I was born in 1989 and remember the '90s super well. It's interesting how so many of us '90s babies think about this time period with smiles on our faces. There are many things that we still love about this decade today: plaid, babydoll dresses, half-up half-down hairstyles, and pop culture. But there are many things, particularly when it comes to technology, that we really can't believe we had to endure.
When we think about the '90s, we realize that kids today would probably think that we're joking if we told them the ways that we watched movies and used computers. Of course, technology just wasn't as advanced as it today, and we really had no other choice. These things were just part of our daily lives and we had no idea how things would change. Streaming? Smartphones? We couldn't even dream of this stuff. Growing up today is a lot different and the way that children and teenagers communicate with each other is definitely on another level. It feels like it has always been this way, but it's a recent change.
Read on to find out 20 things that kids of this generation will never understand, including the computer room.
20 Your Friend's Separate Computer Room With A Black Leather Chair
Every '90s kid can remember going to a friend's house and seeing that they had a computer room. This was often in the basement but could have been anywhere in the house. The room had a huge, clunky computer (at least by today's standards) and a black leather chair. It was often very messy, too. I remember a junior high school friend's computer room was on the second floor of her house, and her dad had a whole set-up including a microphone that we used to pretend that we were pop singers.
Can kids today even picture this?! Probably not. A computer room just wouldn't exist. Now, we have laptops, and we can bring them anywhere.
19 The Super Loud Sound Of AOL Dial-Up
Today, we open up an app on our smartphones and we're online right away. Or we turn on our laptops and we're using our Internet browser in about one second.
That definitely wasn't the case back in the day. I can remember the super loud sound of AOL dial-up and I know that everyone who grew up in the same time period does, too. Kids of this generation will never understand just how loud dial-up was and how you would have to wait for your Internet to connect. Sure, we were annoyed and wished that it was faster, but we had no idea that would be possible soon enough.
18 Wheeling An Old TV Into The Room To Watch A Film In Class
I can remember quite a few times when a junior high or high school teacher said that we were watching a movie that period... and they literally wheeled this huge, old TV into the room. It was very low-tech by today's standards. But we were just happy not to have to do anything in class, let's be honest.
Kids of this generation wouldn't understand this, either. Today, teachers have much more advanced technology, from projectors to laptops, and if a school has a TV, it's probably a much nicer one. But this is how things were done back in the day, that's for sure.
17 Buying A CD For One Song That You Loved
Thanks to iTunes, we can buy individual songs and we no longer have to buy an entire CD for $20 (or more) even though we just want to hear that one song that was on the radio all the time. And now thanks to Spotify, people are streaming music and the idea of purchasing albums definitely seems very old-school.
Kids of this generation wouldn't understand that we used to buy actual CDs. They would probably look confused because this just isn't a thing that people do anymore (and, sadly, most of the record stores are gone now). I used to buy CDs all the time in high school, almost every week, and a lot of my friends did, too.
16 Renting A Movie And Having To Rewind It Manually Because The Person Before You Didn't
There was a note on Blockbuster videos that said, "Be kind, please rewind," and it was really important. If you rented a movie and the person who rented it before you hadn't done this, you had to rewind it yourself before you could watch it.
If we think about this by today's standards, this is pretty wild, right? Kids today would look at us like we're crazy if we told them this. To them, you use all kinds of streaming services if you want to watch a movie. And if you must rent a film, you can use iTunes. Video stores aren't a thing anymore, either.
15 Taking Photos That You Couldn't See Right Away
Kids from previous generations had to do this when they wanted to take photos of themselves, friends, or an event: they had to use a camera and then get the film developed.
This could take a few days or longer. It's hard to imagine now when we have smartphones that, of course, have cameras in them. When we think about it, we realize that we had to wait for a lot of things back in the day: for our Internet to connect, for a CD to come out that had the track that we wanted, and to see the photos that we took a week ago.
14 You Could Only Find Song Lyrics In The CD Booklet
The Internet can be a wonderful place when we need to look things up and we don't want to wait very long to get answers. When we hear a song that we love on the radio, during a workout class, or at a pub or party, we only have to Google to find out the song lyrics.
That wasn't the case for previous generations. We could only find song lyrics in the CD booklets... which, again, meant that we had to buy a lot of CDs. Kids of this generation would never understand this because it's such a foreign concept.
13 Not Being Able To Tell Who Was Calling
It's tough to imagine a phone not having any caller ID and kids not having cell phones, let alone smartphones. When we called a friend (or maybe a classmate that we had a crush on) in the 90s or early 2000s, they might not have any idea that we were phoning them... at least not until they picked up the phone and we announced ourselves.
Today, kids as young as sixth grade are begging their parents for their own cell phones, and children are growing up basically expecting for this to happen. We all rely on our smartphones so much.
12 If You Wanted To Watch A New Movie And It Was All Rented, You Were Out Of Luck
When I think about growing up in the '90s and 2000s, I always think about this one aspect of daily life: if you wanted to rent a new movie and it was all out at your local video store, you were out of luck. There was just no other way to watch it.
You couldn't rent (or buy) it on iTunes. You couldn't try to find it via one of the many streaming services that are available today, from Netflix to Crave to Amazon. None of these services existed. You had to wait until the video store got more copies in or until people watched it and returned it. I was always so frustrated when this happened... and I'm a little envious that kids today will never have this experience.
11 Using The Library (And Records), Not The Internet, For School Research
When it comes to doing research for school, I'm glad that I grew up in the generation that I did because, honestly, there is something satisfying about doing physical research in a library. It takes a bit of time, sure, but it's worth it.
From looking up records and index cards to finding books in the stacks, I really enjoyed finding information for essays and projects throughout junior high, high school, and university. Kids of this generation are so used to looking things up online that they would probably think that this sounds super old-fashioned. (Okay, so it does sound old-fashioned, but I'm okay with that.)
10 Memorizing Phone Numbers (Or Making A Physical List)
Do we remember the phone numbers of the people that we're closest to? I can admit that I don't know my fiancé's or mom's and dad's cell phone numbers, or any of my friends'. That's because we all have smartphones with contacts and we can just swipe on their name and text or call them.
Back in the day, you honestly had to memorize phone numbers, or you had to physically write them down. This was something that our generation was used to. I also remember writing down phone numbers on post-it notes during my first year of university and sticking them to my dorm room bookshelf. There seemed to be no other way.
9 Playing MASH To Figure Out Your Future
MASH was a really popular game. You would play to find out what your future would be like: who you would marry, what kind of home you would live in, etc. The "MASH" stood for "Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House." It was so much fun.
If kids of this generation heard about this, it definitely wouldn't be something that they would understand. They would probably say that there are other ways to figure out your future. These days, we all follow so many people on social media and say that we want our lives to look like theirs. Playing a game like MASH seems so old-school.
8 Passing Notes In Class If You Wanted To Chat With Someone
When every student in class has their own smartphone, it definitely changes things. Teachers have to make sure that students are listening and paying attention and learning... and not just texting each other.
Back in the day, if you wanted to chat during class, you had to pass notes. Yup. Physical, paper notes. We were super used to it and it felt really normal to us. This is something else that kids of this generation wouldn't understand. It's truly amazing how smartphones have changed everything. We all got used to them so quickly that it's hard to think about a time without them.
7 Using A Flip Phone And Only Being Able To Phone Or Text People
It's funny to think that just ten or so years ago, people used flip phones... and it was normal. You had this kind of phone and you were perfectly content to only call and text people. You couldn't take photos, browse the Internet, use social media, or download any apps. Those things weren't even part of the public culture or conversation yet.
Would kids today be able to understand flip phones? Probably not. We can totally see how they would think that flip phones are lame and that there's no point to them. We agree since we're all used to smartphones by now.
6 Before Texting Existed, You Spent Hours (And Hours) On Instant Messenger
Whether using AOL or MSN Messenger, one thing was clear: if you belonged to a previous generation and grew up in the '90s or early 2000s, you messaged your friends for hours. And hours. You spent so much time on your computer that your parents might have said that you could only use it for one hour every night.
We could definitely think of instant messenger programs as pre-texting. Since we couldn't use smartphones to text our friends, this was our primary form of communication. We chatted about everything from who we had a crush on to what was going on that weekend to what movies we wanted to see.
5 Having A Crush And Not Being Able To Look Everything Up About Them On Social Media
We honestly take this for granted today: we have a crush on someone and we can look them up online and find out things about them. We can see what they did last Friday, what their hobbies are, where they went to school, etc.
Back in the day, you honestly had to ask someone questions in order to find out things about themselves. Maybe that was better, but it's true that there is no going back so we have to accept the way that technology has changed things. I can verify that I had many crushes throughout the years and basically knew nothing about them besides whatever conversations we had in person.
4 Your Whole Class Going To Use Computers (And It Being A Really Big Deal)
I can remember the handful of times that a teacher said that we would be using computers for the next period... and it was the biggest deal ever. We had to walk to another room, find a computer (hopefully next to a friend), and hope that we knew how to actually use these machines and didn't totally embarrass ourselves.
That sounds so old-fashioned today since we all have smartphones and laptops. We're all so used to using computers all day long. But that didn't use to be the case. It's hard to imagine, and we bet that kids today would find it hard to think about, too.
3 Movie Trailers Were Only A Thing At The Actual Movie Theatre
Going to the movies used to be such a special experience. You got popcorn and candy and maybe a soda, you and your friends found the perfect seats, and you got ready for a few hours of entertainment. It was really fun to see trailers for whatever movies were coming out soon... and this was actually the only place that you saw trailers.
Today, you can look up movie trailers on iTunes, on YouTube, and many other websites. Netflix even plays brief trailers when you scroll through the service. It's amazing to think that trailers were such a unique thing.
2 You Could Only Play Games On Your Computer, Not Your Phone, And Phones Had Zero Online Connection
Remember when phones didn't have Internet connections at all? When you really couldn't do much on them at all? When you could play games on your computer and not on your phone (or iPad)?
Those of us who grew up playing computer games on clunky old computers remember that this wasn't always the best experience. Games would freeze or be slow or we didn't feel like we could ever advance to another level. Today, kids are so used to playing games on iPhones and iPads, and there are countless apps as well. It's honestly a totally and completely different world.
1 Only A Few People Had Cell Phones (Or Pagers) And They Were Massive
Remember old movies when characters had pagers and they were as big as their faces? Or when only some grown-ups had cell phones and they were also really big?
It's hard to think that previous generations accepted that only a few people had cell phones. It wasn't normal for everyone to have them like it is today. This is something else that would be tough for kids of this generation to understand. Cell phones have definitely changed a lot.
Take pagers, for example. Someone paged you and then you had to find a phone (or a pay phone, which also seems crazy now) and call them back. Can any of us imagine doing that today?!