The longer you’ve been in computers the more software you’ve seen come and go and over time you probably installed and uninstalled a lot of software. You might have used some applications for years and despite how much you once loved them, you now pretty much forgot about them. Here’s our top 10 of software that was once installed on the majority of computers but now has become obsolete for various reasons.
1 – ARJ
ARJ is the predecessor of ZIP and RAR. The DOS software was very popular and besides compressing files it also allowed spanning software over multiple floppy disks. Back in the days you could look pretty cool when typing all kinds of ARJ commands from the head.
Archives spanning multiple disks required you to wait till the floppy was fully written when you had to insert another disk. On the receiving computer you had to wait till a each floppy was fully copied to the HDD and again switch disks in between. Copying a disk could take more than 1 minute. Some software required 20 floppies of 1.44 MB each, so transferring a whopping 28.8MB could take more than 20 minutes.
This text processor could only be controlled by a keyboard and had limited markup possibilities. Nevertheless, it was very popular mainly because there was nothing better. If you wanted to use this software fast you had to learn some key combinations like F10 for saving and F3 for help. The software lost its popularity after Microsoft came with Word.
3 – Microsoft Encarta
With Microsoft Encarta you had access to a wealth of information from a single disc. It could replace an entire wall of encyclopedias and was used on many schools. Encarta became pretty much obsolete after Wikipedia became popular. There’s however a big difference between the two, all Encarta content was written by experts on their field and Wikipedia can be edited by everyone which some argue results in lesser quality articles.
4 – Netscape Navigator
5 – Getright
In the era of small band dial up internet, when everyone connected to the internet using 28k8 and 33k6 modems, you wanted your downloads to be fast and to complete. Dial up users often had to pay per minute for internet access, and even worse your parents didn’t want you to occupy the phone line for too long. Therefor it felt like a real disaster when downloads stopped in the middle and you had to start all over again.
Fortunately there was a solution, download managers. One of the most popular ones was Getright. The software allowed resuming of downloads and to speed up the downloads, it split up files in chunks. It was possible to download different chunks from different servers, making sure you always downloaded from the fastest one possible. Nowadays hardly used anymore, most browsers allow resuming, internet connection speed have gone up a lot and users are currently “always on”.
6 – Zone Alarm Firewall
There was a time where hackers could remotely trigger a blue screen of death by sending a specially crafted packet to your IP address. Later also other worms and viruses abused holes in Windows which would have been prevented by a firewall.
Zonealarm was pretty much the first popular firewall software for the general public. It was easy to use and worked well. When Microsoft decided to ship Windows XP with “Internet Connection Firewall”, which was enabled by default, popularity of third party firewalls decreased. Nevertheless some people still pick a more advanced third party one over the built-in Windows Firewall.
7 – ICQ
ICQ was the first popular real-time Instant Messaging software. The software was first developed by the Israeli company Mirabilis and later acquired by AOL. In order to connect to others you needed their UIN, a number that identified you. For some, the lower your UIN was, the cooler you were, because a lower UIN meant you were an early adopter of the IM software. The interface was clean and simple and you could even send messages to people that weren’t online. When Microsoft introduced MSN the software saw its user base rapidly decline.
8 – Corel Draw
Corel Draw was once very popular for creating graphics. The software was much more powerful than Paint, the drawing application Microsoft shipped and still ships with Windows. Corel Draw is still developed but it has a hard time competing with other software like Adobe Photoshop and Fireworks and is nowhere as popular as it was once was.
9 – CDRWIN
Goldenhawk CDRWIN was a simple but powerful shareware application to burn CDs, and later also DVDs. The software had a dedicated fanbase for a long time but the general public started to use Nero Burning ROM and Roxio Easy CD Creator in favor of CDRWIn. The reason? Both applications shipped for free with CD and DVD burners. The latest version was CDRWIN 4.0H, released in 2010. Later a German company decided to use the CDRWIN name for burning software which had nothing to do with the original CDRWIN.
10 – Winamp
Winamp is our number 10 for a reason. It’s probably still in use by many but it’s nowhere as popular as it once was. It topped download charts for years as it was one of the few free MP3 players. Nullsoft, the company behind Winamp was acquired by AOL which decided to discontinue development of the software in 2013. Since then no new versions have been released but Winamp is now owned by Belgian online radio aggregator Radionomy. Let’s hope they’ll revive this golden oldie!