state of being which occurs when an object, service, or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order

Obsolescence is the state of being which occurs when an object, service, or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order. Obsolescence frequently occurs because a replacement has become available that has, in sum, more advantages compared to the disadvantages incurred by maintaining or repairing the original. Obsolete refers to something that is already disused or discarded, or antiquated. Typically, obsolescence is preceded by a gradual decline in popularity.


  • Dinosaurs have a bad public image as symbols of obsolescence and hulking in­ inefficiency; in political cartoons they are know-nothing conservatives that plod through miasmic swamps to inevitable extinction.
    • Robert T. Bakker, "Dinosaur Renaissance", Scientific American 232, no. 4 (April 1975), 58—78
  • A major change is occurring in the nature of work and the way that organizations relate to a rapidly changing environment. Many enterprises (and management teams) face obsolescence because of their inability to respond and adapt to this new situation. Enterprises can adapt if top management designs an appropriate information infrastructure, one which leverages human learning. A set of change processes, known as enterprise engineering, equips organizations to move towards such an infrastructure.
    • James H. (Jim) Brown and Julian Watts (1992). "Enterprise engineering: building 21st century organizations." The Journal of Strategic Information Systems Vol 1 (5): p. 243-249. (Abstract).
  • You feel chilled because you have no character. You’re a depressing assemblage of pop culture influences and cancelled emotions, driven by the sputtering engine of only the most banal form of capitalism. You spend your life feeling as if you’re perpetually on the brink of being obsolete — whether it’s labour market obsolescence or cultural unhipness. And it’s all catching up with you. You live and die by the development cycle. You’re glamorized drosophila flies, with the company regulating your life cycles at whim. If it isn’t a budget-driven eighteen-month game production schedule, it’s a five-year hardware obsolescence schedule. Every five years you have to throw away everything you know and learn a whole new set of hardware and software specs, relegating what was once critical to our lives to the cosmic slag heap.
  • The application of planned obsolescence to thought itself has the same merit as its application to consumer goods; the new is not only shoddier than the old, it fuels an obsolete social system that staves off its replacement by manufacturing the illusion that it is perpetually new.
  • In an age of multiple and massive innovations, obsolescence becomes the major obsession.
    • Marshall McLuhan, "Innovation is obsolete", Evergreen review, Volume 15, Issues 86-94, Grove Press, 1971, p. 64
  • Obsolescence is the moment of superabundance.
    • Marshall McLuhan, Yeats studies, Issue 2, Irish University Press, 1972, p. 135
  • Any state, entity, or ideology becomes obsolete when it stockpiles the wrong weapons: when it captures territories, but not minds; when it enslaves millions, but convinces nobody. When it is naked, yet puts on armor and calls it faith, while in the Eyes of God it has no faith at all. Any state, any entity, any ideology that fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man...that state is obsolete.


  • Romney Wordsworth: I am a librarian, sir. That is my occupation, and my profession. If you people choose to call that obsolete...
Chancellor: A librarian. Having to do with books?
Wordsworth: Yes sir, books.
Chancellor: And since there are no more books, there are no more libraries. Therefore, it follows there would be little use for the services of a librarian. Case in point: a minister would say his profession is preaching the word of God. And, since the State has proven that there is no God, that would make the function of a minister somewhat academic as well.
Wordsworth: There is a God!
Chancellor: You are in error, Mr. Wordsworth. There is no God. (grabbing loudspeaker) The State has proven that there is no God!
Wordsworth: You cannot erase God with an edict!
Chancellor: You are Obsolete, Mr. Wordsworth.
Wordsworth: A lie. No man is Obsolete.
Chancellor: You have no function, Mr. Wordsworth. You're an anachronism, like a ghost from another time.

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