In Memoriam Of ’90s Technology

http://www.thechiefly.com/culture/digital-notes/in-memoriam-of-90s-technology/

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The point was brought up the other day while Skyping with a friend that he and I were parts of the last generation to know what it really felt like to live in a non-connected world. Chances are that many of you reading this know what that feels like, too. ’90s technology adults are a unique lot: we grew up with the beeper, neon colored flip phones, and 8-disc CD players. There’s a silent understanding between those who spent unending hours on Game Boy Colors when we should have been resting up for school the next morning and the frustrations unleashed by an intense game of Bop It.

There were no social media sites, iPads, or internet games back then — we had to find our fun through other means. So grab your printed MapQuest directions and take a stroll down memory lane with these now outdated, but greatly cherished, old school technology toys and gadgets.

Nokia 3310

nokia

We all remember when we finally got our hands on this brick of a cell phone that was once considered the end-all-be-all of phone technology. At the time, having my very own meant hours of late night phone calls (and by late night I mean 9:00 PM) and rounds of Snake snuck underneath a classroom desk. And remember that rush of buying a bevy of colorful cases at the same rate that we bought Airheads? I do, and just couldn’t help it.

CDs & CD Players

cdplayer

The love affair I had with my portable CD player was a fleeting one, but full of passion. I still remember bringing it to class to pass the time after finishing a test, much to the chagrin of my instructor. Armed with a book bag filled with mainstream rap CDs of the worst kind, I spent my time listening to what I thought were hardcore verses peppered with the occasional skip every now and then. It’s almost a shame the younger generation will never appreciate the disruptive power of a skip. Spoiled bastards.

VCR & VHS

vhs

I was definitely a Disney kid, so my VHS’s of The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and Toy Story were both memorized and worn out. Popping in a VHS was a ritual back then. First, rewind the tape (because one never, ever rewound them); then, while the tape is rewinding, gather some assorted cream-filled Hostess treats for the viewing; finally, press the bulky play button- the only button without a symbol on it due to overuse. The result? An explosion of magical happenings within an oversized box almost as big as the shelf it sat on. The joys of loading a VHS and hearing the mechanical sounds that went along with it are certainly joys most won’t ever get the opportunity to experience.

The Original PlayStation

playstation

Unfortunately, I missed the NES craze, although a cousin of mine had one, but it paled in comparison to the little grey PlayStation box. As a diehard gaming child, PlayStation was my first addiction. My first game was Spyro, and I never looked back, collecting en masse some of the greatest games such as the Final Fantasies and Metal Gear Solids (Dino Crisis, anyone?). PlayStation sparked my lifelong passion for, and passionate philosophical ideas about, video games. Although video games are still around, they’re a different animal — enter any multiplayer game’s chat lobby and you’ll see what I mean.

Answering Machines

answeringmachine

There was something about an answering machine that always piqued my attention; the cassettes were so unbelievably small. I recall running home to delete the contents of said cassette after a teacher had phoned home with a threatening message about my behavior that afternoon. To think, there will be generations that will go without the anxiety of wondering whether or not they’ll get home before their parents to destroy the evidence of bad behavior. More importantly, those generations wouldn’t have a clue as to how to even operate the thing!

Beeper/Pagers

pager

Although I didn’t have one personally, one always sensed the urgency missed calls were regarded with. There seems to be a general disregard for talking on the phone these days (what’s the point of unlimited talk?). Let’s not forget about the hacking of the number pad to send actual messages to beepers — that always blew my mind, and still does. The ingenuity technology is handled with is always something that fascinates me, and beepers are a wonderful example of that. 637, Nick.

Bop It

bopit

What seemed to be the best possible Christmas gift quickly became the source of endless frustration for me and my friends. Although I adored the toy, as oddly shaped and ridiculous as it was, I’ve generally always had a competitive attitude, and whenever I lost at Bop It, everyone knew. Now I just hide my defeated angst behind a pleasant face, knowing I have Bop It to thank for that ability. No one likes a sore loser, but everyone lost at this classic game.

Yak Bak

yakbak

There was some sort of odd, mystical draw to this simple device. You spoke into it for up to six seconds and then the Yak Bak stored your voice to be played back. That’s it. I remember being enthralled by its small, purple shape and simplicity. Looking ba(c)k, I wonder what more productive things I could have done with the time spent playing with this device. That’s childhood, though. Way too much time was spent talking into that thing and being in awe at just how squirrelly my voice sounded. Now that I think about, not much has changed.

Game Boy Color

gameboy

If Playstation was the gateway drug, then the Game Boy Color was the heroin. I mean, I spent DAYS on this thing. Playing what? Pokémon, of course– along with every other kid at the time (any Blue version fans out there?). The ability to take it along with you anywhere you went, especially during school recess where battles determining your reputation were won and lost daily, was the beauty of the technology. Now, where can I get some $1 AA batteries?

Skip It

skipit

’90s toy and tech marketers had an interesting relationship with the word “it.” One of those “it” items included Skip It, and I still remember the day I got one as one of the most joyous days of my life. Skip It was a challenge that needed to be conquered, yet a challenge without an ending. Pretty profound for a product that you repeatedly have to jump over. The bright yellow toy attracted any kid’s gaze and kept them pretty active to boot. There needs to be more Skip Its in this day and age of youth obesity. National Skip It initiative, anyone?

Nicholas Echevarria
Born and raised in the state of Brooklyn. Unhealthy obsessions with seeing new things, pop culture, random technological breakthroughs, comics, films and whatever else happens to be on my mind that day. Check out my blog [lacqueredmusings.com], won't ya?
Nicholas Echevarria
Nicholas Echevarria
Nicholas Echevarria

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