General Question

bolwerk's avatar

What are some jobs or professions that have disappeared or almost entirely disappeared since the 1980s/1990s?

Asked by bolwerk (10305points) January 14th, 2014

Considering a research design on what happens to people whose jobs don’t exist anymore. I’m not talking about migration (e.g., to China) of the job, but actual disappearance of a job that was once considered common. I’m interested in roles from this time period because many people in them conceivably are still in the working lives and it would be interesting to understand how they adjust.

The kind of thing I’m interested in is stuff like milkman, Pullman porter, or typewriter repairer, but these for the most part were already too unusual by the 1980s to be of interest. Some residual examples of people continuing the role are fine, but by and large the role should have been important in the 1980s or 1990s (more interested in 1990s) and almost extinct now.

Finally, I’d like general examples the general public would be familiar with. It’s okay if technology is why the job disappeared, but I’m not interested in narrow categories. I’m sure plenty of OS/2 or A/UX system administrators disappeared since 1995, but their skills probably translate to other IT.

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37 Answers

jca's avatar

Key punch operator.

YARNLADY's avatar

Bowling pin setter
office mail room – nearly all e-mails now
typist pool
manual bookkeeper

LuckyGuy's avatar

Draftsman, Secretary.

The numbers for each are declining rapidly.

marinelife's avatar

Fax machine repair technician.

thorninmud's avatar

Through the end of the 70s and into the dawn of the 80s, I worked as a drafter, making mechanical drawings with actual pencil on actual paper. “Laying lead” was the insider term.

Toward the end, the last company I worked for got a CAD (Computer Aided Design) terminal, which took up most of a small office. Only one guy was trained to draw on it. I asked my supervisor if there was any chance that I could get moved off the drawing table and onto a CAD terminal, but he told me that each CAD terminal cost $1 million, so no.

Now, my son has CAD software on his laptop.

talljasperman's avatar

Butcher, baker and candlestick maker. Also the typing pool is almost gone now. Tech support, and 411 operators and number 0 operator, outsourced to India.

jca's avatar

@YARNLADY: We have interoffice mail at work and each work location has a mailroom with a staff of mailroom guys.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

astronaut, home-maker, secretary, salesman

jca's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me: Are you kidding me? All four of those still exist.

cookieman's avatar

Phone Booth/Pay Phone repair tech.

Seek's avatar

Electronics repair, appliance repair, answering service operator (when you could leave a message with a person instead of a machine), real automobile mechanics (as opposed to part replacers). Camera film developer.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Not near as much, We don’t have space program & manned missions are fewer these days. Most families both parents have to work for ends to meet, 20 years ago I would have a secretary but “administrative assistants” are usually only for upper management. Sales is less one on one and more media based and that trend is not slowing any time soon.

talljasperman's avatar

The position of dictator is slowly disappearing. In Iraq, Libya, Egypt.

Seek's avatar

Real hardwood floor sanders and finishers are going the way of the Dodo, too, since the advent of laminate and engineered wood floors. Now you just have your prefinished floor installed at a third of the cost by some incompetent nobody, and the person who refined their craft for 20 years, who can take a raw piece of wood and make it look like a palatial ballroom gets the shaft.

Because we don’t like to repair or maintain things. When your new laminate floor gets water damaged when your dishwasher’s warranty expires and it explodes all over your floor, you’ll just replace both, instead of having either repaired by a competent professional.

Disposable civilisation for the WIN! ~~

filmfann's avatar

One of my closest friends used to work at a Fotomat. These were little kiosks in the middle of parking lots. You drive up, and drop off your film for developing.

basstrom188's avatar

Radio officer. I used to send telegrams using morse code via medium and shortwave radio in the mercantile marine.

filmfann's avatar

Also, I used to be a cord-board operator. When people called long distance, I would plug into a light, and punch in the number to be called. Person to Person, hospital calls, prison calls. Worst job ever.

dxs's avatar

Blockbuster cashier

zenvelo's avatar

Stock Exchange clerk, Market Quote Terminal Operator, Exchange trade price reporter, stock clerk, Stock Exchange Specialist As late as 2000, we had a couple of thousand people on an exchange trading floor, now we have about fifty, yet we do 6 times the volume, because it’s all computerized.

Judi's avatar

File clerk, (I used to have a job where I actually filed paper files in alphabetical order.)

ibstubro's avatar

Telephone operator.

Railroad lineman.

Encyclopedia/Bible salesman.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Linotype operator.

talljasperman's avatar

Bulk Ice delivery. Laundry repairman. Live theater vs. Cineplex Odeon’s.

johnpowell's avatar

Projectionist. Digital has kinda killed the art of projecting films. In the 35mm days I spent hours aligning bulbs and tweaking potentiometers to ensure the best sound I could. Now it is all digital and push a button. I considered it a art form, I spent hours after work making sure your light was proper and your sound was great. Now it is just shit and it angers me.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Remember Western Union, when people actually delivered telegrams? I can remember when a quality slide rule was incredibly expensive and you could actually pawn one if you needed cash. There were “experts” who made their living designing them and manufacturers as well as stores that specialized in selling them. Engineers, mathematicians, chemists, physicists walked around with the rules hanging from their belts, usually in fine leather cases. You could identify a math or science geek at a distance of better than 200 yards merely by the appendage hanging from his waist. I can’t remember how the sprinkling of women in the disciplines managed to to tote them.

Smitha's avatar

Typist in typing pools, Washerwomen, Iceman.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@ica Dang it, you took my answer. I was a keypunch operator from 1971 to 1980.

ibstubro's avatar

“Celebrity Panelist”.

Are there still people that make their living being on game show panels?

Remember Bobby and Elaine? Kitty Carlisle?

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antimatter's avatar

Telegraph operator.

GloPro's avatar

My dad owned a small newspaper. He developed all film in a darkroom. He did the layouts by hand. He created the ads using clip art books, cutting out the pics and using wax rollers to stick it all together. The whole paper was created that way. It took all night each Tuesday. Then we took it to press. We hand stuffed the inserts.

Creating a newspaper has certainly come a long, long way.

talljasperman's avatar

An In person real life Dungeon Master.

ibstubro's avatar

I loved newspapers back then, @GloPro.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@GloPro I was a typesetter after keypunching went the way of the dodo. I set the type on a computer the size of a small car, printed it out, cut out the typed text, waxed the back and positioned it on a big white board. Same with the illustrations – wax the back and place where you wanted. Then you send the big white boards to the department that takes a picture of it, and so, one page at a time, until you have the whole book.

GloPro's avatar

I used to buy glazed donut holes and dip them in the waxer, then put them in my dad’s office kitchen. I would laugh and laugh when I’d see my dad eating them absent-mindedly as he layed out the paper. Remember, I was 6–8 years old.

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