Today, we’ve become a tech-obsessed culture and many of us can’t imagine how we could live life without our beloved iPhones and iPads, Facebook, and YouTube. We tend to forget that the 90s were an incredibly revolutionary decade for technology with a long list of inventions that inspired the more advanced technology we have today. It’s actually quite amazing to see how far we have come with highly developed technology in just a little over a century. Let’s take a look back at what we might consider to be technological dinosaurs today, yet the start of a new era of technology.
Pagers- A simple personal telecommunications device for short messages. A one-way numeric pager can only receive a message consisting of a few digits; typically a phone number that the user is then expected to call. It was more an adult gadget; although, I remember my brother begged my parents for one (no idea why) and finally got one. He thought he was the coolest in kid in town, but the only pages he got were from our mother.
Cell phones- during this decade, we began trading in our Beepers for mobile phones. When we look back now, the cell phones of the early 90s are actually quite humorous. They were big, chunky, and awkward and looked more like a cordless landline phone. In the beginning, mobile phones were used by only a few percent of the population of even the wealthiest nations!
As the 90s progressed, cell phones began shrinking in size, and then Motorola introduced the first ever clamshell/flip mobile phone. In the late 90s, I remember the Nextel walkie-talkie type of phones were popular. That “chirp” sound was so obnoxious, but luckily these types of phones got old real fast.
CD players- what did we do before iPods? We had bulky CD players- that’s what. No one was more appreciative of the iPod than the music-lovers who had CD players. I had a blue one covered in the Spice Girls and Nsync stickers. Since there were no iTunes or digital music libraries yet, I would lug around a hefty book of CDs.
Digital Cameras- for much of the 90s, my mother was all about the disposable cameras. She always had those crappy things in hand on every family vacation or at any special event. As the decade proceeded, digital cameras became more available and affordable. We finally bought my mother her first digital camera, which completely transformed her world. The rest of my family and I were just happy we no longer had to hear that loud horrible wind-up noise or be blinded by that obnoxiously bright flash.
World Wide Web- I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine surviving without the Internet today. The 90s introduced us to the World Wide Web, and it actually changed the world forever. The web became user-friendlier with its browsers, which allowed even the least tech-savvy people to connect online.
With the web came email and Instant Messaging. America Online (AOL) was one of the more popular ones, especially among 90s kids, like myself. I will never forget the frustrating experience of just connecting to the Internet. It’s funny how these days we get pissed when it takes a minute to load a webpage. As technology has advanced, our patience has only dwindled. We tend to forget how in the 90s, it took 5 minutes or more to connect online. I remember sitting and watching the little AOL yellow man figure running in place, while the painfully long process of connecting online was taking place. Oh, and who can forget that god-awful dial-up sound, after a while it became nails on a chalkboard- just thinking about makes me cringe. Yet some how this agonizing process seemed to be worth it as soon as I heard those glorious words: “Welcome, you’ve got mail.” Oh yes, there was no greeting more rewarding than that one. I would easily spend hours online, and once I learned about Google and other web browsers, I thought there was just so much to explore. There was no reason to leave my computer ever again… So long as no one called our landline phone, immediately disconnecting me from online.