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 Well thats not common anymore, these days I don’t see any internet chat rooms anymore, its all just been replaced by social networks, which isn’t exactly the same.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 ๐Ÿ™ 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


4 responses to “10 tech things I’m nostalgic about”

  1. MySpace is actually still around, but it’s more of an events/music/media website now, where you can get hookups and build connections to get into certain events. Xanga’s also around, but you have to pay a lot of money in order to blog (WordPress), and it’s just a big mess. ๐Ÿ˜ (Also pointless…)

    I think what I miss the most is the phones with long-lasting batteries. I’m in Texas, and I’ve even been to Oklahoma and Kansas, and there are still payphones around. :p They also still work, and people still use them. I still use AIM, but I use Pidgin instead for the client because the AIM client is bulky/annoying.

  2. Oh the good old days… I do miss a lot of these things as well! Especially phones with long battery lives. My goodness it’s a pain in the side to plug in my phone every 8 or so hours. I miss just tossing my phone aside and recharging it once every few days!

    I miss MSN the most, haha. Mostly because I actually preferred it over AIM or any other IM. It’s a shame it’s no longer around and it’s essentially Skype now. ๐Ÿ™

    It’s weird, but I guess I don’t miss the separate MP3 players/physical media/etc because I still carry an MP3 player and I still use a lot of physical medias, heh. I prefer backing up my files via CD than on a cloud… makes me feel better holding a physical copy. My computer still has a floppy drive, lol! But I don’t use it anymore, for obvious reasons heh.

    Definitely agree with you on the list of things you don’t miss. I don’t miss any of them either and I’m so glad a lot of them are gone… especially dial-up. ๐Ÿ˜›

  3. It’s so cool that your first site is still up!! For sure, a lot of things did change within the past 12 years; especially with technology.

    I remember those days when everyone wanted a RAZR! And the most popular game was snake! There are some people these days who still use cell phone charms but it’s not as big as before. Instead of the charms looping through a hole, it’s a headphone plug with something attached to it.

    A police one said they removed payphones because mostly criminals use it these days and that if anyone needs a phone, they can ask someone to borrow one… Unless it’s in the middle of nowhere ~_~.

    In addition to the IM apps, people can just text to each other these days since the texting plan is so cheap now. A bit unfortunate, but I do agree with you that BlackBerry is dead now. They had really good phones in the start of the smartphone era! Its innovations didn’t keep up with what’s going on right now :(.

    I remembered back then when everyone saved their work on floppy disks! We went from a megabite of storage to several gigabites of storage for instant storage! Even now, CDs are becoming obsolete. The new MBP line with retina got rid of the CD/DVD drive.

    I would agree with most of the things you listed that you won’t miss. I love printing things for some reason (probably a girl thing with that scrapbook making obsession), haha. Pay Per Views should be free +___+. I say this because I feel bad for going on free livestreams watching some wwe ppv’s every month.

    Though what I agree with the most is the heavy usage of projectors. We don’t use overheads but the regular projectors and sometimes, they’re left at a blurry display and messes with my eyes sometimes since it’s trying to adjust but can’t.

    Take care!

  4. Akrates Avatar

    >Poorly designed websites with flashing banners and animated gifs
    Hah, this trend has come back, perhaps far worse than it used to be. Autoplaying video ads with sound when you visit a website, click-through interstitial ads upon visiting a site (especially news and magazine sites), and annoying gifs everywhere (often of short video clips from TV shows. sites like tumblr look like one of those moving-image newspapers from Harry Potter world).

    And you listed “answering machines” twice

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