11 jobs that no longer exist

1. Bowling alley pinsetter


These were young boys employed at bowling alleys to set up the pins for clients.

2. Human alarm clock


Also called “knocker-uppers”. They were essentially alarm clocks, hired to ensure that people would wake up on time to get to their jobs. They would use sticks, clubs or pebbles to knock on clients’ windows and doors.

3. Ice cutter


Before modern refrigeration and preservation techniques were invented, ice cutters would saw up big blocks of ice from frozen lakes. People used these blocks of ice in their cellars and refrigerators. It was a very dangerous job often done in extreme conditions.

4. Listener for enemy aircraft


Before the invention of radar, the military used acoustic mirrors and listening devices like the one pictured above to focus and detect the sound of engines from approaching aircraft.

5. Rat catcher


These people were hired to control rat populations in big cities. They had high risks of suffering bites and infections, but also helped prevent rat-born diseases from spreading to the public.

6. Lamplighter


Lamplighters used long poles to light, extinguish and refuel street lamps. This was obviously before electric street lights were introduced.

7. Milkman


These were also common in the time before modern preservation techniques became widespread. Fresh, non-treated milk spoils very quickly, and had to be delivered almost daily.

8. Log driver


Before modern tools, technology and infrastructure became available, log drivers would float and guide cut logs down rivers from a logging site to processing areas.

9. Switchboard operator


These were integral parts of a telephone network’s operation before modern technology rendered them obsolete. They would, among other things, connect long-distance calls. All of these tasks are now performed digitally.

10. Resurrectionist


Also called “body snatchers”. They were hired to remove corpses from graves for universities to use as cadavers. Cadavers from legal means were rare and difficult to obtain, so universities had to resort to other means of obtaining them.

11. Lector


Basically a human radio, a lector was often hired from money pooled from factory workers. The lector would read to large rooms full of manual laborers to keep them entertained.


3 thoughts on “11 jobs that no longer exist

  1. I’ve already seen these pictures somewhere on the internet. But after watching them again, it still amazed me how hard technology evolved in the last decades. I’m really curious about all the things the future decades will bring and which jobs, that are obvious now, disappear in the future.

  2. Hi there, I am wandering what is Switchboard operator do? Why we need these persons? First we have to call them and then they will transfer the line to anther place? Why they need to do it and why they cannot directly call the person they wand. How this system works?

  3. From my point of view, some of the jobs indeed is no longer exists anymore. But instead, some new jobs are develops. In some situation, one job is just “transfer” to an other job. For example, Lamplighter is indeed no longer exits anymore, but instead, there is of course people in the power plant or the control station to control which time and with light should be lighted. In principle the aim of the job is the same.

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