The earliest documented official executioner position dates back to 1202 when an eminent headsman, Nicolas Jouhanne, was named as the official executioner of the Normandy town of Caux. This job was tough as it was considered a taboo back in the day and royal executioners were regularly ostracized. After the end of the French Revolution period, the job of a royal executioner also slowly ceased to exist. However, after the republican revolution in Turkey executions were still being carried out until the abolition of capital punishment in the country.
#2. Court Jester:
Court jesters were universal characters in their time and were found across eras - in ancient Egypt, Rome, and China, in Renaissance Europe and in czarist Russia, and at the courts of the Middle East and ancient India. While entertaining the kings and queens was their primary job, jesters were also often required to go to the battlefield with their masters – to deliver messages between the leaders of the warring armies. By the end of the 18th century, the role of the jesters had died out.
Before electricity, gas and oil were used to light up the streets. Gas lamps were first installed in London in the early 19th century and since someone was needed to light them, the job of a lamplighter was born. Lamlighting was considered a prestigious job and even women did it at times. This was a relatively safe job as the types of equipment they used were whale blubber, wick trimmers, and a ladder.
#4. Human "Computer":
During World War II, human “computers” were employed to perform complex mathematical equations. In the mid-1900s, even NASA used these human computers to carry out intricate computations. Once the hand-held pocket calculator was invented in 1966, and advanced varieties followed it, human computers slowly ceased to be extinct.
#5. Video Store Employee:
Before streaming services had invaded our lives, video stores were the most happening place in the town for movie buffs. The video store clerks employed at several popular video stores like ‘Blockbuster’ were often well versed in cinema history and had a keen eye for suggesting different genres to eager customers. Today, only a handful of video stores remain and video store employees would soon become extinct.
#6. Organ Pumpers:
Pipe organs in churches were winded manually before electricity was discovered. A group of men generally were assigned this task and they would pump the bellows. Some of these pumps were hand-operated and many others worked with pedals. In many small churches, organ pumpers weren’t even paid. However, every church that had a pipe organ also had organ pumpers.
#7. VCR Repairman:
Anyone who has grown up or lived through the 1980s-90s, would be familiar with this job. VCRs or videocassette recorders were the standard equipment in countless homes. Often, a video cassette would get stuck in the machine and the VCR repairman would be called upon to resolve the issue. With the rise of DVDs and streaming services, the VCRs became obsolete and so did the job of its repairman.
#8. Knocker Upper:
Known as a “knocker-up”, these people were employed to perform the duty of a human alarm clock. The knocker uppers, usually elderly men and women, would use a truncheon or a stick to knock on doors or windows of people to wake them up in the morning. This job was quite common until the 1920s.
#9. Ice Cutter:
Ice cutters were required to venture onto frozen water bodies, score the ice and then cut it through with a horse-drawn device. They made the final cuts with their hands. This was a dangerous job and many ice cutters often fell into the icy water during the process. After harvesting the ice, these men delivered it either to the customers or to factories. The job of an ice cutter was quite common till the 1930s but stopped after that when mechanical refrigeration became popular.
#10. Bowling Alley Pinsetter:
In the early 1900s, young men were hired to set the pins in a bowling alley. Called as "pinboy" back then, these men were required to handle four lanes per shift at a pay of 10 cents per game. After the Automatic Pinspotter was launched at an American Bowling Congress tournament in 1946, the machine became the standard in every bowling alley soon after and the job of a pinsetter ceased to exist.
#11. Encyclopedia Britannica Salesman:
As the name suggests, Encyclopedia Britannica salesmen would deliver these heavy black books door-to-door. These encyclopedias, the property of Chicago-based Encyclopedia Britannica, were extremely popular and were first marketed in the 1790s. By the 1930s, more than 2,000 salesmen were selling the Britannica books door-to-door in Britain alone. Sadly, in 2012, Encyclopedia Britannica went completely digital and stopped producing its print editions. With that, the salesmen of these once-popular books too became obsolete.