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Long-lived standards

  • 19-03-2022 1:30am
    Registered Users Posts: 6,194 ✭✭✭

    My neighbour had an old rotary dial telephone in the shed. It was still working a few years ago until a new crowd moved in and most likely disconnected the landline. But that phone was probably made in the 1950s and still works with today's network. While the first generation of mobile phones made in the 80's/90s already stopped working. 2G and 3G will be disenfranchised soon (already happening in many places) so any phone made before early 2010s will be headed to a bucket in a civic amenity site near you.

    The D-sub ( connector was invented in the 50s. There is still one on my computing machine that is only a few years old. The commonly associated RS-232 standard was created in 1960, so if I had a teletype from the 60's I'd be able to connect it.

    Certain standards stand the test of time while others are subject to endless re-hashes and resulting in each generation of hardware heading to the bin. Ethernet has been around since the 80s and will be around for a long time. It will be interesting to see what is still backward-compatible in another 50 years

    Perhaps in years to come if you plug your 100 year old valve radio or citrus press into the wall it won't work because first it needs to do some encrypted handshake with the ESB who won't give it any power if it isn't on some pre-approved list of authorised devices


  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 68,015 Mod ✭✭✭✭L1011

    The US two prong plug, NEMA1-15, is from 1903 and while there's been some changes to the sockets a 1903 device will plug in. Just please don't do it.

    I think the normal light fittings - Edison screw and bayonet - are both late Victorian but a specific date is harder to find.

    Old phones only work if the exchange (or the ATA device, if used on an IP system) supports pulse dialling. They won't work in some places.

    The most common dsub connector on a PC these days is VGA, plenty of brand new laptops have it for old conference room projectors. Its the actual wire protocol that's important to back compatibility, not the shape of the connector shell.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,184 ✭✭✭riclad

    Everything is going digital, ethernet is the standard wired ip cable, it still more widely used than other data cable standards, its seems there, ll be , 6g phone standards in the future every few years a new phone data transmission standard is announced etc eg company's are working on 8k TV. We still used standard electric plugs which were invented in the 50s. At some point all phones will be digital. Some people still use crt tvs to play old video game consoles. Nes, etc I think people will still be using USB devices in 50 years time I think fm radio will go on for another 30 years as its simple technology and fm radios are cheap to make. I hope that at some point we have one standard charger eg 2amp 5volt USB C and it'll work on any new phone apple or android

    The EU forced phone makers to switch over to USB chargers

    your laptop might work in 20 years but it'll be very slow compared with a new one.

    Apples new pc has 2 old USB a ports as well as USB C.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,359 ✭✭✭jmcc

    Some RF connectors are quite old. The BNC (Bayonet Neil Concelman) was patented in 1951. It was used on 10base2/Ethernet networks. The N-Connector dates from World War 2, I think. Some terminal connectors date back to the 19th century. With phones, a lot of the changes take place on the transmission/connection side of things. Ireland's phone network (under the P&T/Telecom Eireann) moved from the old analogue system to digital over the 1980s and 1990s.

    Early mobile phones might still function (if the batteries haven't died and the electrolytic capacitors haven't dried out or burst) but the analogue mobile phone system on which they depend has been decommissioned. The problem with USB connectors is that they are a kludge and can become quite fragile after multiple connections and disconnections.The mechanical stress can cause problems with charging cables and the sockets.


  • Posts: 25,611 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    3.5mm audio is old enough I think? I imagine the drop-off (after a huge increase) in the last 5-10 years has been huge.

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 90,950 Mod ✭✭✭✭Capt'n Midnight

    The 3.5mm jack is a physically smaller version of the quarter inch jack which has been used since 1878 for telephone switchboards

    QWERTY keyboards to separate common letter combinations.

    Driving on the left / right side of the road.

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  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Technology & Internet Moderators Posts: 90,950 Mod ✭✭✭✭Capt'n Midnight

    The genetic code in DNA's been in use for 4 billion years.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,965 ✭✭✭✭bnt

    If you're in to music production, you'll know about MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface), which dates back to the early 1980s. Earlier this year I bought a new synthesiser (Korg opsix, released in 2021) which has MIDI ports as standard. I plugged in a drum machine I've had since 2004 (Akai MPC1000) and controlled one from the other in both directions. If I had a Yamaha DX7 from 1983 - nearly 40 years ago - it would work, though with some limitations that aren't down to the MIDI standard itself.

    These days, you also get the MIDI protocol transmitted over other physical standards such as USB (which my new synth has too), WiFi & Ethernet, but the old 5-pin ports aren't going away any time soon.

    From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, you son of a bitch’.

    — Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,319 ✭✭✭AllForIt

    They were always a bit annoying in that they could have been designed better so they don't fall out so easily. Can't see they will ever be phased out though. All high end headphones still use the 3.5mm audio jack or the bigger size which is essentially the same design, just bigger.

    I hate the micro usb connection. Should be phased out but is still used in vapers for example. Paid €65 for a new one just last week and am appalled to see it uses a micro usb, and not usbc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,184 ✭✭✭riclad

    Fm radio, shortwave radio,cb radio, bbc is using shortwave radio to broadcast news in russian, when most western media websites are blocked in russia. i think it would be sad to stop using usb micro ,as theres millions of usb micro chargers out there which can be used to charge android phones. i wont buy any phone if it does not have a 3.5mm audio out socket.bluetooth earphones have to be charged .pc vga is still used in tvs and monitors ,simplest way to connect a laptop or pc to a display

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,365 ✭✭✭Ray Palmer

    I think nuts an bolts have a very long standard unlikely to change.

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  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 68,015 Mod ✭✭✭✭L1011

    There's so many different standards there - size, thread pitch etc - that working with older kit is a nightmare.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,365 ✭✭✭Ray Palmer

    There are many standards but they have lasted and will last. I work with older kit all the time and all it takes is the correct tool. My 100 year old spanner still works

  • Posts: 17,378 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Train track guages are practically set in stone. I can't see any country changing what they use in the next century, if ever. The most common standard is used by 55% of railways in the world and was arrived at in 1937.

    Research however has been undertaken which supports the hypothesis that "the origin of the standard gauge of the railway might result from an interval of wheel ruts of prehistoric ancient carriages".

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,365 ✭✭✭Ray Palmer

    Aren't there several gauges already and aren't some of the newer trains trying out completely different tracks too?

  • Posts: 17,378 ✭✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Yeah, there are high speed railways etc. that are different. The different gauges don't mix apart from some places where the trains are modified before continuing. What I meant was it's unlikely that say a regional network would just arbitrarily change their tracks to a different width, or that a new standard would replace the existing one and those 55% of tracks around the world change to the new one.

    Ireland, Australia, and Brazil currently use the same gauge, and Ireland's used it since 1846.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,254 ✭✭✭MrCostington

    Great thread. The ASCII table has been around since the 60's and basically still in use within Unicode.

    What else? international dialing codes, the valve in your car tyre.

    Oddly enough it came into my mind during the weekend, to check is you can still yet round 3 pin plugs, they are in plentiful supply.

  • Moderators, Music Moderators Posts: 11,969 Mod ✭✭✭✭iamstop

    The 7" 45 rpm vinyl record is 72 years young.

    I did a mix 2 years ago to commemorate the 70th.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,194 ✭✭✭Ubbquittious

    Nearly all ride on mowers since the early 70s have the same engine bolt pattern and shaft dimensions. So you could fit a brand new engine on the one below (on the right, the one on the left is actually non standard). Push mowers have different mounting but again all standardised

  • Posts: 266 [Deleted User]

    A lot of basic stuff just gets established and doesn't change much.

    AM radio, FM radio, the electrical circuit and rotary dial for basic analogue phone service (even if delivered by a VoIP device), mains electricity (230V 50Hz or 120V 60Hz - nominally moved from 220V and 110V but are still more or less unchanged), a lot of plumbing systems ... they all became solid standards that things were built on.

    There are absolutely ancient connectors:

    Light bulb holders - the screw type and the bayonet type are extremely old and have been around since the dawn of wiring.

    The phono jack used for headphones, electric guitars, amps and all of that is derived from a 19th century telephone operators' switchboard plug.

    US NEMA non-grounded blade pin plugs are utterly ancient. So is the basic 2-pin non-grounded continental plug. In both cases you could probably plug a modern mobile phone charger directly into a socket from the turn of the 20th century. Even the grounded version used on the continent, 'Schuko' hasn't changed much since the 1920s. The square pin plugs used here these days are a 1940s contraption, probably one of the youngest mains connectors in use.

    The F-connector used for connecting up your Sky or cable box is unchanged since the 1950s and the Belling-Lee connector that you will find on European TVs for the aerial socket, the push in type, is around since the 1920s and probably still compatible.

    Even 'modern' connectors like RJ45 are old telephony connector designs from the late 60s / early 1970s from the Bell System phone network in the US.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,876 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    Believe it or not, there is both English and Irish 'quarter-inch', 'half-inch' plumbing fittings and they are not the feckin same!!

    Talk about a long standing standard that should be ditched.

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  • Posts: 266 [Deleted User]

    I don't know why Ireland uses weird plumbing. Doesn't make any sense from a building costs point of view and I'm not even sure it's required by any regulation.

  • Posts: 266 [Deleted User]

    The other one is battery sizes and types. A lot of them are really old, the AA battery for example is around since 1907.

    There were a whole load of weird sizes that died out over the decades but most of the ones we still use today are from around a century ago.

  • Registered Users Posts: 14,906 ✭✭✭✭CJhaughey

    Roller chain was the first Industry to publish user standards in 1913.

  • Registered Users Posts: 22,065 ✭✭✭✭Esel

    The ASCII table has been around since the 60's and basically still in use within Unicode.

    I'd guess that a lot of 'tech-savvy' people don't know that ASCII is a 7-bit code. Extended ASCII went to 8 bits.

    Not your ornery onager