icons prove a picture

Obsolete Computer Science Metaphors

How we have progressed. And along the way, of course, many technologies and ideas that had their time have remained . Or maybe they didn’t even have it. Some of those ideas, however, penetrated very deeply, and ended up being representative of tasks that we do very frequently in our day to day at the computer.

They are those computer metaphors that we live with and that have lost some meaning because they have become obsolete concepts. They say that an image is worth a thousand words, but … isn’t it about time that those images, ideas and concepts were updated a bit?

The floppy disk, the legend
The icons of the applications that we use every day are a perfect example of the use of these metaphors. The floppy disk that represents the action of saving a file – another curious concept, more on this later – is one of the clear timeless elements of applications that we install or find online.

Funny, especially when these elements have literally become part of the past . It was rare to see support for these drives on motherboards back in 2010, but Apple already got rid of these old fellow travelers a decade earlier when it released its first iMacs with a CD drive but no floppy drive.

Other manufacturers were following this trend , and for example Dell would announce in February 2003 that floppy drives could only be added as an option by other manufacturers in their Dell Dimension.

Iconography that works
There are quite a few perennial icons that have also managed to outperform the objects that inspired them. The phone used to call and hang up calls on Skype, Google Hangouts or on many of our smartphones might have been replaced by the icon of a modern smartphone, but it has not.

What to say about the famous envelope for (physical) letters that is also constant in all kinds of services that want to represent the sending of an email message. It is much more logical to take advantage of this concept, as in the previous cases, since a good part of computer users have grown up knowing these objects in their daily lives.

There are concepts even older in time, such as the magnifying glass , the icon that is always associated with searches, or that hourglass that for a long time – it is one of the few that has been disappearing over time – was the symbol which indicated that we had to wait a few moments for a certain running process to finish.

For those of us who have only used a physical hourglass in games like Pictionary, the association is equally curious, although clearly outdated.

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