20 Jobs That Have Disappeared

The advancement of technology, and the changes in our society, have made a number of jobs obsolete. Automation has made it possible for machines to do the jobs humans once did – and do them faster. As a result, it's little surprise that some jobs are in decline and others have disappeared altogether. Here are 20 jobs that have disappeared over the decades.


In New York City and Florida, cigar makers often became bored. They hired lectors to read to them while they worked. Lectors could read just about any material requested, and were paid using pooled wages of the workers. Lectors were placed in a chair on a raised platform so that most of the workers could hear.

Copy Boy

Errand runners used to take paper from desk to desk in newspaper offices around the country. When reports came out of teletype machines from the news wire services, copy boys would take the mimeographed information, sort it and then deliver it. Then, when a story was done, the copy boys could collect the article and take it to an editor. Now it’s all done via document sharing and e-mail.

Log Driver

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the easiest way to move logs over long distances was to send them down the river. Log drivers were needed to guide the logs down river. Men moved ahead of the logs to remove obstructions, while others remained behind to free stuck logs. Because they did such dangerous work, log drivers were paid a much higher salary than those that cut down the trees.


Before electric lights were standard, streets were lit by gas lamps. As you might imagine, someone was needed to manually light these lamps. Lamplighters used long ladders to reach the lamps, and then used matches to light the lamps. With electric street lights illuminating the night, lamplighters are obsolete.


When you go bowling, a machine comes down and clears away the fallen pins, and sets up new pins. Before technology made automation possible, though, boys and girls did this job. While these pinsetters were often teenagers, sometimes they were much younger. Now, there is no need to have someone set up the pins, although the manager may need to go behind if the machine gets stuck.

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