Of Durability and Longevity: 7 Extremely Old Tech Products that Are Still Usable

By Brian McNeil (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Brian McNeil (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tech products vary in durability and longevity. Some easily wear down while others last longer than expected. The following are some of the best examples of old tech products built with impressive quality. They have been able to withstand not only years but decades of use and they continue to be usable, albeit less efficiently in comparison to their modern counterparts.

Britain’s Oldest Boob Tube

Used for around 75 years, a 12-inch TV set in a walnut and mahogany case is now considered as Britain’s oldest TV. It is a Marconi type-702 set built in 1936 and it can still be connected to a Freeview box. It has a history of repairs but it proudly claims to have only 30% of its parts replaced throughout the more than 7 decades of service life it had provided. Being an appliance produced in the 30’s, this TV is obviously nowhere near the features and picture quality of modern televisions. It does not even have a remote control. Still, it’s very impressive that it managed to last long enough to represent TV technology from days of yore.

Octogenarian Traffic Light

Traffic lights are expected to last for a long time as they are supposed to be designed to weather the elements throughout seasons. But there’s one traffic light that stands out: a traffic light in Ashville, Ohio designed by Teddy Boor. It claims to be the world’s oldest traffic light and it has not ceased functioning since 1932. However, authorities decided to retire it in 1982 because colorblind people found it difficult to determine if it was green or red. It was brought out again some years ago but because of its antiquity value, it had to be kept back in and is now residing inside Ohio’s Small Town Museum.

Oldest Functioning Light Bulb

Referred to as the “Centennial Light,” a light bulb in Fire Station 6, Livermore, northern California is hailed by the Guinness World Records as the oldest functional light bulb. It managed to stay on for around 111 years. Now, this makes you wonder how incandescent lighting gets assailed for its very short useful life. Designed by Adolphie Chailet (a contemporary of Thomas Edison), the bulb was barely turned off. The longest time it was not it was just a week. Now, it has become an attraction for Livermore’s Fire Station 6.

By LPS.1 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By LPS.1 (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Computer from 1958

FACOM 128B is considered as the world’s oldest computer. Now showcased in Japan’s Ikeda Memorial Hall, this piece of technology from nearly three scores ago continues to be operational until now. It has been upgraded over the years to keep it running but its core system has not been replaced. Unfortunately, using it is no longer practical as it occupies 700 feet of floor space but has a computing power that is even worse than the performance of a calculator. Owners of the FACOM 128B plan to keep it working for two more years until it becomes a retirable “senior citizen.”

Still Functioning 77-Year-Old Refrigerator

Frigidaire has become a word synonymous to refrigerators and one of its 1935 models offers a good representation for the brand as it managed to last for more than three quarters of a century, and counting. It is currently in the running in getting hailed as the world’s oldest working refrigerator. It had never undergone repairs and has continuously been in use. Some parts, however, needed to be replaced. This refrigerator is owned by a near-octogenarian, Rosemary Kinghorn of Marchmont, Edinburgh. It was inherited by Kinghorn from her mother-in-law.

Over-a-Century-Old Working Vacuum Cleaner

Would you mind using a vacuum cleaner that is twice as old as you are? Apparently, Harry Cox of Timperley, England doesn’t. He still owns and uses his extraordinarily old vacuum cleaner that he once rescued from going to a landfill. The unit, a 1904 American Sturtevant vacuum cleaner, is considered as the world’s oldest working vacuum cleaner.

Still Functional Car from 1884

Auctioned and sold for $4.6 million in October 2011, a four-wheeled De Dion-Bouton et Trepardoux (also called “La Marquise”) is dubbed as “The Oldest Car In The World That Still Runs.” It was produced in France in 1884 and is steam-powered. It makes use of coal, wood, and bits of paper as fuel. The car runs at a maximum speed of 38 mph.

See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

See page for author [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hopefully, appliances, equipment and other tech products created at present can be built with the longevity comparable to those of the ones mentioned above. It’s always great to buy something that can be expected to last for decades.