By Nathan Barry
There are some things in this world that will never be forgotten, this week’s 40th anniversary of the moon landing for one. But Moore’s Law and our ever-increasing quest for simpler, smaller, faster and better widgets and thingamabobs will always ensure that some of the technology we grew up with will not be passed down the line to the next generation of geeks.
That is, of course, unless we tell them all about the good old days of modems and typewriters, slide rules and encyclopedias …
1. Inserting a VHS tape into a VCR to watch a movie or to record something.
2. Super-8 movies and cine film of all kinds.
3. Playing music on an audio tape using a personal stereo. See what happens when you give a Walkman to todays teenager.
4. The number of TV channels being a single digit. I remember it being a massive event when Britain got its fourth channel.
5. Standard-definition, CRT TVs filling up half your living room.
6. Rotary dial televisions with no remote control. You know, the ones where the kids were the remote control.
7. High-speed dubbing.
8. 8-track cartridges.
9. Vinyl records. Even today’s DJs are going laptop or CD.
10. Betamax tapes.
12. Laserdisc: the LP of DVD.
13. Scanning the radio dial and hearing static between stations. (Digital tuners + HD radio bork this concept.)
14. Shortwave radio.
15. 3-D movies meaning red-and-green glasses.
16. Watching TV when the networks say you should. Tivo and Sky+ are slowing killing this one.
17. That there was a time before ‘reality TV.’
Computers and Videogaming
18. Wires. OK, so they’re not gone yet, but it won’t be long
19. The scream of a modem connecting.
20. The buzz of a dot-matrix printer.
21. 5- and 3-inch floppies, Zip Discs and countless other forms of data storage.
22. Using jumpers to set IRQs.
24. Terminals accessing the mainframe.
25. Screens being just green (or orange) on black.
26. Tweaking the volume setting on your tape deck to get a computer game to load, and waiting ages for it to actually do it.
27. Daisy chaining your SCSI devices and making sure they’ve all got a different ID.
28. Counting in kilobytes.
29. Wondering if you can afford to buy a RAM upgrade.
30. Blowing the dust out of a NES cartridge in the hopes that it’ll load this time.
31. Turning a PlayStation on its end to try and get a game to load.
33. Having to delete something to make room on your hard drive.
34. Booting your computer off of a floppy disk.
35. Recording a song in a studio.
36. NCSA Mosaic.
37. Finding out information from an encyclopedia.
38. Using a road atlas to get from A to B.
39. Doing bank business only when the bank is open.
40. Shopping only during the day, Monday to Saturday.
41. Phone books and Yellow Pages.
42. Newspapers and magazines made from dead trees.
43. Actually being able to get a domain name consisting of real words.
44. Filling out an order form by hand, putting it in an envelope and posting it.
45. Not knowing exactly what all of your friends are doing and thinking at every moment.
46. Carrying on a correspondence with real letters, especially the handwritten kind.
47. Archie searches.
48. Gopher searches.
49. Concatenating and UUDecoding binaries from Usenet.
51. The fact that words generally don’t have num8er5 in them.
52. Correct spelling of phrases, rather than TLAs.
53. Waiting several minutes (or even hours!) to download something.
54. The time before botnets/security vulnerabilities due to always-on and always-connected PCs
55. The time before PC networks.
56. When Spam was just a meat product — or even a Monty Python sketch.
58. Putting film in your camera: 35mm may have some life still, but what about APS or disc?
59. Sending that film away to be processed.
60. Having physical prints of photographs come back to you.
61. CB radios.
62. Getting lost. With GPS coming to more and more phones, your location is only a click away.
63. Rotary-dial telephones.
64. Answering machines.
65. Using a stick to point at information on a wallchart
66. Pay phones.
67. Phones with actual bells in them.
68. Fax machines.
69. Vacuum cleaners with bags in them.
70. Taking turns picking a radio station, or selecting a tape, for everyone to listen to during a long drive.
71. Remembering someone’s phone number.
72. Not knowing who was calling you on the phone.
73. Actually going down to a Blockbuster store to rent a movie.
74. Toys actually being suitable for the under-3s.
75. LEGO just being square blocks of various sizes, with the odd wheel, window or door.
76. Waiting for the television-network premiere to watch a movie after its run at the theater.
77. Relying on the 5-minute sport segment on the nightly news for baseball highlights.
78. Neat handwriting.
79. The days before the nanny state.
80. Starbuck being a man.
81. Han shoots first.
82. “Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.” But they’ve already seen episode III, so it’s no big surprise.
83. Kentucky Fried Chicken, as opposed to KFC.
84. Trig tables and log tables.
85. “Don’t know what a slide rule is for …”
86. Finding books in a card catalog at the library.
87. Swimming pools with diving boards.
88. Hershey bars in silver wrappers.
89. Sliding the paper outer wrapper off a Kit-Kat, placing it on the palm of your hand and clapping to make it bang loudly. Then sliding your finger down the silver foil of break off the first finger
90. A Marathon bar (what a Snickers used to be called in Britain).
91. Having to manually unlock a car door.
92. Writing a check.
93. Looking out the window during a long drive.
94. Roller skates, as opposed to blades.
96. Libraries as a place to get books rather than a place to use the internet.
97. Spending your entire allowance at the arcade in the mall.
98. Omni Magazine
99. A physical dictionary — either for spelling or definitions.
100. When a ‘geek’ and a ‘nerd’ were one and the same.