I am looking for a word or phrase which can be used in the sentence:

It is a rather old, but _________________ technology.

The word or phrase should address a technology that is totally investigated, researched in detail, and thoroughly optimised, so there is nothing more to find out or improve.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

closed as primarily opinion-based by MetaEd Nov 27 at 23:37

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21 Answers 21

up vote 37 down vote accepted

Most common term I have seen repeatedly and would thus use is, well established.

It is rather old, but well-established technology

Note as correctly point out by @Chappo below in this case grammar dictates a hyphen is required since it is a compound adjective preceding a noun.

"science can be leading edge or well established" Wiki Technology

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • 1
    Note that since the expression is being used as an adjective, it's customary to hyphenate it: well-established. – Chappo Nov 22 at 23:23
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    @Chappo: I believe the most common convention is to hyphenate it in attributive position ("a well-established technology") but not in predicative position ("the technology is well established"). – ruakh Nov 24 at 3:42
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    @ruakh yes, I agree. And there are already a number of questions on this site relating to whether to hyphenate in each case. – Chappo Nov 24 at 3:54
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    I would hesitate to use the phrase 'leading edge", as it seems ["cutting edge"] (english.stackexchange.com/a/39919) is more popular everywhere but Australia, according to Google Trends. – Matthew Willcockson Nov 26 at 4:18
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    Also, while the phrase "well-established" is common generally, a term like "proven" or "tested" is much more common when talking about technology, according to Google Trends – Matthew Willcockson Nov 26 at 5:05

I don't know of a technology that cannot be improved, but we often use the term mature to describe technology that's deemed developed enough to be left alone:

A mature technology is a technology that has been in use for long enough that most of its initial faults and inherent problems have been removed or reduced by further development. In some contexts, it may also refer to technology that has not seen widespread use, but whose scientific background is well understood.
Wikipedia

mature
6. No longer subject to great expansion or development. Used of an industry, market, or product.
American Heritage® Dictionary

  • 1
    An illustrative quotation might help demonstrate the exact semantics of the term. Due to my hobbyist interests, I often hear that Cathode Ray Tubes were a mature technology. What do you think of adding something like "In the 1990s, C.R.T. television technology was a mature technology and new L.C.D. and plasma technologies were expected to displace C.R.Ts. rapidly." from Turkey and the Global Economy: Neo-Liberal Restructuring and Integration in the Post-Crisis Era by Ziya Onis and Fikret Senses? – Tonepoet Nov 20 at 14:36
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    This is the answer. (Can't believe other terms are even being suggested for this.) – Drew Nov 21 at 22:20
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    +1, though in the specific sentence the OP provided, I think "old, but mature" would be a bit awkward. – ruakh Nov 24 at 3:43

You may be looking for proven.

It is rather old, but proven technology.

Collins:

proven in British

adjective
3. tried; tested

a proven method

Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © Harper Collins Publishers

proven in American

adjective
2. known to be valid, effective, or genuine

a proven method

Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

tried and tested

adjective - recognized as reliable; found to be successful

tried-and-tested in British (ˈtraɪdəndˈtɛstɪd), tried-and-trusted (ˈtraɪdəndˈtrʌstɪd) or US and Canadian tried-and-true (ˈtraɪdəndˈtruː) adjective recognized as reliable; found to be successful

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/tried-and-tested

As noted the expression varies somewhat according to location. All of the above versions would be understandable to a British person.

  • Does "state of the art" work? – Ronnie Childs Nov 19 at 21:36
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    No because the OP stated that it is 'old technology'. State of the art only applies to the newest developments. – chasly from UK Nov 19 at 21:42
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    I would recommend changing the headline to tried and true, or maybe tried and trusted, while specifying which entry you checked within the quotation. Tried and tested just seems entirely redundant, and seems to skip over the "completely optimized" sentiment in favor of placing extra emphasis on the thorough research, so it doesn't seem like as good of a suggestion to place first as the others. – Tonepoet Nov 20 at 3:05
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    I did not know that "tried and tested" is British while American speakers say "tried and true". Another language/dialect difference to add in my blue book. @Tonepoet I don't find the former redundant whatsoever, you can try something out without doing any tests on it previously. – Mari-Lou A Nov 20 at 8:18
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    @Tonepoet you claimed the expression was …entirely redundant, and seems to skip over the "completely optimized" I disagreed, and I explained why. For instance, I can try out a new recipe, and find its results are satisfactory. The next time I might change the dosage of something, but find the results to be less than ideal. I may then experiment (test) further with different cooking times, and modify ingredients and doses until I find that perfect formula, the one that guarantees perfect results each and every time. – Mari-Lou A Nov 20 at 17:29

I'd suggest perfected, to capture both the "fully optimized" and "fully reliable" qualities. (Which are not at all the same thing!)

It is rather old, but perfected, technology.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • 3
    Welcome to EL&U! This is on its way to being an excellent answer, but it's lacking one element: supporting evidence. An answer on this site is expected to be authoritative, detailed, and explain why it is correct - preferably by quoting a reference (e.g. a dictionary definition for perfected) hyperlinked to the source. You can edit your post to add this detail; for further guidance, see How to Answer. Make sure you also take the Tour :-) – Chappo Nov 19 at 23:09
  • Good suggestion, but the sentence seems rather stilted. Maybe something like: "This technology is ancient, but has been perfected in the ..." could help? – hkBst Nov 20 at 9:32

All of these answers, mature, well established, proven are absolutely correct in my opinion, but have become euphemisms for "out dated". Whenever someone tries to sell me "mature" technology, I immediately think "barely usable in today's environment".

I would then describe this as stable:

Not likely to change or fail ; firmly established

or fit for purpose:

well equipped or well suited for its designated role or purpose

  • 2
    The sentence does start with It is rather old. – Notts90 Nov 20 at 8:34
  • +1 for stable. It properly connotes that the technology has little need to change over time. – jpmc26 Nov 20 at 21:44

The word that first came to mind for me was robust, which a previous poster had used in describing the meaning of the word they were suggesting ("foolproof").

robust

1d : capable of performing without failure under a wide range of conditions

  • robust software

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • 1
    Hi Chris, welcome to EL&U. This was two elements short of being an excellent answer. It had an introductory explanation, the proposed solution is useful, it was supported by a dictionary definition of the key word, and you cited your source. All that was missing was a link to the online source (preferable but not mandatory), and some formatting to improve the appearance (helps attract additional upvotes!), both of which I've added. I look forward to your future contributions - and don't forget to take the Tour :-) – Chappo Nov 20 at 21:50

I would offer battle-tested

Often used figuratively to imply its been used hard and been put through its paces and hardships - yet still remained viable.

Battle tested

As the dictionary example:

—often used figuratively The Yankees' pen, moreover, is battle-tested. Rivera, and his setup men, lefty Mike Stanton and righties Jeff Nelson and Ramiro Mendoza, have a combined 1.45 ERA over 105 2/3 innings of postseason experience. — Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated, 20 Sept. 1999

For your example:

It is rather old, but battle-tested technology.

This would give the impression that the software has been put through its paces under considerable duress, unexpected uses and intense situations - and each time, came out still working!

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Might I suggest that the technology has been vetted?

vet: to subject to usually expert appraisal or correction

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • 1
    In my experience in the software industry, this is what we say. "This technology has been thoroughly vetted." – IchabodE Nov 20 at 17:06
  • If something is vetted (even thoroughly) that doesn't in any way connote that there are no further improvements to be made to it... though the same is true of most answers given thus far. – tmgr Nov 22 at 0:16
  • Michael, it looks like you've copied your definition from MW. If you quote someone else's words, it's essential that you acknowledge the source. Not doing so is usually regarded as dishonest, in that you're passing off someone else's work as your own. More seriously, plagiarism is not tolerated on our site. I urge you to edit your post accordingly - look at the other answers for examples of how sources are embedded in links. :-) – Chappo Nov 22 at 23:22

In the same vein as the good tried and true or mature is seasoned. The Merriam-Webster entry gives "to make fit by experience" as one of the meanings of the transitive verb. It is used in expressions like seasoned advice or seasoned veterans or seasoned strategic planning consultants.

I think seasoned implies that something or somebody functions properly, without fault. This likely includes sufficient efficiency but does not necessarily mean strictly optimally, so it's only a partial fit.

But it fits your word search nicely nevertheless because it already encompasses the "rather old" aspect. You can simply omit the "It is rather old" and say "It is a seasoned technology."

I like mature or proven, but consider refined:

It is rather old, but refined technology.

I believe it gives a stronger connotation of something that was actively improved over time.

1.2 Developed or improved so as to be precise or subtle.
Oxford Living Dictionaries

The strength of a mature or proven technology is the implication that it has been in use for a long time with few faults. It doesn't necessarily mean that it has been actively improved over time.

May I suggest the adjective fully fledged:

Fully fledged means complete or fully developed.

This adjective comes from the idea that when a young bird has acquired its adult feathers, it is able to fly.

So, the OP's original example sentence is going to look like this:

It is rather old, but fully-fledged technology.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

unbeatable

adjective UK /ʌnˈbiː.tə.bəl/, US /ʌnˈbiː.t̬ə.bəl/.
Unable to be defeated or improved because of excellent quality.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • 1
    Hi kervich, I've edited your post to add formatting and a hyperlink to the dictionary definition. Your post was ok, but these extra elements are desirable in a good answer and will help attract upvotes. To further improve your post, you can edit it to add your own explanation of why you think this is the best solution (be assertive!) and include some example sentences. NB: If you use an example from Cambridge, be sure to add it within the "blockquote" formatting, so that the source is clear. :-) – Chappo Nov 20 at 3:04

Nobody so far has suggested commodity (noun) / commoditised (verb). Where something is so well-understood that anyone can make a new one cheaply, that won't be any better than the other options.

I work in the development of new technology and we often refer to things that aren't interesting to us any more as having been commoditised.

The Merriam Webster definition of commodity covers it under heading 3:

3: a good or service whose wide availability typically leads to smaller profit margins and diminishes the importance of factors (such as brand name) other than price

Since the sentence already contains the context of "technology"...

It is rather old, but _____________________ technology.

An adjective like well-developed could work.

Broadly defined, it means highly or fully developed, so it allows for the possibility that nothing is ever fully developed, so to speak (as previously suggested), and also permits the assumption that something may be...like my sixth hammer, obviously; the first five (all being the same brand, style, and weight)--'Misappropriated!'--carted off like Helen of Troy (Who could blame them?).

But hammers, even six of them, probably don't count as "technology"...

So, here's another example of fully developed technology found online, a video.

Well, that is some fine-looking machinery there...but I wonder if the wire-processing people thought their technology was fully developed before the invention of touchscreens. Hmm, it's just a thought.

1. Clarification for everyone's imagination

Imagine a server software package that has a very robust toolbox of features and functions, but one very specific function in that toolbox that is used for a business critical process has a 100% successful result always without ever having one hiccup.

2. What you ask. . .

In terms of what is asked word for word and per my interpretation of those words...

"address a technology that is totally investigated, researched in detail, and thoroughly optimised, so there is nothing more to find out or improve."

3. Features need love too. . .

Well this [technology] feature on this specific [technology] product has a specific [technology] function which has a 100% success rate for all results.

This technology (to me) which I speak of right here is immaculate and flawless so using words to describe it as such seems both appropriate and reasonable.

So to say some [technology] feature or function of some software package works flawlessly just because that's what you experience with it gives exactly what is being asked of "technology".

4. Original Recipe (before pacification)

I'm thinking perhaps flawless may suit the need.

It is rather old, but flawless technology.

  • flawless adjective

    flaw·​less | \ˈflȯ-ləs \

    Definition of flawless

    1 : having no flaw or imperfection : PERFECT


Otherwise consider immaculate if you prefer it instead.

It is rather old, but immaculate technology.

  • immaculate adjective

    im·​mac·​u·​late | \i-ˈma-kyə-lət \

    Definition of immaculate

    2 : having or containing no flaw or error

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    Immaculate is more often associated with cleanliness than correctness. Also, there are few examples of technology which may be considered flawless, and none which incorporate software. – sethrin Nov 22 at 7:22
  • @sethrin Perhaps so but I imagine the software and the technology of it—like a feature or function of it—and how immaculate or flawless it works giving a consistent positive result 100% of the time in someone's experience. I'm talking in terms of the "address of a technology" being the praising of specific features or functions and perfect results always. That software works flawlessly for processing 834 EDI files for example; I've never had any data issues post import to the database table using this software and it's "X" import functionality, it is flawless. Seems reasonable to me. – Facebook Nov 30 at 0:48
  • Oh.... and the immaculate "X" import functionality I speak of, it is 100% totally investigated, researched in detail, and thoroughly optimized, so there is nothing more to find out or improve with it for that particular job I use it for which I speak of. It can be quite the robust software and in this particular instance, I speak of only that specific functionality, it is flawless!!! It's like Frank's Red Hot sauce too, I put that $&^% on everything!!!! – Facebook Nov 30 at 0:58
  • Lastly, that code is really clean.... It is really clean and immaculate code because it works flawlessly without any issue ever. Code can be sloppy and code can be clean so I don't get your point but I updated to pacify your scrutiny to help expand your mind a bit to visualize better with some context for my choice of words. We're not talking just software see, we're talking "addressing a technology" which can be interpreted more than just as you narrowly described in your comment; hopefully I've expanded your mind a bit on the topic to help clarify for you. – Facebook Nov 30 at 4:53
  • You would have a stronger case if you talked about correctness proofs of software. Your definition of "flawless" code is wholly inadequate, and vacuous. – sethrin Dec 1 at 22:40

In a technical context, you want this definition of the word understood, which carries more weight than the way it is used colloquially:

un·​der·​stood | \ˌən-dər-ˈstu̇d

adjective

  1. fully apprehended

The reason is understood is meant to be complete. If it is 100%, totally investigated, researched into detail, thoroughly optimised so there is nothing more to find out or improve, in science it is referred to as understood. Examples include:

These are all interesting mathematical properties that are relevant to the description of physical systems, but they cannot be used as a catch-all, by saying that eventually all (un-understood) physical systems will be understood in terms of non-linearity.

Source

And

On the other hand, it has been found that many effects occuring in natural and man-made system of propagating waves can be best characterized and understood as parametric interactions of waves.

Source

In both the these examples, the understood concept is a fully studied one that can be safely used as a building block for more complicated models because there is nothing more to learn about it.

Streamlined may fit your needs.

It is rather old, but streamlined technology.

adjective - designed or organized to give maximum efficiency; compact.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/streamlined

I somewhat prefer this since it doesn't speak to the "newness" of the technology but it does imply that it is optimized or researched/planned in detail.

The phrase that comes to mind immediately for me is a well oiled machine.

Macmillan dictionary notes that the adjective phrase describes something that "operates without problems;" Merriam-Webster uses the defining phrase "smoothly functioning."

The word or the phrase should address a technology, which is totally investigated, researched into detail, thoroughly optimised so there is nothing more to find out or improve.

"Well-oiled" indicates that everything is running optimally with no clear room for improvement and no implied efforts toward further investigation or research, but rather continuing with the great status quo. Also, with more and more machines going digital, use of this phrase would cause a mental association with older technology, but technology that is still functioning well.

I think the current top two answers are probably the ones I'd use. However, depending on your context you may prefer the term exhaustive.

It is rather old, but exhaustive technology.

You might have the modify the sentence to add more context for it to make sense since the word exhaustive rarely stands on its own, but to me it conveys the idea that the technology has covered all the bases, so to speak. They've thought of everything.

  • 1
    As you say, the term does not work on its own in this context. – sethrin Nov 22 at 7:24

There is a common acronym for this, used in computing and engineering, which is

COTS - "commercial off-the-shelf" - i.e. you can buy it ready made without having to do any research to invent it yourself, and without needing to understand every detail of how it works.

It is rather old, but COTS technology.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/COTS

  • 1
    This doesn’t address the matter of how good or how well-researched the technology is. – Lawrence Nov 20 at 18:39

protected by Matt E. Эллен Nov 21 at 19:33

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