As described in the title, I'm looking for a plain language phrase that means solid, dependable and established technology. The phrase I'm struggling to recall was I'm reasonably certain a two word phrase that might have terminated in something like era or period.

I think I've read it most recently in relation to Space Exploration, where it is used when the author wishes to make the point that the next steps can be undertaken without requiring new technology to be developed.

I think the phrase relates to a time period, "something era" for example.

To use it in a sentence; None of this is new, it is all {Insert Phrase} technology.

  • 1
    Maybe None of this is new, it is all Stone Age technology? This does carry the implication of the technology being outdated or obsolete though.
    – wrymug
    Jun 26, 2018 at 13:28

3 Answers 3


I think I read the same book you did, and the phrase you’re looking for struck me as it struck you, and has stuck with me:

The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must, by Robert Zubrin, published by Simon and Schuster, 2012.

In it Zubrin describes the steps needed for human habitation on Mars, starting with the first and most critical step: manufacturing propellant for liftoff and return for the first visitors (because carrying enough fuel for the return trip from Earth is prohibitively expensive to lift out of Earth’s gravity well).

Here, he says:

screenshot of excerpt quoted below

In 1976, Professor Robert Ash, now of Old Dominion University, and some JPL collaborators published a paper laying out some simple, robust and well established (Gaslight era, to be precise) chemical engineering processes...

So I think what you’re looking for is:

Gaslight era

But I want to offer a caveat here: this is not a standard or generic term for any proven technology.

Instead, he’s saying for this specific purpose — manufacturing propellant in situ — the techniques developed and perfected during the 19th century by the first wave of “modern” scientists who discovered chemistry, would be sufficient for the purpose.

The goal of the book is to make a clear case that Mars can be settled in a practical and realistic way. Part of that is recognizing that some of the most critical processes don’t require “future tech”, or even high tech, and can be done on a [reasonable] budget.

In other words, the argument behind the phase in this context is:

The same fuel that those pioneers created processes to efficiently and effectively manufacture from simple ingredients, sufficient to move the world from candlelight to gaslight, to illuminate this world, in a sense, is also fuel sufficient to get our astronauts home from another world altogether.

  • That is indeed the same book. Thanks for the image as well. I couldn't get past gaslighting being the term used for psychological manipulation to undermine a person's sanity, to the similar wording here.
    – Jontia
    Jun 26, 2018 at 13:35
  • @Jontia That similarity isn’t a coincidence. It’s the same gaslight in both usages. Just literal in one and figurative in the other (as you can see from that word’s etymology).
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 26, 2018 at 13:40

Tried and tested

Denoting something that has proven in the past to be effective or reliable

This seems the most apt phrase to use in this situation. (Three words not two, but then one is a conjunction.)


Tried and true is another way to plainly state some ting is reliable. Gaslight is an old psychological suspense mystery film. Most of the use of the word in current media is figurative.

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