From ‘outdated’ to ‘wow, dated!’: Some consumers reconnect with old-school tech

Pagers and flip phones won’t hit the junkyard without a fight.

For those of you who crave cringey ‘90s commercials with unforgivably forced punchlines: Today’s your lucky day.

pagers in use by year

Son: “Dad, I want a pager. I’m never gonna take it to school, and your pages come first.”

Dad: “You’d do that for me? Would you do something else for me? Shave.”


Sure, pagers had their moments with teens, businesspeople, and doctors, and are certainly past their prime.

But they’re not obsolete — not even close, according to The Wall Street Journal. For today’s doctors, studies show phones have overtaken pager use, though there are still many who use the one-way, beeping communication devices, and, uh, TikTok about them, too.

Spok, a US company that makes pagers and other communication technology for health care providers, says 800k+ of its pagers are in use today, down from 6.6m in 2004.

  • In total, Spok, whose stock is up ~56% year-to-date, helps staff at 2.2k+ hospitals send 100m+ messages every month. In Q1, among the company’s ~$33.2m in revenue, $18.5m came from paging.

Flipping off the past

In recent years, many tech oldies have returned as consumer goodies. Relative Google search interest in disposable cameras was far greater in 2022 than in 2004; Samsung is out there pushing its Galaxy Z Flip phones; heck, we’ve done a deep dive on the resurgence of vinyl.

The lessons here: First, keep holding on to that iPod Shuffle in the nostalgia box under your bed.

Second, watch yourself some ‘90s and ‘00s commercials — there’s just something about those Betty Crocker ads that hit different.

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Topics: Technology

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