Tools & Technology

Innovation & Obsolescence: The Life, Death, and Occasional Rebirth of Technologies

We explore the rhymes and reasons behind the ebbs and flows of technological innovation and obsolescence.

Episode 196 | February 13, 2015

Some technologies flash in the pan so quickly they hardly leave a trace (Google Glass anyone?); while others seem to stick around long past their use by date. And still other creations appear to be gone for good, only to make a comeback within a niche—and likely nostalgic—community. We set out to explore the rhymes and reasons behind these ebbs and flows of technological innovation and obsolescence.First we go to a place where digital nostalgia is alive and well: a vintage video arcade outside of Chicago. Reporter Colleen Pellissier tells the story of one man who dedicates his life to keeping these old and cranky machines running.Then we talk to Ben Gross, a historian of technology and a fellow at CHF. He shares his love of the long-forgotten video disc and explains why nothing is obvious when it comes to the successes and failures of technologies.


Hosts: Michal Meyer and Bob Kenworthy
Guest: Ben Gross
Reporter: Colleen Pellissier
Producer and Editor: Mariel Carr
Music: Courtesy of the Free Music Archive and the Audio Network