15 Jobs From The Past That Technology Made Obsolote

By | June 7, 2016

Human alarm clock

Back in the day, "knocker-uppers" were employed to make sure people woke up on time, usually employing sticks, pebbles, or clubs to knock on the doors and windows of clients.


Are you bored? How about having a well-spoken gentleman read to you to keep you entertained? Lectors are well-spoken gentlemen who were employed to read to large rooms of factory workers and keep them entertained.

Pre-Radar Listener for Enemy Aircraft

Military troops used acoustic mirrors and listening devices to focus and detect the sound of engines from approaching aircraft.

Rat Catcher

It’s pretty much just what it sounds like... these men catch rats before better traps and extermination techniques were introduced.

Bowling Pin Setter

Employees (usually young boys) would have to manually set up the appropriate pins for the next frame.

Human Computer

Yup, calculations and computations were done by a person (usually a young woman) back then.

Chimney Sweep

These men would climb up your chimney and clean out all the soot from a winter of burning fires. Although there are still people who can come and clean out your chimney today, people are now leaning more on mechanized cleaning options — and space heaters.

Ice Cutter

Back in the old days, ice cutters would cut up ice on frozen lakes for people to use in their cellars or make-shift fridges.

Switchboard Operator

Before modern technology, switchboard operators were integral parts of a telephone network’s operation.


Obtaining cadavers through legal means was rare and difficult task in the 19th century, universities had to resort to other means to provide cadavers for their students -- hiring men to remove corpses from graves.


In an age before selfies, daguerreotypists were the earliest photographers who made images of polished silver.


Modern streetlights automatically turn on at dusk, but before this innovation, lamplighters used to light, extinguish and refuel street lamps.

Gandy Dancer

The work involves the laying down and maintaining of the railroad tracks manually. The lining bar was called a “gandy” and the dancing refers to the movement of the workers.


Before modern refrigeration, you wouldn’t have your milk until the milkman delivers it to you, a necessary job seeing how it would spoil if not properly preserved.

Log Driver

Before technology or infrastructure made it possible to transport logs by truck, log drivers would float and guide them down rivers from logging sites to processing areas.

H/T Boredpanda