10 Professions We Watched Disappear

With technological advances, numerous professions risk being replaced by automation. But we don’t think about the occupations we have already lost. 

Of course, we all know cars replaced carriage drives a long time ago, but many professions we remember as children are all but gone now, and many don’t even remember. 

While scrolling through the R/askreddit community, I found a thread asking users to share the professions they remembered from childhood but no longer see. 

Do you still see people completing this work?


Proofreaders aren’t gone yet, but they’re a dying profession. With apps like Grammarly available to writers, many no longer use proofreaders and editors (though whether we NEED them or not is up for debate!)

One user in the thread remarked, “Judging by the advertising I see online these days, proofreader.” 

Another confirmed that these professions are slowly fading. 

Video Store Clerks

Netflix destroyed video stores and took the jobs with them. Many Redditors fondly remember video stores and are sad they’re gone. 

“I have great memories of inviting a buddy to sleepover on a Friday night. We’d get one of our parents to take us to Hollywood Video where we’d pick out a movie and a video game to rent for the night. It was great.” said one user. 


Kids used to run paper routes to make some pocket cash, but with the rise in digital media, most companies don’t deliver hard copies of papers door to door anymore. 

“There was also a shift in the 90’s that it went from kids on bikes to adults in cars,” said one user. 

Others mentioned that some local papers shut down, while others stopped offering home delivery


Before the Internet, every manager and case worker had a secretary to help them with their daily tasks. Now that most of those things can be handled in a few seconds on a computer, secretaries see their ranks shrink. 

Some companies still have secretaries and office assistants, but they’re typically called administrative assistants, and they do far more than manage one person’s life. You have to be a big wig to have a personal secretary nowadays. 


When was the last time someone had their shoes repaired? A few decades ago, buying a new pair of shoes was expensive, so everyone took their shoes to a cobbler to fix a broken heel or give it a shine. 

Generic shoes are so inexpensive now that buying a new pair makes more sense than getting an old one repaired. 

Manual Processor

Many people blame globalization for the loss of manufacturing jobs, but automation is the real culprit. 

Twenty years ago, people needed to stand on conveyer belt lines sorting fruit, flipping metal, and completing various manual labor tasks. Now, most of that processing is done by machines. 

Toll Booth Collector

Someone used to sit in a tiny little box on the freeway collecting money from every car that passed. States started implementing easy pass systems about thirty years ago, but in the beginning, most people and those passing through still had to go through the manual booth. 

After COVID, toll collectors all but disappeared, and states offer pay-by-mail options to those who don’t get their easy pass. 

Photo Booth Operator

At one point, photo booths had operators. 

“Back in the 20th century, there used to be small huts in parking lots where a person would develop your film in as soon as 1 hour,” said one user. 

“I remember 1 hour photo places in the mall where you could watch the photos developing in the window. Also, 1 hour photos used to cost a lot more than regular developing, which could take a week,” added another. “Sometimes it really blows my mind how I can have instant photos at any time.”

TV Repair

A television used to be a huge household expense, but now every family has at least one, and they’re easily replaceable should something break. 

“You can get a decent TV brand new for like $200-$300. As wasteful as it is, it doesn’t make sense to try to repair an old TV,” stated one user. 


When movies were on film, a real person had to set up the projector and run it, watching for any glitches or mechanical errors. 

Film became digitalized, and most movie theaters went away with projectionists. 

“Most theaters are all digital now with the projectors on timers,” said one user, who used to work as a movie projectionist. 

Others said advancements in digital film lead to a downfall in theater quality. 

“Theaters have suffered because of it. Masking is all over the place. No respect for proper brightness. Screens are filthy. These are major reasons people go to the movies less, and it starts with the end of protectionists.” stated another. 

What Professions Disappeared in Your Lifetime?

Not all the professions Redditors mentioned disappeared entirely, but even those still existing aren’t nearly as common as they once were. 

What would you add to the list? What jobs were common when you were young that you no longer see anymore?