With technology moving faster than we can keep our eyes on, it’s easy to lose sight of how things used to be before the conveniences of the ‘smart generation’. Today’s youth will never comprehend the pains and joys of the pre-internet world. Lucky you, we are here to round up the top 10 things millennials will never experience.
DUB ME TENDER
While the cassette tape was an awkward format between vinyl and CD, it had one particular advantage: the ability to record. Dubbing music onto cassettes was a way to create the perfect driving playlist or to show someone your unending love through song; and if someone made you a mixtape, you’d understand the effort that went behind it. Waiting for the right moment to hit ‘record’ while a radio DJ faded in a song meant make or break when it came to achieving a seamless mix.
BLOW IT ALL AWAY
Before flimsy plastic discs dominated the gaming world, video games were stored on heavy-duty cartridges that could seemingly withstand anything. Unlike discs, a scratch or fingerprint wouldn’t interrupt your game progress; cartridges could take a proper thrashing before you’d start seeing glitches. And while it wasn’t uncommon for games to start up with a blank screen, a simple blow into the bottom to rid it of dust would usually do the job. What’s there not to love about the eight-bit era?
PAY TO PLAY
Long before streaming services like Spotify made artistes’ catalogues accessible at all times and places (with the exception of T-Swift, of course), music was once bought in stores – crazy, right? Saving up your hard-earned cash to blow on a $30 CD was the norm; and while it meant occasionally ending up with a stinker (’cos not all stores had listening stations), music was truly appreciated – and that meant thrashing an album for weeks on end and knowing the booklet art and liner notes like the back of your hand.
BE KIND, PLEASE REWIND
The virtue of digital services like Netflix makes it easy to forget that movies weren’t always in infinite supply and on-demand at our beck and call. If you hadn’t caught a movie in the cinema, then your next chance would be renting the VHS from a video store – if it wasn’t already rented out. Thankfully, the youth of today is spared the frustration of inserting a tape and finding a comfy spot, only to then realise the last person who rented it didn’t have the kindness to rewind it.
If you never had to live through the pains of using dial-up, consider yourself lucky. Anyone that has will remember the screeching melody of the modem as it dialled through to the server – note for note. It’s a good thing browsers didn’t have tabs back then (how on earth did we live?!), ’cos there was no way you were gonna load more than one thing at a time. If you simply must relive the experience, Google (another thing that didn’t exist) “Dial-Up Simulator 2014”. It’s your funeral.
The concept of free music was a mind-blowing development at the birth of P2P file sharing services like Napster. Pirating your favourite artistes’ tracks without paying a cent was both exciting and scary (and scarier now in hindsight that Lars Ulrich had predicted the music industry’s decline). Although it wasn’t always an easy task – finding and downloading albums song-by-song (if they even existed) was as arduous as it was time-consuming in the age of dial-up Internet; taking up to an hour for a single MP3. Say whaaat?
It wasn’t long ago that mobile phones didn’t even have screens, so you were rolling the dice each time you picked up a call. Naturally, this gave rise to the juvenile, yet no less amusing, comedy of prank calling. Getting a group of cheeky whippersnappers huddled around a phone as you affected horrid accents was considered a great Friday night. And things got even better when the Internet brought us ‘soundboards’ to have the likes of Arnie curse at a confused and unsuspecting victim.
The convenience of capturing a photo straight from a smartphone is unrivalled, but it doesn’t quite beat the anticipation of waiting for your holiday photos to develop at the camera shop. Of course, there were instances when a killer photo op turned out to be a blurry disappointment, but that was all part of the fun of refining your photography skills (and seeing how good you were with a wind-up disposable shooter). We can’t say we miss the uncomfortable moment when we were accidentally given someone else’s snaps.
BUILT TO LAST
Believe it or not, mobile phones were once used to make phone calls; and before they became ‘smart’, you never had to worry about a cracked screen if your phone slipped out of your hands. Those ‘brick’ babies were built to last, and casually tossing a Nokia 3310 to a pal wasn’t met with gasps of horror. While we were happy to say goodbye to ‘minute plans’, we’re not sure if today’s smartphones will ever imbue us with the feeling of power like snapping shut a flip-phone did.
HIT THE BOOKS
Finding out the answer to a burning question wasn’t so simple pre-internet. If you needed a wealth of information at the ready, you needed an encyclopaedia. They were large, heavy, and often tattered and torn from students that were either heavy-handed or just liked drawing d*cks. And if new morsels of knowledge arose, it meant forking out a fortune every few years for a new encyclopaedia collection. No wonder schools were hard-pressed for cash! Those Wikipedia donations don’t seem so unreasonable now, eh?
This article was originally published in JUICE Singapore April 2015, Issue #199, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.