BusinessInsider.com reports that they’re a staple even on cutting-edge smartphones, televisions, and Hi-Fis, but the jack plug was invented back in the 19th century to route phone calls. Imagine hundreds of them being rearranged with swift dexterity by switchboard operators.
Has any technical standard ever lasted as long?
Despite the jack plug’s age, it will still come as a shock when it disappears into obsolescence. Especially to those people who have just bought an expensive pair of headphones.
The original design was a quarter inch in diameter, which is still used on electric guitars, but it shrank to 3.5mm for headphones. It is showing its age, though, and even the smaller sockets are now hindering the gradual de-thickening of mobile phones. Which is why they’ll soon be replaced.
There are basically two main ecosystems for mobile phones today: Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Both of them are well on their way to ditching the 3.5mm socket altogether.
At its developer conference last year, during a talk on designing accessories for the iPad and iPhone, Apple announced it was working on headphones that connect via the Lightning port. That odd, proprietary socket that replaced the original 30-pin iPod connector now provides audio as well as power.
Philips was first to develop a pair: the Fidelio M2L. So, just when you thought Apple couldn’t be any more of a walled garden, there now exist headphones that work only on its devices.