There are two types of people reading this. People who remember all this stuff, who will just enjoy being reminded of it, and people who are too young to remember but are interested in tech history.
For the former, we’ve got pics.
For the latter, we’ve got explanations.
Come on this journey with me and make me feel old, won’t you?
12. AOL Instant Messenger
By far the most popular form of text chat back in the day before phones with unlimited text plans were the norm.
A peer-to-peer file sharing service in the tradition of Napster that was used almost exclusively to pirate music and accidentally download viruses while trying to pirate music.
10. Ball mice
Before laser tracking was standard, you’d have to take these bad boys apart every once in a while and clear out all the gunk.
A middle ground between traditional maps and GPS navigation, MapQuest (and some lesser known competitors) would automatically generate step by step directions between any two addresses which you could then print out. Obsolete AF now, but revolutionary for the time.
8. Blockbuster video
It’s a little ironic that we look back on this chain with quaint fondness, since they were for a time the monolithic company putting all the independent vendors out of business. Then Netflix came along and the tables were turned.
7. T9 texting
Abbreviations weren’t just slang, they were crazy functional for saving time back when typing a single letter might require four button presses.
6. The Sims
It’s a franchise that’s still going strong today, but it’s hard to express just how integral to the culture this used to be.
5. Newspaper movie listings
In the pre-internet days, the alternative to this was to call a phone number with an automated system that tried and failed to understand what you wanted to watch.
“Rewind” is one of those odd words that’s still in use despite its literal meaning being totally obsolete. Back when everything was on tapes, you literally needed to re-wind the spools to get back to the start of the media.
The follow up to the incredibly popular cassette Sony Walkman (and its many, many ripoffs), the Discman (and its many, MANY ripoffs) was a portable CD player and the cutting edge of personal music players for a while. It wasn’t perfect though. Sure you got higher sound quality and the ability to instantly go to any song on the album, but you also got a lot of skipping if you moved around too much, and the big awkward shape was just too much for most pockets.
2. Digital cameras
Ok, so, obviously digital cameras aren’t gone, and are in fact the rule now rather than the exception, but what we had in the early days looked a lot different. They were generally VERY expensive and fairly low-res point-and-shoot bricks without much customization available. And did I mention expensive?
1. Liner notes
Again, CD’s aren’t *gone* now, but they’re definitely not common anymore. These days you can pull up lyrics to any song on your phone in an instant. Back when discs ruled the world, you were flopping out this monstrosity like some kind of ancient scroll. It would immediately be ripped.
Just think, another 15 years and we’ll be looking back at all the stuff that’s currently in our apartments with similar wistful nostalgia. Technology moves real real fast.
What’s your favorite bit of now-retro tech?
Tell us in the comments.