I am looking for a word or phrase that 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.

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    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 at 15:29

20 Answers 20


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

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    Note that since the expression is being used as an adjective, it's customary to hyphenate it: well-established. Commented Nov 22, 2018 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
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 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. Commented Nov 24, 2018 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. Commented Nov 26, 2018 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 Commented Nov 26, 2018 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.

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

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    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
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 14:36
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    This is the answer. (Can't believe other terms are even being suggested for this.)
    – Drew
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 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
    Commented Nov 24, 2018 at 3:43

You may be looking for proven.

It is rather old, but proven technology.


proven in British

3. tried; tested

a proven method

Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © Harper Collins Publishers

proven in American

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


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? Commented Nov 19, 2018 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. Commented Nov 19, 2018 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
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 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
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 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
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 17:29


As an adjective, "perfect" describes a thing as having the qualities you're looking for; as a verb, it refers to the activity or process of giving it those qualities.

So as the past-tense of that verb, "perfected" says not just that a thing is in a state of perfection, but that it has been brought to this state -- with the connotation that it got there as the result of a rigorous, painstaking, iterative process, as opposed to a single act. Thus:

It is rather old, but perfected, technology.


perfect [ adjective, noun pur-fikt; verb per-fekt ]


verb (used with object)

  • to bring to completion; finish.
  • to bring to perfection; make flawless or faultless:
    He has succeeded in perfecting his recipe for chicken Kiev.
  • 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 :-) Commented Nov 19, 2018 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
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 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

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    The sentence does start with It is rather old.
    – Notts90
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 8:34
  • +1 for stable. It properly connotes that the technology has little need to change over time.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 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").


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

  • robust software
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    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 :-) Commented Nov 20, 2018 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!


The technology has been vetted, formed from vet as a verb:

vet: to subject to usually expert appraisal or correction (Merriam-Webster)

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    In my experience in the software industry, this is what we say. "This technology has been thoroughly vetted."
    – IchabodE
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 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
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 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. :-) Commented Nov 22, 2018 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.


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.
    – Kaia Leahy
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 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. Commented Nov 30, 2018 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!!!! Commented Nov 30, 2018 at 0:58
  • You would have a stronger case if you talked about correctness proofs of software. Your definition of "flawless" code is wholly inadequate, and vacuous.
    – Kaia Leahy
    Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 22:40
  • Again, I'm not talking code or software specifically but the result that some [code] functionality, and thus that's how [the technology used] is perceived by people that use it routinely which makes perfect sense. I think you are simply over-analyzing it with a vague mindset just to make yourself feel like you are correct about something. It's all about context and interpretation so when a statement is vague with specificity, it can be looked at from different angles. Go Sethrin, it's birthday, go Sethrin, expand-your-mind day. Commented Dec 1, 2018 at 23:43


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

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    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. :-) Commented Nov 20, 2018 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


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


  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.



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.


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.


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.

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    As you say, the term does not work on its own in this context.
    – Kaia Leahy
    Commented Nov 22, 2018 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.


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    This doesn’t address the matter of how good or how well-researched the technology is.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 18:39

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