24 Jobs That No Longer Exist

Switchboard operators, circa 1936.
Switchboard operators, circa 1936.
William Vanderson, Fox Photos/Getty Images

Many jobs that were commonplace in the past are non-existent on resumes today. Some disappeared thanks to advancing technology, while some undesirable and dangerous professions were phased out due to improved labor laws. The jobs on this list were once solid options for a paycheck, and they either no longer exist—or are on the verge of disappearing entirely.


Ministry of Information dispatch riders on their motorbikes, circa 1940.
Ministry of Information dispatch riders on their motorbikes, circa 1940.
Fox Photos, Getty Images

Dispatch riders were motorcyclists from World War I and World War II who delivered urgent messages between militaries. Wartime radio transmissions were subject to being unstable and prone to interception at the time, so quick and reliable motorcycle couriers were preferred during these pressing situations.


A soda jerk serves sweet drinks at a drugstore's soda fountain in 1950.
A soda jerk serves sweet drinks at a drugstore's soda fountain in 1950.
Doreen Spooner, Keystone Features/Getty Images

A job as a soda jerk was ideal for many young people during the 20th century. Youths could often be found handling soda spigots while wearing bow ties and white paper hats as they served up ice cream and soda drinks to order. Competition from fast food restaurants and drive-ins aided in the disappearance of the traditional soda jerk, but today there are many restaurants trying to offer their own spin on the beloved drugstore clerks.


An herb garden, circa 1533.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The 1600s weren't known for being an exceptionally clean time in human history. To combat the lack of hygiene, herb strewers were appointed to spread herbs and flowers throughout royal family residences to mask the scent of repulsive odors. Plants like basil, lavender, chamomile, and roses were regularly used by herb strewers.


Door-to-door salesman in 1951.
H. ARMSTRONG ROBERTS, ClassicStock/Alamy Stock Photo

In the 18th and 19th centuries, some booksellers traveled door to door rather than setting up a brick-and-mortar location. Book peddlers would carry samples of the books and illustrations they offered to promote their products. They were often met with positive feedback, unlike other door-to-door salesmen at the time (of, say, sewing machines and snake oil-like pharmaceuticals). In fact, several states passed laws to prevent soliciting, but book peddlers were often an exception. Today, a few companies still try the door-to-door approach, but concerned residents do not view the cold-calls as positively as in years past.


Jabcz Hogg photographing W S Johnston in the first known image of a photographer at work, circa 1843.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The Daguerreotype was the first form of the camera available to the public. It was immensely popular throughout the mid-19th century and captured portraits of many celebrities and politicians of the time, like Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, and Frederick Douglass. Daguerreotypists were responsible for capturing photos with their cameras and developing them through a chemical process. Eventually new, cheaper processes were introduced, rendering daguerreotypists obsolete.


A French telegraphist in 1917, during World War I.
A French telegraphist in 1917, during World War I.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

During the telegraph's prime, wartime demand and high salaries made jobs as telegraph operators desirable. Telegraphists were also needed for dispatching between the mainland and those at sea. As forms of communication evolved, the telegraph and Morse code became outdated, but the quick relaying of information brought about by this invention immensely impacted human communication methods as we know them.


A medical consultation, circa 1807.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

You might not find job listings for toad doctors today, but back in the 19th century, the sick in England regularly relied on this folk magic. Patients with scrofula were said to be cured after wearing a toad (either living or dead) in a muslin bag around their neck.


Child pinsetters working in a bowling alley in Brooklyn, New York in 1910.
Pinsetters working in a bowling alley in Brooklyn, New York in 1910.
Lewis Wickes Hine, Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Before automated pin retrieval and set-up machines were invented, someone needed to remove and replace pins at bowling alleys between each turn. These pinsetters (often referred to as pin boys because of the young boys typically employed) would hang out at the end of the lanes and manually reset the pins. As with many rote, manual jobs, when automatic pinsetters began appearing in the first half of the 20th century, the bulk of these paid positions disappeared.


An Indian water carrier or
An Indian water carrier or "bhisti," circa 1870.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Water carriers (literally, people carrying buckets or bags of water from water sources to residents) had centuries of job security, but as indoor plumbing became popular in the West, this job began disappearing—a pattern that's still spreading to the rest of the world. In 2015, the BBC interviewed a traditional water carrier in India who recalled that even 30 years ago there were hundreds doing that job; he was the last one in his area and singled out the availability of tap water as making the job unviable. And in 2017, the South African network News24 talked to a water carrier from Madagascar who said that in a day she might haul 800 liters of water and earn $1.20.


Cavalry in 1800.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Cavalrymen are more often thought of as soldiers riding on horseback, but they've also ridden camels and elephants throughout history as well. Fighting by cavalry was a tactical method that gave soldiers enhanced mobility, height, and speed. World War I and World War II were the last major conflicts that relied on cavalrymen. Instead, today's warfare relies on the technology of armored vehicles, aircraft, and modern weapons, though as the recent film 12 Strong dramatized, soldiers and horses do still find themselves working together in many parts of the world.


Eva Duarte (center, in 1944) made her name as a radio actress before marrying Juan Perón and becoming the First Lady of Argentina.
Eva Duarte (center, in 1944) made her name as a radio actress before marrying Juan Perón and becoming the First Lady of Argentina.
Keystone, Getty Images

Radio drama was a leading form of entertainment between the 1920s and the 1950s. Being an audio format forced listeners to rely on music, sound effects, and dialogue to imagine the story being broadcasted. The rise of television brought an end to radio drama and the careers of radio actors, at least in America. In some parts of the world they remain popular, and the rise of podcasts has sparked new interest in audio dramas.


A knocker-up in London in 1929.
A knocker-up in London in 1929.
J. Gaiger, Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Even if you hate your alarm, waking up to the beeping of a clock sounds appealing compared to paying a knocker-up to rap on your home. During the Industrial Revolution, people were paid to wake clients up for work by knocking on their doors and windows with sticks. Knocker-ups were mostly found in Britain and Ireland, but as alarm clocks became more accessible, the job was eventually put on permanent snooze—though it did hold on in some parts of Britain until the 1970s.


Early "human computers" at NASA.
Science History Images, Alamy Stock Photo

Long before laptops and PCs, people were employed as computers. These jobs were often held by women who worked in teams to figure out lengthy mathematical calculations. Human computers solved problems ranging from astronomy to trigonometry, but as to be expected, these jobs have been replaced by the computers we use today.


A clockkeeper works on London's Big Ben in 1957.
A clockkeeper works on London's Big Ben in 1957.
Frank Martin, BIPs/Getty Images

Throughout history, the job of a clockkeeper has evolved along with technology. In its early existence, the job involved ringing a large, centralized bell several times a day. Later, when the mechanical clock was invented, winding and upkeep of the city's clocks were necessary tasks to ensure accuracy. Nowadays, clockkeepers are nowhere near as important as they once were, but as The Turret Clock Keeper's Handbook [PDF] explains, "those who care for a turret clock will well know just how highly it is regarded in a local community not only for its grace in adorning a building but also for its timekeeping and its job of sounding the hours—despite all those quartz watches."


A projectionist in a town cinema, circa 1930.
A projectionist in a town cinema, circa 1930.
Topical Press Agency, Getty Images

Another profession that has been fading out of existence is that of a film projectionist. Using film to project movies in theaters is becoming a rarity now, so there aren't many people who know how to work with film anymore. Having a film projector has become prohibitively expensive, and with the rise of digital projection, the act of spooling canisters of filmstrips is a dying art.


Young boys working the troughs in the mines of South Wales, circa 1910.
Young boys working the troughs in the mines of South Wales, circa 1910.
Topical Press Agency, Getty Images

To separate impurities from coal, American coal breakers relied on breaker boys who ranged in age from 8 to 12. This job was often labor-intensive, and the public argued against letting children work in these conditions—but child labor laws were continuously ignored. This continued into the early 1920s until child labor laws began to be more strictly enforced and coal separation technology improved.


John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792) and British Prime Minister (1762-1763), served as one of Prince Frederick's lords of the bedchamber and became a privy councillor and groom of the stole for George III.
John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute (1713-1792) and British Prime Minister (1762-1763), served as one of Prince Frederick's lords of the bedchamber and became a privy councillor and groom of the stole for George III.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Everybody poops—even the former kings of England. These royals just happened to have an advisor, or a Groom of the Stool, to aid them in the process. Though it might sound like a crappy job, the position grew to be powerful and respected within the royal court since kings were known to confide in their Groom of the Stool. The position fell out of service with the rise of Elizabeth I, since the particular title was only extended to male monarchs (Elizabeth I had a comparable Chief Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber, as well as plenty of ladies-in-waiting and chambermaids at her beck and call). With King James I the position was revived and eventually became known as the Groom of the Stole. And although Queen Victoria's son, as prince, had a Groom of the Stole, the title did not continue into his reign.


A sound mirror that was built into the cliffs of Dover, England during the first world war.
A sound mirror that was built into the cliffs of Dover, England during the first world war.
LEON NEAL, AFP/Getty Images

The invention of radar technology vastly changed the way that militaries use air defense. Before World War II, the United Kingdom enlisted aircraft listeners. Men in this position would use concrete mirrors to detect the sound of enemy aircraft engines. The acoustic mirrors may have been effective in picking up sound, but they often fell short because enemy airplanes were too close to take preventative action by the time they were heard. Several of these acoustic mirrors have been restored as monuments.


Two lift operators in a London department store, circa 1916.
Two lift operators in a London department store, circa 1916.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

The passenger-operated elevators that we have today are very simple compared to their manual predecessors that needed to have a trained operator. Instead of buttons, older elevators had a lever that would regulate their speed, and the driver would need to be able to land on the right floor. While there are still elevator operators around today, their job is much more focused on security.


A town crier in Wales, circa 1938.
A town crier in Wales, circa 1938.
Fox Photos, Getty Images

Town criers were responsible for publicizing court orders, usually by way of shouting in the street so that everyone in the area was able to hear of the news. In order to gain attention, they'd shout "Oyez"—meaning "hear ye"—and ring a large handheld bell. In England they were known to wear ornate clothing and tricorne hats. Town criers may be disappearing from the payroll, but some can still be found competing with one another or announcing royal births in an unofficial capacity.


An iceman delivers blocks of ice in 1932.
An iceman delivers blocks of ice in 1932.
Francis M.R.Hudson, Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

Prior to the invention of refrigeration and freezers, people relied on large blocks of ice to keep their food and drinks cool. After letting a foot of ice build up on a body of water, ice cutters were charged with finding, cutting, and handling the slabs for delivery. The job put men at risk in the cold weather and freezing waters; as technology advanced, it was no longer necessary. Today, there are occasional attempts to mine glaciers for "artisanal ice cubes," but the job also clings on in an unlikely place—making ice hotels.


A boy carrying a torch through the London fog.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

In London during the Middle Ages, link-boys could be found carrying torches along the streets at night. Some were privately employed, while others offered their lighting to pedestrians in exchange for a small fee. As streetlights became more widespread, the illuminating duties of link-boys became a thing of the past.


Switchboard operators at the Manchester Telephone Exchange, circa 1900.
Switchboard operators at the Manchester Telephone Exchange, circa 1900.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

In the early years of telephones, operators would have to connect callers to each other via a switchboard. This machine had circuits that would light up when a telephone receiver was lifted, and the switchboard operator would then physically connect the lines so people could talk. The profession became outdated once telephone technology advanced to the point that people could dial and receive calls without the middleman. Today the job ostensibly lives on (the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 80,000 people were switchboard operators in May 2017), but it's now more a customer service role to make sure callers reach the right department.


A vivandiere, a female soldier selling provisions and spirits, with the Allied forces during the Crimean War.
A vivandiére with the Allied forces during the Crimean War, circa mid-1850s.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Women, called vivandières, served alongside the French army in wars like the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, and the term even popped up during the American Civil War. Vivandières would follow troops, tend to wounds, sew, cook food, and carry canteens for the soldiers—they were essentially mobile medics and maids, but the positions were considered ones of honor and service. The French War Ministry fully disbanded vivandières in the early 1900s before World War I.

15 Delicious Facts About Pizza Hut


For more than 60 years, Pizza Hut has been slinging hot, cheesy pies to hungry consumers all over the world. (There are more than 16,000 locations worldwide.) Whether you're a meat lover or vegetarian, here are 15 things you should know about the popular pizza chain.

1. It was founded by two brothers who were still in college.

Dan and Frank Carney borrowed $600 from their mother in 1958 to open a pizza place while attending Wichita State University. The name was inspired by the former bar that they rented to open their first location.

2. Pizza Hut franchising was almost instant.

A year after the first location opened in Wichita, Kansas, the Carney brothers had already incorporated the business and asked their friend Dick Hassur to open the first franchise location in Topeka, Kansas. Hassur, who had previously gone to school and worked at Boeing with Dan Carney, was looking for a way out of his insurance agent job. He soon became a multi-franchise owner, and worked to find other managers who could open Pizza Huts across the country.

Once, when a successful manager of a Wichita location put in his notice, Hassur was sent in to convince the man to stay. That manager happened to be Bill Parcells, who had resigned his Pizza Hut job in order to take his first coaching job at a small Nebraska college. Of course, he later went on to coach numerous NFL teams, including leading the New York Giants to two Super Bowl victories. "I might have been wrong there," Hassur said of trying to convince Parcells his salary would be better as a manager than as a coach, "but I'm sure he'd have been successful with Pizza Hut, too."

3. There was a mascot in the early days.

image of vintage Pizza Hut restaurants featuring mascot Pizza Pete
Roadsidepictures, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Before the iconic red roof logo was adopted in 1969, Pizza Hut had a mascot named Pizza Pete who also served as its logo. The mustachioed cartoon man wore a chef’s hat, neckerchief, and an apron while serving up hot meals to hungry customers. Pizza Pete was still used throughout the 1970s on bags, cups, and advertisements, but was eventually phased out.

4. Pizza Hut perfume was a thing that existed.

It was announced late in 2012 that Pizza Hut had plans to release a limited edition perfume that smelled like "fresh dough with a bit of spice." One hundred fans of the Pizza Hut Canada Facebook page won bottles of the scent, and another promotion around Valentine's Day gave American pizza lovers a chance to own the fragrance via a Twitter contest. The packaging for the perfume resembled mini pizza boxes, and a few later surfaced on eBay for as much as $495.

5. They struck gold with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

image of people dressed as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

When a group of crime fighting turtles that love pizza become huge pop culture icons, it's a no-brainer that a pizza company should do business with them. Domino's was featured in the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film in 1990, but ads for Pizza Hut were included on VHS when the film hit home video. Pizza Hut also reportedly spent around $20 million on marketing campaigns for the Turtles during the 1990 "Coming Out of Their Shells" concert tour and album release. The partnership continued all the way up to the 2014 release of Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

6. Pizza Hut Easy-Bake ovens were also real.

Children of the '70s were lucky enough to own small toy ovens shaped like the restaurant in which they could bake tiny little Pizza Hut pizzas under a 60-watt light bulb.

7. Their vintage commercials are star-studded.

An 11-year-old Elijah Wood got his start flinging potato salad at his co-star; Ringo Starr and the Monkees marveled at the stuffed-crust pizza; and former Soviet statesman Mikhail Gorbachev had a very odd, political pizza pitch, appearing along with his young granddaughter in a Russian Pizza Hut (though the ad was not set to run in Russia).

8. The Book It! program is 35 years old.

In 1984, Pizza Hut kicked off the BOOK IT! program, an initiative to encourage children to read by rewarding them with "praise, recognition and pizza." It was such a success that First Lady Barbara Bush threw a reading-themed pizza party at the White House in 1989. The program is now the "longest-running corporate-supported reading program in the country" and has reached over 60 million children.

9. They were early to the pan pizza create.

image of someone removing a slice from a personal pan pizza

Pizza Hut introduced pan pizza in 1980, nine years before their competition, Domino's, added the style to their menu. In 1983, they introduced personal pan pizzas, which are still the coveted prize of the BOOK IT! program and the only pizza option at smaller Pizza Hut cafes (like those inside Target stores).

10. They were also early to online ordering.

In 1994, Pizza Hut and The Santa Cruz Operation created PizzaNet, an ahead-of-its-time program that allowed computer users to place orders via the internet. The Los Angeles Times called the idea "clever but only half-baked" and "the Geek Chic way to nosh." And, the site is still up and running! Seriously, go ahead and try to order.

11. Pizza Hut pizza has been to space ...

image of the International Space Station hovering above Earth

In 2001, Pizza Hut became the first company to deliver pies into space. Before being sealed and sent to the International Space Station, the pizza recipe had to undergo "rigorous stabilized thermal conditions" to make sure that it would be still be edible when it got there. Pizza Hut also paid a large, unspecified sum (but definitely more than $1 million) to have a 30-foot-wide ad on a rocket in 1999.

12. … but not to the Moon.

In 1999, Pizza Hut's then-CEO Mike Rawlings (and current Mayor of Dallas) told The New York Times that an earlier idea for space marketing was for the logo to be shown on the moon with lasers. But once they started looking into it, astronomers and physicists advised them that the projected image would have to be as large as Texas to be seen from Earth—and the project would also have cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars. Better to stick with Super Bowl ads.

13. They once offered pizza engagement packages.

image of someone proposing marriage

What's the perfect way to pop the big question? In 2012, Pizza Hut suggested that grooms- (or brides-) to-be order the engagement party package that included a $10 dinner box, a limo, a ruby ring, fireworks, flowers, and a photographer, all for $10,010. In keeping with the theme, only 10 of the packages were offered. But, to be clear—if you bought a Pizza Hut engagement package, you would have spent $10 on food and approximately the cost of a wedding on the proposal.

14. Pizza Hut accounts for three percent of U.S. cheese production.

With all those locations and cheese-stuffed crusts, Pizza Hut needs a lot of dairy. The company uses over 300 million pounds of cheese annually and is one of the largest cheese buyers in the world. To make that much cheese, 170,000 cows are used to produce an estimated 300 billion gallons of milk. Something to think about the next time you order an Ultimate Cheese Lover's pizza with extra cheese.

15. There are a lot of repurposed Pizza Hut locations.

An empty, former Pizza Hut building
Mike Kalasnik, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Franchise locations of companies are not always successful, and when they close, the buildings are often left untouched by their new owners rather than being demolished and replaced. Because the hut-shaped stores have become synonymous with the company, their former locations are easy to spot. The blog "Used to Be a Pizza Hut" has an interactive map of more than 500 ex-huts submitted by people all over the world. There is also a successful Kickstarter-funded photo book—called Pizza Hunt—documenting the "second lives" of the restaurants.

5 Fast Facts About Sake Dean Mahomed

Today's Google Doodle will be many people's first introduction to Sake Dean Mahomed, a noted traveler, surgeon, author, and entrepreneur who was born in Patna, India in 1759. Though he's been left out of many modern history books, Mahomed left a profound impact on Western culture that is still being felt today.

In honor of the 225th anniversary of the publication of his first book—The Travels of Dean Mahomed, a Native of Patna in Bengal, Through Several Parts of India, While in the Service of the Honorable the East India Company—on January 15, 1794, here are some facts about the figure.

1. He was the first Indian author to publish a book in English.

In 1794, Sake Dean Mahomed published The Travels of Dean Mahomet, an autobiography that details his time in the East India Company's army in his youth and his journey to Britain. Not only was it the first English book written by an Indian author, The Travels of Dean Mahomet marked the first time a book published in English depicted the British colonization of India from an Indian perspective.

2. His marriage was controversial.

While studying English in Ireland, Mahomed met and fell in love with an Irish woman named Jane Daly. It was illegal for Protestants to marry non-Protestants at the time, so the pair eloped in 1786 and Mahomed converted from Islam to Anglicanism.

3. He opened the England's first Indian restaurant.

Prior to Sake Dean Mahomed's arrival, Indian food was impossible to find in England outside of private kitchens. He introduced the cuisine to his new home by opening the Hindoostane Coffee House in London in 1810. The curry house catered to both British and Indian aristocrats living in the city, with "Indianised" versions of British dishes and "Hookha with real Chilm tobacco." Though the restaurant closed a few years later due to financial troubles, it paved the way for Indian food to become a staple of the English food scence.

4. He brought "shampooing" to Europe.

Following the failure of his restaurant venture, Mahomed opened a luxury spa in Brighton, England, where he offered Eastern health treatments like herbal steam baths and therapeutic, oil-based head massages to his British clientele. The head massages eventually came to be known as shampoo, an anglicized version of the Hindi word champissage. Patrons included the monarchs George IV and William IV, earning Mahomed the title shampooer of kings.

5. He wrote about the benefits of spa treatments.

Though The Travels of Dean Mahomet is his most famous book, Mahomed published another book in English in 1828 called Shampooing; or, Benefits Resulting from the Use of the Indian Medicated Vapour Bath.