Jobs That Used to Be Common but No Longer Exist

Source: Seattle Municipal Archives / flickr / CC BY 2.0

Switchboard operator
> In demand approximately until: 1990s

Early telephone systems had to be manually rerouted by switchboard operators to connect calls. The job was largely done by women, who interacted directly with customers, helping them with information and making sure the system ran smoothly. The operators also fixed technical problems, making this one of the few technically oriented jobs available to women in the earlier 20th century. By the 1990s, computer-operated switching systems made the job largely obsolete.

Source: General Photographic Agency / Stringer / Getty Images

Telegraph operator
> In demand approximately until: 1970s

The electric telegraph first became popular in the mid-19th century and continued to see widespread use all the way into the 1970s. Samuel Morse invented an early system to communicate using the machines that was later modified by Alfred Vail to use dots and dashes to send messages. An upgraded version was eventually adopted internationally and remained the most popular way to communicate using the signal devices. Telegraph operators fell out of demand as other forms of wired and wireless communication became more accessible and affordable.

Source: Trojan_Llama / flickr / CC BY 2.0

Town crier
> In demand approximately until: Early 20th century

Once upon a time, the easiest way to get news out was for a person to stand in the middle of a busy part of a town and scream it to the people. For much of history, reproducing written texts was tedious and most people couldn’t read anyway. Town criers would also do things like read out crimes committed at public executions and patrol streets at night.

Source: Authenticated News / Staff / Getty Images

Typists
> In demand approximately until: Late 1990s

In the 1880s, typewriters evolved from a novel invention to one that could save workers a massive amount of time. In turn, the skills needed to operate the devices were In demand and most typists were women. With the rise of computers and expansion of typing skills, specialized typists were no longer needed.

Source: razor512 / Flickr

 VCR Repairman
> In demand approximately until: Late 20th century

Videocassette recorders – VCRs – became popular in the 1970s and were considered cutting-edge technology at the time. These expensive devices required service and repair from trained specialists. While VCR’s are far from the medium of choice these days, there are still some people out there who repair them.

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