Visit while you can: 7 fading tech destinations that may disappear forever

nasa
Michael Bumann/Flickr
In 2013, Delta Air Lines demolished the iconic “Worldport” terminal at New York’s Kennedy Airport, despite pleas from preservationists. Even having the building listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s failed to stop Delta and airport management from revving up the bulldozers. The airport was cutting-edge and architecturally iconic when Pan Am built it in 1960, but it lost its usefulness by today’s airport standards.

The Worldport demonstrates that not all historically significant places last forever, no matter how high-tech they were during their time. So while you still can, take a visit to these techie sites before they disappear.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center
Reinhard Link/Flickr

Although space shuttles no longer launch from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida, the facility is still used for other launches and offers tours for visitors. However, according to a report from the non-profit Union of Concerned Scientists, Kennedy and other coastal-based NASA facilities, such as the Ames Research Center in California and Johnson Space Center in Texas, are at risk. The reason, UCS says, is that more than two-thirds of NASA’s facilities are within 16 feet of sea level, and many launch pads and other structures are at very low elevations, so rising seas could threaten these facilities’ future.

Blockbuster Video

Blockbuster Video
Paul/Flickr

Before Internet streaming became the norm, to watch a new movie you either went to the cinema or rented a VHS tape or DVD from Blockbuster. Technically, the corporate office closed all of its stores by the end of 2013, but you can still find a few locations in rural areas. Parent company Dish Network licenses the Blockbuster name to approximately 50 franchise locations, mostly in Alaska and Texas. One franchisee in Alaska told Yahoo Movies that Internet streaming is not possible in most of the state, so the video rental business is still lucrative. So, the Blockbuster name will live on, until emerging technologies like Wi-Fi drones bring Internet to all.

Akihabara

Akihabara
heiwa4126/Flickr

For geeks, nerds, gamers, anime and manga fans, and other techies, the name Akihabara requires no explanation. The area is a major shopping destination in Tokyo for all sorts of electronics, and played a role in Japan’s rise as a tech giant. But in 2013, the Radio Store closed after more than six decades of business. Techies mourned this Akihabara landmark, which coined the area’s “Electric Town” nickname. While the area is still popular with tourists, particularly new ones from China, Akihabara is experiencing a decline; many of Akihabara’s original vendors and customers are in their retirement age, and there’s less need for the type of RadioShack-style electronics that were once popular (hence RadioShack’s decline). As IDG points out, Radio Store’s closing marks the end of an era, and many more iconic stores may follow suit.

Tower Records

Tower Records
Eric Chan/Flickr

If you still bemoan the loss of the seminal music chain, Tower Records, hop onto a flight to Japan, where the more than 80 Tower stores still thrive. Like Blockbuster, the Tower name still exists as licensed franchises, but another reason for Tower’s success in Japan is that Japanese consumers still value traditional media. While Amazon, Spotify, and iTunes may be the new norm for buying music in the U.S., last year 85 percent of music sold in Japan was on CDs. But streaming music is growing in Japan (messaging app maker Line recently launched a Spotify-like service, and Apple Music is coming), so it’ll be interesting to see how long the Tower name will survive as a physical retailer.

The Factory

The Factory
Alan Light/Flickr

The Mitchell Camera Corporation was a pioneering manufacturer of filmmaking equipment during Hollywood’s early years. In 1929 the company built The Factory to accommodate its operations. After the company vacated the building, it was converted for other uses, including a famous gay disco during the 1970s and 1980s.

Developers today, however, are looking to tear down The Factory is order to make way for a hotel. The National Trust, which listed the building on its 2015 endangered list, says altering the proposed hotel’s design can save The Factory from demolition. The Factory is one of the last industrial buildings in West Hollywood from that era, but in land-scarce city, the lot might be more valuable than nostalgia.

DisneyQuest

DisneyQuest
Sam Howzit/Flickr

To bring the Disney theme park experience to urban areas, the company created the DisneyQuest project. Unfortunately the entertainment center concept failed, leaving just one location at Downtown Disney, at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Inside, you’ll find plenty of Disney-related rides and activities. But, as part of Disney’s renovation plans, the DisneyQuest area will close in 2016 to make way for the NBA Experience. Across the country, amusement centers like this are shuttering; it’s truly an end of an era if Disney isn’t able to capitalize on it. With fewer places to play arcade games, check out your neighborhood arcades before this part of history closes forever.

Sony Wonder Technology Lab

Sony Wonder Technology Lab
Ian Muttoo/Flickr

File this one as speculation: A block from the tony shops of Fifth Avenue in New York City is a popular free museum devoted to science and technology – through the eyes of Sony. The Sony Wonder Technology Lab, located at Sony Corp’s headquarters, offers plenty of interactive activities and exhibits for young techies. But here’s why we think it won’t be around forever: Sony actually sold its building and will re-lease space from the new owner, which reportedly is planning to convert the iconic structure into a hotel or condos. The Lab also occupies valuable retail space. Sony’s lease doesn’t expire anytime soon, but we wonder about this mini museum’s future.

Gaming

The history of Battle Royale: From mod to worldwide phenomenon

Battle royale games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds’ and Fortnite have become the biggest trend in video games. The genre is also pushing the envelope in streaming and eSports in a way that might hint at the future of the industry.
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Computing

Canada’s winters inspired a startup to warm homes with cryptomining heat waste

Cryptomining may be the key to untold riches and the future of currency, but it’s also an environmental nightmare. Heatmine, thinks it has the answer, but it could mean bolting a mining rig onto every home and business in the country.
Gaming

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Rise of the Machines: Here’s how much robots and A.I. progressed in 2018

2018 has generated no shortage of news, and the worlds of A.I. and robotics are no exception. Here are our picks for the most exciting, game changing examples of both we saw this year.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe captures first image from within the atmosphere of the sun

NASA has shared the first image from inside the atmosphere of the sun taken by the Parker Solar Probe. The probe made the closest ever approach to a star, gathering data which scientists have been interpreting and released this week.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.
Emerging Tech

Researchers create a flying wireless platform using bumblebees

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a novel way to create a wireless platform: using bumblebees. As mechanical drones' batteries run out too fast, the team made use of a biology-based solution using living insects.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.