Old-Fashioned Tech Terms You Still Use Today

Old terminology dies hard. Though technology changes swiftly from day to day, there are still old-fashioned terms we cling to, using them frequently even though they no longer have a relevant meaning.

• ‘Dial’ – Plenty of people still say they’re “dialing” a phone number. The term goes back to the beginning of the telephone era, when phones had a rotary dial. Rotary phones haven’t been used for decades, but people still say they’re dialing away.

• ‘Hanging up’ – Unless you’re using a pay phone (which isn’t likely), you aren’t “hanging up” anything. That phrase refers to ending a phone call by placing a corded phone back into its holder, which, most often, literally hung on a wall. Ending a call today usually just requires the click of a button or the tap of a smartphone screen.

• ‘Roll up/down the window’ – In ye olden days, cars had a handle that you needed to rotate in order to pull the window up or down. Modern cars aren’t made with a crank anymore — they just have a button or switch that you can click upward or downward to maneuver the window direction.

• ‘Carbon copy’ – This term originally referred to the days before Xeroxing, when, in order to make copies, you would need to place a sheet of carbon paper behind the original sheet so the ink transferred over. Now, the term lives on in email (when you CC someone, you send them a “carbon copy” of your email). It’s also popular in everyday conversation, calling two similar items carbon copies of each other.

• ‘Tuning in’ – The phrase was popular with radio and TV announcers when audiences had to adjust frequencies. Users literally had to ‘tune in’ to enjoy their programs.

• ‘Rewind’ – This is essentially the universal term for reversing something to watch it again, whether it’s a YouTube video, a movie streaming on Netflix or even a DVD. However, there’s nothing to wind anymore — to rewind something requires physical tape.