For some of us, it’s crazy to think that there are now 16-year-old kids alive who were born in the 21st century. And it’s even more mind-blowing to think that these youngsters probably don’t even recognize the ancient technology the rest of us had to deal with on a daily basis – let alone understand how much of a struggle it was to use. Indeed, 2000s kids just don’t know how good they have it.
Remember cassette tapes, for instance? Fortunately for them, 2000s kids probably won’t. They were an absolute nightmare – with the constant rewinding to the inevitable unpicking of the ruinous tape itself, listening to music took far more effort than simply hitting “play” on Spotify. So, click on for 19 more examples of why nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be.
19. Dial-up internet
Kids today will never know the agonizing pain of dial-up internet. Indeed, they’re truly spoiled with fibre-optic broadband – it took about a year to download anything of note in the 1990s, and you lived in constant fear that someone else would want to use the phone line halfway through. And let’s not forget the horrific sound effects your computer would play when connecting…
18. Floppy disks
Once you’d downloaded your files, you could forget trying to take them anywhere on removable media. Flash drives were a distant dream – instead, you had to try to cram everything onto a floppy disk, which packed a whopping 1.44 megabytes of storage space into its massive, square body.
17. Portable CD players
The constant struggle of finding a jacket with pockets big enough to accommodate a portable CD player will be familiar to anyone who ever owned one of those devices in the 1990s. Sure, they were a step above cassette tapes – say hello to track selection – but they were also a massive hassle to carry around. You had to tread carefully, too, otherwise the track would skip and jump.
16. Disposable cameras
Back in the day, instant photos were the reserve of expensive Polaroid cameras. More often than not, we had to put up with cheap, disposable cameras – which meant waiting, waiting and more waiting for the pictures to develop (a privilege you had to pay handsomely for), before inevitably finding out 99 per cent of them were blurry.
Before Angry Birds, Candy Crush and Clash of Clans, there was Solitaire. Fittingly, for a time it was the solitary game to be found on your computer, and the only reasonable distraction from the tedium of work or school – it’s just a shame it was sometimes so frustratingly headache-inducing.
Eventually, another game did come along. But it was no easier than Solitaire – in fact, it was even harder. Truth told, nobody really knew how to play Minesweeper – they just pressed random squares until it was game over. It was sort of like a grand metaphor for life, when you think about it.
13. Internet Explorer
Before Google Chrome, Safari and Firefox ruled the roost, Internet Explorer was for many people the number-one option for browsing the web. Unfortunately, it was also notoriously shambolic: at times, it felt like you couldn’t go five minutes without the whole thing crashing and thousands of error reports filling the screen while you wept silently into your keyboard.
12. Encarta Encyclopedia
You may want to sit down for this one, 2000s kids – once, there was no such thing as Wikipedia. Instead, we had to rely on Encarta Encyclopedia as the source of all our knowledge, which meant constantly switching between multiple CDs to uncover the nugget of information we needed. Of course, an even older generation had to rely on those weird dusty things they call “books.”
11. MSN Messenger
Spending your evenings and weekends on MSN Messenger was pretty much a given in the early 2000s. Whatsapp? What’s that? MSN was basically your only option – and from the horrendously annoying nudges to the massive, screen-filling emoticons, for many, it summed up all that was wrong with the early days of the internet.
So, remember what we said about slow download speeds? Now imagine waiting that excruciating period for a song to download, only to find it was actually a virus that infected and destroyed your computer and everything on it. That, as anyone older than 20 will know, was pretty much the LimeWire experience in a nutshell.
Forgetting to feed your Tamagotchi was the cardinal sin of pre-teens everywhere in the late 1990s. The virtual pet captivated your attention for all of a week, before it was left in a drawer to fester and starve to death, forgotten. In fact, it’s little wonder that we tend not to trust kids with real animals.
8. Video rentals
There was a time when wanting to catch a new movie at home wasn’t so easy. In fact, it usually meant driving down to Blockbuster, hoping they had a copy left on the shelf, paying to rent it and awaiting the inevitable late fees when you forgot to return it. Oh, and the last guy always failed to rewind it, too.
7. Microsoft Paperclip
New technology always brings a learning curve with it. But was Microsoft Works (that’s Office for all you 2000s kids) really so difficult to understand that this interfering and annoying paperclip help tool had to pop up for every single thing you tried to do? Indeed, even the memory of it is making us angry.
When we’d all finally had our fill of Solitaire and Minesweeper, along came Snake to fill the void in our gaming hearts. Before anyone had even heard of apps, the classic arcade game had slithered into the collective consciousness of cellphone users everywhere – and has been a part of videogame history ever since.
5. Landline telephones
Nowadays, you can wander all over the house while chatting away on your cellphone – you can even go for a walk down the street, if the mood takes you. But back when landline telephones were still a thing, you had no choice but to stay put – the line was literally tethered to the land.
4. Cinema listings
Watching a movie at the cinema wasn’t any easier than renting a video. Before the days of websites, you had to check the local newspaper to see what time your desired film was showing, and then you had to actually call up the cinema to book your tickets. It certainly seemed like a lot of hassle just to watch Waterworld.
3. Telephone directories
Movie times weren’t the only things you had to look up on printed paper, of course. If you hadn’t memorized your friends’ phone numbers or written them down, you had no choice but to trawl through the telephone directory to figure it out. And if they had a common surname? You’d better believe you’re calling every “Smith, J.” in the entire book.
2. Printed maps
Going on adventures in new places was a lot more fun back when you didn’t have Google to tell you exactly where you needed to go. But for those times when you just needed to get from point A to point B, trying to decipher a horribly oversized printed map wasn’t much fun.
1. Nintendo Gameboy
The bright, colorful screens of modern cellphones and portable gaming systems mean kids now have a world of entertainment at their fingertips for those long car journeys. But before they came along, all we had was the monochromatic screens of the original Gameboy – and the only thing illuminating those were the intermittent street lights. To be sure, the struggle was definitely real.