Why don’t internet chat rooms exist anymore like in the 90s?

They still sorta exist but its pretty much in the form of applications and games now. Any multiplayer online game is essentially a chat room. Matchmaking lobbies have always been chat rooms. VR apps like Big Screen, Altspace, Sansar, VRChat, Facebook Spaces are all virtual chat rooms. One of the first avatar based chat rooms I used was Habbo Hotel and that’s still there, remarkably! And Second Life is also still there. So is mIRC and other IRC clients. Discord and Telegram can also be used to find ‘chat rooms’.

But the same kind of chat rooms, the ones that used to exist on random websites on the internet i.e Yahoo Chat, Java applets that had chat rooms, etc those are mostly gone, and that’s a shame. I made some of my first online friends using online chat rooms (I think it was a website called iSketch).

I think the reason random websites with chat rooms no longer exist is I think as an online population we’ve gotten more cautious than we did before. In the 1990s and early 2000s the internet held a sense of wonder for most people, and we went to various websites, we didn’t care so much about security, we wanted to meet and discover new people, talking to strangers online was kind of cool! the popular phrase A/S/L came about because we were all meeting random people online. I remember when webmasters and webmistresses would just leave their AIM/MSN handle on their contact page, and I would add them randomly and start talking to them. Imagine that! It was definitely a more innocent time.

And then social media came. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram etc and with that we shifted the way we used the internet. Talking to strangers was now a ‘dangerous’ activity because we don’t know who they might be, they might be a pedophile, they might be a stalker, etc. We only talk to friends and people we trust now! 

Another problem is these chat rooms were often filled with spambots. That made it very annoying to use these rooms sometimes as these bots would have to be manually kicked by the host of the room (who is sometimes afk).

And that’s kind of sad. That sense of wonder and discovery that the early internet brought has largely disappeared as people became more wary of meeting people they didn’t know online. Can you imagine in today’s world giving people your age/sex/location? that used to be such a common thing at one time.

RIP internet chat rooms.

Yahoo Chat

SharedTalk by Rosetta Stone (I remember using this in 2014 before they shut down)

Java Chat applets (used to be everywhere on early websites)


What are some of the most incredible technologies that became lost in time?

Palm Pilots / PDAs – before smartphones, people carried these around to take notes and keep track of appointments

iPod Classic. When I first saw these I was amazed that such a small device could fit so many songs – and the clickwheel was magic – it moves the navigation when you move your thumb around it how amazing is that!

VCRs. Back in the day you could put in a blank tape, and whatever you are watching on your TV be it your favorite movie or TV show, can be recorded onto your very own VHS tape. You can even schedule it to do that when you are at work or school. That’s amazing isn’t it? I don’t think DVDs or Blurays have that capability these days – at least not standard in those players

Sony Walkman.. before the Walkman came out, people listened to music at home through LPs and a record player. They could not carry that with them when they were outside. The Walkman changed music listening habits forever

Car Phones. Before cellphones, how else could you contact someone while you were driving?

Typewriters. Before computers, this is what people used to submit their homework.

Film Cameras. Before digital cameras, you had to take your film to a dark room to be developed. You had no way of previewing the image like you do now.

Portable DVD players. Replaced by iPads now.

Portable electronic dictionary. Replaced by smarphones now

Portable GPS. Also replaced by smartphones

Ball mice

CRT monitors

Pagers – used to be all the rage in the 1990s

8 track tape – ask your father

The venerable floppy disk which has now just become the save icon on your menu bar

Record player.. this is not entirely obsolete but lets just say its now a *niche* item

Payphones.. replaced by cellphones now

Slide Ruler – replaced by calculators

Instant Messengers – replaced by mobile messengers now

all these technologies will be lost in time… like tears in the rain

General Tech

10 tech things I’m nostalgic about

A lot has changed in 12 years. This year is 2014. I started My first website in 2002, 12 years ago. A lot of things have changed since then, technology wise and culture wise. But for me, I miss some things that we had back then but less common now. Here’s 10:

1) Phones with long battery life

Motorola RAZR
Motorola RAZR

Remember the candy bar phones? Remember flip phones and slider phones? The Motorola Razr? All those phones couldn’t play apps or games, and had a crappy web browser, camera, and texting interface sure, but – their batteries lasted a long time! I remember the old candy bar phones lasting weeks on end without having to charge. These days we all have to charge our smartphones at least once a day.
Also, remember cellphone charms?? That used to be the way to customize your phone. Now its turned to smartphone cases.

2) Payphones

very rare these days
very rare these days

Yeah, do you see any payphones anymore? No, because everyone has a smartphone now. But what if I lost my phone or ran out of battery? Well tough luck, because payphones are all gone now. They are ‘legacy’ artifacts.

3) Internet Chat rooms

The old Yahoo Chat rooms
The old Yahoo Chat rooms

Remember when people met random strangers in chat rooms powered by Java applets? Bots? People getting kicked? Meeting ~hottiebabe13~ or ~darksoul_12~ online? Well thats not common anymore, these days I don’t see any internet chat rooms anymore, its all just been replaced by social networks, which isn’t exactly the same. I did find some sites like sharedtalk and habbo hotel which brings me back, but most chat rooms have disappeared.

4) ICQ/MSN/AIM/IM clients

MSN messenger
MSN messenger back in the day

Who uses IM clients anymore? Now everyone just uses apps on their phone like Wechat, Whatsapp, Kakaotalk, SMS, etc or Skype/Facebook/Twitter. So when people ask me ‘hey what did you use to connect with people before Facebook?’ I’ll just say, yeah there was this “app” called MSN and I would just ask people for their MSN id… thats how we kept in contact back then. Ditto for ICQ and AIM.

5) PDAs / Pocket PCs / Palm / Blackberry

This was a PDA
This was a PDA

These are all grouped together, but anyways these are all ‘legacy’ technology. For you young people, PDAs were basically personal organizers that served as calendars/calculators/reminders/contacts and they kept track of all those things. They are basically the core functions of a smartphone. PDAs and Pocket PCs disappeared when smart phones came along, but I still remember using my Palm / Pocket PC to keep track of notes, and some even had some basic games on them! And yes Blackberry is dead, so it goes here too.

6) MP3 players (especially HDD based ones)

An HDD-based MP3 Player
An HDD-based MP3 Player

Yes Mp3 players! Remember back in the day when people carried two devices, an Mp3 player and a cellphone? Well they’re gone now! Yes some companies still sell basic Mp3 players, but most people just use their phone to listen to music now! I used to carry around a Creative Zen Vision M, and that thing stored 30 GBs, which was a lot. Now, umm my phone has 32GB but it needs that space for apps too. Some iRivers, Zunes, iPod classics and Creative Zens used to store up to 120GBs of music!

7) Physical Media (CDs, DVDs, Floppies)

Floppy disks
Floppy disks

Yes, everything from the 5.25″ floppy disks, 3.5″ floppies, zip drives, to 2x/4x/8x/24x/50x/100x CD-ROMs/CD-RWs/DVD-ROM/DVD-RWs drives, what happened to physical media? Yes I know it still exists, but less and less computers have optical drives now, and no tablets ever have them. More and more software and “apps” as its now being called, are being downloaded from the cloud now!! While thats not a bad thing, I still like being able to share my physical media with other people and knowing I have a backup somewhere. In fact PC makers don’t even ship OS backups unless you pay extra now. And no, no one I know owns a blu ray writer. Whatever happened to burning CD/DVDs and giving it to your friends? Remember MP3 CDs? Same thing happened to cassette mixtapes too… speaking of which…

8) VHS, Cassettes, Film Cameras

A VHS tape rewinder, a piece of 'legacy' tech
A VHS tape rewinder, a piece of ‘legacy’ tech

Do you know the biggest advantage of VCRs and Cassettes? The fact that you can record over them! I spent alot of my childhood recording my favorite shows and movies on my VHS and music onto cassette tapes, and now its obsolete technology. But you can’t do that these days! You can record to digital media sure, but you can’t record directly to a physical media anymore. Also, Film cameras… analog photography instead of digital photography. We tend to think of everything in megapixels, but back in the day we had to develop film in dark rooms, and the quality of that film is still much better than your average facebook photo.

Speaking of which, 2 trends I don’t like right now: having high megapixel cameras like 13MP+ where people take pictures that take up alot of space on their phone and then upload it to facebook where its compressed to a 100kb~ image. There’s no point. And having super high resolution displays (>240ppi) on your phone/tablet/laptop when most of the internet is not optimized for it, your retina cannot distinguish it, and will look horribly pixellated on the small screen. Thanks a lot to Steve Jobs and the iPhone 4 for starting that trend.

9) Old school LAN gaming and FPS gaming and 2D side scrollers

Blake Stone was one of my favorite DOS games
Blake Stone was one of my favorite DOS games

Remember those old DOS games? Some of them were quality games, like Commander Keen and Unreal Tournament and Duke Nukem, but these days you don’t find those types of games anymore. You find big budget 3D games like Call of Duty or Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto. I lament the simple days where a game would take hours and hours to beat like Prince of Persia or Dark Sun, or old school FPS deathmatch games like Quake III or UT, and the days where you could set up a LAN network and play Starcraft / Diablo II with your friends without an internet connection. There’s no LAN games anymore! What a pity. Now everything is online, and you have to make an account and have a good internet connection.

10) Graphic settings/cards, Sound cards & PC peripherals

A typical DOS game setup screen
A typical DOS game setup screen

These days people just use phones and tablets for gaming – but back in the 80s and 90s, gaming was all about the PC! When we ran a game, we had to first setup and configure the game. We would specify the graphic settings (often EGA, CGA or VGA), the sound card (usually Adlib or Sound blaster), number of channels and voices, and the peripherals (Keyboard, Joystick, Mouse and Gravis Gamepad). We don’t see much setup these days with games, just boot up and play, but no in those dark days we had to execute some bash scripts to run a game. But it was fun though, because who doesn’t enjoy playing Bio Menace or Jill of the Jungle on a Gravis Gamepad??

On that note, I also miss dedicated graphics on laptops! Whats up with that? My first notebook had a dedicated graphics card. Only Alienware and some high end notebooks have it now. 90% of consumer laptops come with integrated GPUs now. And how about PCMCIA/Express cards expansion ports for laptops? They made those laptops really expandable!

I also miss…

This was the most popular search engine before Google
Kids, This was the most popular search engine before Google

Old shrine sites. Pre-Google old messy search engine domains like Altavista, Dogpile, Hotbot and non-Google search sites. Yahoo! Geocities. Angelfire. Lycos. All those website builders. Guestbooks. Netscape Navigator. Windows XP. Xanga. Livejournal. Myspace. The golden age of Flash/Shockwave games (mid 2000s). It was a part of my youth 🙁 now its just Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter…

I don’t miss…

But overall we really accomplished alot in the past decade technology wise, and things I won’t miss include:

CRT TVs and Monitors
Answering machines
Dial-up internet
Modem jacks
Serial/Parallel ports
S-video ports
Firewire ports
notebooks with < 4 hrs of battery life (this used to be the norm until intel haswell came out) VGA ports (some notebooks still have them) 3.5mm audio jack (we still have them and I wish we can switch to TOSLINK ASAP) WAP browsers Composite connections Netbooks Compact Flash and MMC cards 4200rpm hard drives (and HDDs in general) slow a/b/g wireless wifi single core processors (before Intel Core Duo came out) resistive TFT touch screens (this was the norm for tablets and touch screens until the iPhone came out) 2G phones non built-in wireless wifi answering machines Poorly designed websites with flashing banners and animated gifs marquee, bgsound, blink and other obnoxious HTML tags Windows Vista Printers (and I still hate them) Forums (and I still hate them) Fax Machines Overhead projectors (I blame these with my loss of eyesight) Pay-per-view