-wave dipole antenna, receives VHF bands -- which means you can pick up local stations with them. By comparison, UHF antennas are the ones that look like little bowties.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

The digital alarm clock was patented in the 1950s, and over the years, many types have come and gone through our homes -- including the first digital watch with an LED display, in 1970, as well as on all sorts of devices, like microwave ovens and mobile phones. But before the digital clock, timepieces relied on mechanical rotating hands to display the hour (the short hand) and minute (the long hand).

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

GPS-enabled devices have overtaken our reliance on paper maps. But foldable paper roadmaps aren't dead -- at least not yet. Although there isn't a large audience using them anymore, paper maps are still relied upon by some as a backup for when their phone battery dies or they find themselves in an area with spotty coverage.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Before personal computers, you would have typed your documents on a typewriter. Although the backspace key did go back a letter, it didn't erase a mistake. To erase typewriter ink, you needed a typewriter eraser like this -- and the little brush was used to sweep away the eraser debris when you were done.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Also known as a "wing window" or "quarter glass," these triangle-shaped windows were hinged, able to be opened for ventilation -- or to put out a cigarette. They were supposed to blow cool air into cars that didn't have air conditioning, but as it turns out, it made for an easy way for a thief to break in -- and by the 1980s, they had pretty much been phased out.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Coin-operated telephones, usually found in a booth or in a collection known as a bank, required pre-payment before making a call, usually coins, although later pre-paid calling cards and credit cards were also accepted. Outdoor public payphones were first introduced in the early 1900s -- the first was installed in downtown Hartford, Connecticut. Skip ahead 100 years later, and more than 2 million payphones were scattered across the United States.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Before other formats took over in the 1990s, floppy disks were used as the primary storage medium for computers and word processors in the 1970s and 1980s. They came in three sizes, including 8-inch, 5 1/4-inch, and 3 1/2-inch, and a floppy disk drive was needed to read and write on them.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

There was a time when you used the library card catalog -- drawers full of paper cards with bibliographic information such as author’s name, book title, and the shelf you'd find it on. It was the library's inventory, and could be sorted grammatically or mechanically. Today, libraries use the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), which is the world’s first shared, online catalog system.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Landline telephones were wired, and to work, these fixed phones needed to be plugged into a telephone jack, which was usually installed in a wall or on a baseboard in your home. The switch was originally developed by the Western Electric Company.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

In the 1970s, red M&M were discontinued because of concerns about red food dye, but were brought back in 1987, among dark brown, green, orange, tan, and yellow. Tan? Yup! Tan was part of the color lineup until 1995, but was removed when candy consumers voted to add the color blue to the bag.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Before the invention of the pencil sharpener, people sharpened their pencils with sand paper or whittled them with small knives. The crank-powered pencil sharpener wasn't the first invented, but it was the first to really catch on. It used two rotating milling disks that were turned by a manual crank.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

There were primarily two competing technologies in the late 1970s through the 1980s, VHS and Betamax. Although Betamax, pioneered by Sony, was the first video cassette format, it lost the "format wars" to its rival, VHS, created by Japan's JVC.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

People have tried some crazy things to make sure they wake up on time, including beds that would dump you onto the floor (sadly, they no longer exist). But when it comes to the standalone alarm clock, while it's not dead yet, it's on life support. The overwhelming majority, 95 percent, of Americans have a cellphone with an alarm clock feature. And as of 2014, we've been using those alarm apps a lot -- more than we use our phones as, well, phones.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

The compact cassette, what we now call an audio cassette, was introduced at the Berlin Radio Show in 1963, and made its debut in the U.S. in November 1964 -- just after the 8-track cassette hit the market. Tapes were relatively inexpensive, could be overwritten (unless you popped the notches on the top), and compared to the 8-track tapes that lacked the capability, now you could rewind. The introduction of the compact audio disc (CD) in the 1980s began the demise of the cassette tape.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

In 1935, a new format for photos was invented: 35mm slide film. And to view them, you had a 35mm slide projector. In the 1950s, this was often cause for getting together to view vacation slides and maybe share some dip. Although you could purchase a slide projector in the 21st century, production was discontinued in 2009.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Paper checks are becoming obsolete, passed over for a variety of digital payment methods such as debit cards and mobile payments that don't require a stamp. In fact, in 2014, only 7 percent of banking transaction involved a paper personal check (and many people have also given up paper statements for online options).

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Fax, short for facsimile, became a thing in 1964 when the Xerox Corporation patented and debuted the first modern fax machine. It works like this: One fax machine delivers a telephonic transmission of scanned text or image over a telephone line to another machine, which through the tones it receives is able to reconstruct the image or text.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

There was a time when you had to hand crank your window open or closed in your car, rather than just touching a button. It was in 1940 that the very first power windows -- called hydraulic window lifts -- were introduced. By 2008, many automakers had eliminated hand cranks from their vehicle line altogether.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Although earlier versions came out at the turn of the 20th century, rotary dial phones and phone service didn't really catch on in the U.S. until 1919, with the introduction of a popular Western Electric model. The rotary phone was the first phone where users didn't connect to an operator in order to connect a call.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

A flour sifter is used to break up any clumps of flour or other dry ingredients and aerate them, or to combine ingredients (like flour and baking powder or flour and cocoa powder). Although you may see sifters with manual crank handles from time to time, most flour sifters today have a squeeze mechanism in the handle that moves the flour over the screens.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

They can help you get a better price and free perks and upgrades. And they can help you when something goes wrong. Travel agents are a service, not just the key to your boarding pass. But travel agents are a dying breed because people are more and more going online to plan and book their own travel.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Ansafone, created by the Japanese company Phonetel, was the first telephone answering machine sold in the U.S. It was introduced in 1960. Answering machines didn't really become a must-have device in American homes until 1984 when consumers purchased their telephones instead of renting them from the phone company.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Do you know how much a stamp is today? No? We do a lot online that was once through the post office, like online bill pay or sending email instead of a handwritten letter. But studies have found that the very act of writing by hand has some very positive benefits -- benefits that you don't get by sending an email. Letter writing, they say, not only has a positive and long-lasting impact on the relationship between sender and recipient, but it also fosters a positive outlook about life, better mood, and can also be a morale booster.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

The U.S. government during the Cold War planned fallout shelters around the country -- but instead of building new bunkers, existing buildings with protective below-ground level basements were designated as makeshift versions. Designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Director of Administrative Logistics Support Function Robert W. Blakeley, these metallic fallout shelter signs were placed on buildings identified as shelters in the early 1960s.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Before you had your phone, computer, or other smart device in which to store your contacts' names, numbers, and addresses, you had the Rolodex. The device, a wheel, held specially-shaped cards that were organized alphabetically by the last name of each contact. Looking for someone? Give it a spin.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

A church key is not an actual key to a church. It's a hand-operated can and bottle opener that can pry off top and puncture lids. Originally, it was used to open flat top beer cans, which were popular until the 1970s.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Today you just need to tighten the laces, but old-fashioned metal roller skates that strapped onto your shoes needed to be tightened before they could be used -- and that required a skate key. One end tightened the toe grips, and the other would adjust the length of the skate.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Between the late 1920s through the 1960s, you could find self-service tube testing machines at your local grocery store, department store, or drug store. Why is this important? Because early TV sets and a few other housebhold electronics contained vacuum tubes. And if your set wasn't working, you could test them all, buy replacements, and install the new ones -- or you had to call the repairman.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Considering their price, dot matrix printers didn't have the best quality output -- actually, its poor quality was stuff of legend. And in the 1970s and into the 1990s, these were the most common printer choice for home printing.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Between the late 1890s and the late 1980s, S&H Green Stamps were distributed as part of a rewards program run by the Sperry & Hutchinson company. They were distributed at the grocery store (and a few other retailers). You brought them home, licked them and stuck them into the green stamp booklet, then redeemed them for things in the S&H catalogs.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

These alternative handwriting systems are all systems of abbreviation -- the words you write in shorthand are shorter and quicker to write than if you'd used our alphabet. It's been used for taking dictation or in note taking, or in any instance when your writing needs to keep up with a speaker.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Like the iPod, the Sony Walkman changed the industry and our listening habits -- and then was put aside as new formats overshadowed it. The Sony Walkman, the original a silver and blue personal stereo tape player, debuted in the U.S. in 1980 as the "Sound-About." It wasn't until 2010, though, that Sony ended the cassette tape Walkman line.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Once upon a time, you used a dial-up modem to call an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to get online -- it was as easy as dialing a phone number, and waiting for your modem to connect. It was available at some universities in the early 1980s, and debuted to the rest of us in 1992.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

A buttonhook is just as it sounds: a hook that you place over a button to facilitate pulling it through the buttonhole. But the tool also has an unexpected place in history. Some officials on Ellis Island were known among the potential immigrants in the inspection line as the "buttonhook men" -- doctors of the U.S. Public Health Service commonly used these small devices to turn eyelids inside-out when diagnosing those who might be sick with a contagious disease.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Cursive, also known as longhand or script, is a style of penmanship that's supposed to make writing faster. How's that? When writing cursive, your pen doesn't leave the paper much, and that's because all the characters flow together.

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What is this vintage or now-obsolete thing?

Before remote controls went wireless, there were products like these - wired to the set with a 20-foot-long cable. The "Telezoom," as it was called, could do just one thing with the push of a button: enlarge the picture on the screen. The "Flash-matic" was used with 1956 Zenith TVs and known as the first wireless remote - unless you count asking a kid to get up and go change the channel or the volume.

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