It’s hard to believe that teenagers now won’t remember the days of dial-up connections or having to choose between the internet or the landline, but that’s the harsh truth of it.
For those of us that fondly remember the simplicity of life before face recognition technology and cyber attacks, here are 10 of our favourite things when things weren’t so advanced.
Oh, Teletext. The only form of digital entertainment before the days of the internet.
I don’t think anyone really knows what the point was but you can bet your bank that when the daily quizzes were ‘uploaded’ i was ready to be the smartest person in the world.
Weather reports, holiday bookings and the TV guide. HOURS of fun for everyone. Sigh, things really were much simpler.
It hurts my heart slightly to know the youth of today will never know the world of MSN.
The ’90s really was the decade of instant messaging. The idea that you and another person could be having a realtime conversation without being on the phone was pretty mind-blowing. MSN was the most memorable platforms for this conversational tool and we can’t deny, it was the highlight of our day!
Firstly you had your username which HAD to be the coolest and even the most colourful if you were a genius in basic colour codes. Then you had the passive-aggressive world of blocking, that’s right, online pettiness has been alive and well since the ’90s. Also, we can’t forget the ever enticing game of logging off and on again so your crush would see you’re online and hopefully start up a chat (they never did).
The sound of nostalgia. Who knew we’d be looking back on dial-up with fond memories?
The painstaking, long and frustrating noise that you had to sit through to access the slowest internet speeds. This also came with the age-old battle of phone vs. the internet because, no, you couldn’t have both.
Shout out to the kids (like me) that used to pretend the dial-up sound was a song and dance along to it.
Just me? okay moving on.
There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush you would feel when using this (very illegal) dodgy downloading software. Were the police going to bust your door down at any moment for downloading the latest My Chemical Romance album? Was your friends S6EP2 file going to be the real thing or an NSFW video?
The thrill was real, and so were all of the risks. Not only was Limewire riddled with viruses that your 90’s computer could not protect you against to save its life, but there was a lot of questionable legal issues. Limewire allowed you to download pretty much anything from TV, movies and music, but it wasn’t quite as kosher as we had ourselves believe and most of the content was illegally distributed with no licensing.
It was the time before USB’s or Dropbox and the only way to transfer your documents from one place to another was the ancient floppy disk.
Although they were still going strong up until as recent as 2009 (with Sony selling 12 million of them in one year) they sadly ended their reign in 2011. Not only were they very capable of breaking at any point but, in comparison to now, their memory holding ability was beyond feeble at just 1.4 MB of space.
The godfather of social media, MySpace paved the way for all the platforms you know and love today.
With the owner Tom being everyone’s first friend, MySpace was the go-to site for online communication and vanity. There were even influencers on MySpace (although there was much less benefit then than there is now to being an influencer! Let’s just say, brand deals were sparse). With its customisation theme feature, it really was a place to express yourself and desperately hope you were liked by your fellow MySpace community.
The feeling of utter joy when you logged in to see new messages, photo comments and (most importantly) friend requests! It was all about how many friends you had and how ‘internet famous’ you could be.
The world of MySpace even created some of the celebrities we know and love today!
Arctic Monkeys have MySpace to thank for their first record deal after fans made a page for them and it became the hotspot for people discovering their music! Jeffree Star, of course, started out as hugely successful on the site, using it to promote his edgy look and unconventional music. He now owns one of the largest beauty brands on the planet and is worth an estimated $50 million!
Y2K was a perfect example of how the digital era was growing too fast and the world was not okay with it.
For those of you who haven’t heard of the Y2K drama, I’ll boil it down.
Basically, when computers were coded in the ’60s and ’70s, engineers only used the last 2 digits of the year (so instead of 1960 they’d just input 60) to save space as computers didn’t have a ton of memory back then. So, because of this, it was suspected that inputting 00 (for the year 2000) would confuse the software into thinking it was 1900. This lead people to think that once the 1st January 2000 hit, all computers would stop working causing hospitals to fail, banks to crash and even causing planes to fall out of the sky.
How did the world react? Well, a TON of Americans hid in bunkers with food and supplies in case there was a nuclear war. Governments around the world spent millions on crisis control and the world held it’s breath as the clock ticked midnight.
Spoiler – all computers rebooted themselves to a new century and we all went on with our lives.
The days before Netflix, Youtube and easy to download content were rough for us all.
With streaming options being limited and insufferably slow, the only hope you had of watching ANYTHING on demand was to download it.
Now, the issue starts with memory. The average amount of memory your machine had is 8mb (which is pretty incredible compared to the average now which is 4000mb/4gb). This meant that not only did you have to be careful just how much you downloaded but the waiting time was painful.
Gaming on your computer
Call of Duty? Nope.
Skyrim? Minecraft? Nope and nope.
Okay so what exactly did we do with all of our free time? Well, I have 2 words for you.
Solitaire and Minesweeper.
Solitaire was the most addictive game ever and yet didn’t involve any fancy graphics or even levels. To put it simply, it was cards. We played cards on our computers. Don’t judge us.
Minesweeper was the single most intense gaming experience we knew in the 90s. The idea was to pick random squares while trying to avoid any bombs because bombs = game over. It was pretty exhilarating.
In a time before anti-virus software and ad/pop up blockers, it was inevitable that your family computer was going to come under some kind of attack. However, with there being no legal repercussions or advanced technology, hacks were usually quite comical. There was very little to steal from a computer and hackers weren’t nearly as advanced as they are now.
This resulted in viruses that played poker with you in exchange for your data and even viruses that were simply just a glitchy pixel man moonwalking along the screen. None of this ‘give me bitcoin for all your emails’ business. Things were simpler in the ’90s.
SO, there you have it.
There was a time when you’d sit and talk to your family rather than sitting on your phone and computer use was limited to one hour a night if you were lucky.