What Does Obsolete Mean?

Obsolete refers to outdated computer hardware, software, technology, services or practices that are no longer used, even if they are in working condition. A technology often becomes obsolete when replaced by a newer or better technology.


Techopedia Explains Obsolete

Computer peripherals are rendered obsolete when current technology does not support product repair or remanufacture. Obsolete products, like central processing units (CPU), memory chips and network interface cards (NIC) cannot be remanufactured because advanced technologies supersede original product manufacturer capabilities. Because of performance, price and functionality issues, product redevelopment is not always cost-effective.

Additionally, service providers do not always provide support for older products, rendering them obsolete. Mobile wireless technology is a classic example.

Organizations may deliberately market products subject to rapid obsoletion to generate long-term revenue, also known as planned obsolescence. For example, a manufacturer may design a device that will become obsolete within a year of purchase, which forces consumers to replace equipment on a more frequent basis.

Obsolete computer equipment is usually recycled to recover precious metals and reusable plastics.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.