Every generation looks back at its youthful period with nostalgia; everything was better when we were kids and nobody can convince me otherwise! However, there’s something about my generation, the early millennials, that does make us special. We grew up in a time of unprecedented technological change; for example, we were born with the cassette, the CD came and went (don’t even get me started on the Minidisc), then it was Mp3, iTunes, and finally Spotify. All in the space of a few years!
The technology that kids now take for granted was refined over the years through our experiences. We eventually got the internet but we needed to wait for it to connect. We had phones, but they were connected to our houses until Nokia came along with SMS and snake. Oh, and we had something similar to Netflix too, but you had to go to rent a tape or DVD at the videostore. Looking back, these things might seem incredibly basic and inconvenient now, but we loved them! And I’ll take my Nirvana/Soundgarden/Faith No More mixtape over your Jonas Brothers Spotify playlist any day of the week…
We here at Bored Panda have created a list of all those ‘struggles’ that we had with technology back in the day, and they are sure to bring back some good memories. Do you recognize a few of these? Scroll down to check them out for yourself, and share your own stories in the comments!
What has happened to some of these technologies? Have they become completely obsolete, or are some still in use? Let’s have a brief look at some of the old ‘essentials’ that are no longer in everyday use.
Fax machines: According to Pocket Lint, the fax machine was essentially a modern version of the telegram. “It allowed people and businesses to transmit scanned documents from one phone number to another,” they write. “The recipient would have the joy of a printed copy of the document bursting forth from their machine. This was all done by a transmission of audio frequency tones that were deciphered at the other end. These days, fax machines have largely been rendered obsolete by the invention of email, the internet and advancements in computing technologies.”
Analogue and dial-up modems: Before broadband and 4G networks came along we connected to the World Wide Web via analogue and dial-up modems.
“These marvels of technology required an open phone line and a lot of patience to get working. If anyone called while you were connected to the ‘net then you’d immediately lose connection. Browsing the web was slow and painful, but it was a thing of beauty and showed promise for the future that we now live in,” Pocket Lint explains.
Floppy disks: Floppy disks first appeared in the 1970s, as a means of storing data from the first ‘personal’ computers.The first was the 8-inch floppy disc, capable of storing just 80 kilobytes of data. “As the floppy disks got smaller, their storage capacity grew and by the mid-1980s the 3.5-inch floppy disk was able to store a respectable 1.44 MB. Floppy disks were unfortunately vulnerable to magnets and heat, and easily corrupted. By the 1990s software size meant many disks were required for most applications (Adobe Photoshop required over a dozen disks to run) so CD-ROMs began to take over. The floppy disk now only lives on as a save icon in most software applications.”
No Internet struggle.
Portable music players: There have been many types of portable music player over the last few years, from cassette players like the Sony Walkman, CD players like the Sony Discman, Minidisc players and MP3 players.
“We have both fond and frustrating memories of each of these players,” Pocket Lint writes. “Whether it was fighting Walkmans to save a chewed up tape or desperately trying to fit a portable CD player into a coat pocket.”
“Perhaps one of the least popular formats of optical-based digital storage was the MiniDisc. With a high storage capacity of as much as 1GB, these discs could hold up to 45 hours of audio in a compact format. The MiniDisc appeared at a time when CDs were still dominating and thus struggled to gain popularity in the marketplace. MiniDisc sales began to dwindle when MP3 players started to gain popularity and were finally killed off as a format in 2011 when Sony ceased production.”
Vinyl records: This is one piece of technology that has been reborn, while other audio formats have come and gone. “Vinyl records are probably one of the oldest and most long-lasting formats for storing audio recordings. Available in varying formats since the late 1800s, the vinyl record is still in production today and is another format that’s sworn to be the best by audiophiles and sound enthusiasts alike. The format has even had a sales resurgence of late.”
Another piece of retro technology that seems to remain relevant for enthusiasts is the Film camera. “The traditional film camera has basically long since been pushed from the mass market by the modern age of the digital camera.”
“No longer do we need to rely on reels of film or trips to the local shop to get them processed. Digital cameras, SD cards and modern computing systems mean we can snap away happily and see the results of our photos instantly with far less hassle and expense.”
Still, for artists, professional photographers and retro lovers, the process of creating a photograph the old fashioned way represents a challenge and a certain satisfaction that digital photography lacks.
Waiting an eternity for one song.