These days I usually just drop in a 6 pin microcontroller though. Less external parts, cheaper, less environmental instability, much more operational flexibility, and often I can have it perform several circuit functions. If I go to 8 pins, woah, look out!
I do so much digitally now that I've "forgotten" 75 percent of my analog stuff... Once in a while I come upon a cool analog trick though. Sad part is, that usually the "super simple, bulletproof" analog solution with just 5 parts usually ends up being more expensive in qc, bom, and board space that throwing a million transistors at it.
It's a strange world we live in.
I guess the counter argument is that a 555 circuit can't be reprogrammed either, but it also doesn't have to be programmed even the first time.
Notice that the discrete transistors actually cost more than the microcontroller.
Those two transistors had better be hella good to justify the price difference.
Replacing a 555 timer is a very common job for this type of part. It will typically have an internal oscillator, so it won't need the additional components the 555 needs, reducing cost further. Even if you use something more expensive like an ATtiny (cut down version of the microcontroller found in Arduinos, so very easy to develop for) it might still be competitive because of the reduced parts count and board space.
There are many better alternatives now.
EDIT: Found it! it looks like the bold parts are "microgramma" and the less bold looking parts are "eurostile."
Work culture in America has changed since sixties.
Companies now trust marketing/sales boys to know the market better than the very people who made that industry.
In sixties, a CEO comes to an engineer and asks what will be the "next bug thing" in one year term.
Today, a CEO comes to an engineer and tells him what will be the "next bug thing" in one year term.
Taken to its logical extreme you get Theranos. Will lessons be learned? I’m not holding my breath.