Things That Were Normal In The '90s But Have Since Disappeared

Original Game Boy with Tetris cartridge
Unsplash | Hello I'm Nik

The '90s was a decade of peak nostalgia for many of us, full of great TV, questionable trends, and the first stirrings of what would become an all-consuming, worldwide internet addiction.

It's hard to believe for those who feel like the '90s just ended, but it's been more than two decades since the millennium. What's changed? As it turns out, a whole lot.

You just can't do that anymore.

A green front door
Unsplash | Bruno Martins

"Showing up at someone’s house unannounced because you were in the neighborhood and wanted to say hi."


"A cousin of my mum just turned up at our house one day, just knocked on our door. He was from the Netherlands and we were in Australia, and she'd never met him before. No phone call or anything, just showed up and stayed with us for a couple of days."


Those CDs always seemed like such a great deal.

An old AOL internet CD
reddit | ZombieAuthority

"AmericaOnLine CDs in the mail 3-4 times a month."


"Calling every month to say you aren't pleased with the service, and getting comped full months for retention purposes. Now ISPs are just like, 'lolok'; because they know there are no other players in the game."


Those cameras were terrible.

Two Kodak disposable cameras
reddit | royhy

"Taking your disposable camera to get developed, and having no idea if any of your pictures were even usable until you got the pictures back."


"My senior year of high school I carried a disposable camera with me pretty much all the time and would take just dumb candid shots of my friends eating lunch or mid sentence. Everyone hated it."


You can write emails on paper?

A red post box
Unsplash | Bundo Kim

"I used to write 10 page letters to a girl I knew in Norway and she did the same for me back in the states.

I’d get like one a month and it was so exciting to read them.

People had to put so much thought into those letters before the internet."


Just in case you need it.

Hand writing on a list
Unsplash | Glenn Carstens-Peters

"A printed list of family and friends' phone numbers stuck on the fridge."


"Parents leaving a $20 under a magnet on the fridge for pizza with the number of the restaurant they were eating at, your friends parents down the blocks number, and maybe your grandmother's landline as a last resort."


Back when we knew how to plan.

A Casio digital watch
Unsplash | Olia Nayda

"Meeting people at the time and place you said you’d meet them when you made plans days or even weeks ago.

You used to say 'Hey, let’s hang out on Tuesday at 7pm at downtown bar' and then without ever having to text or call again you’d both meet there."


That Friday night Blockbuster feeling.

Exterior shot of a Blockbuster Video location
Wikimedia Commons | Joe+Jeanette Archie

"Renting movies, video games, VCRs, and game consoles."


"Had a local video store still renting consoles in the mid 00s…was amazing to be able to play them until my mom was able to save up to get me a real PS2.

Feel like it could still be a thing…"


White Pages, Yellow Pages, Blue Pages..."

Two volumes of Yellow Pages
Wikimedia Commons | Andrew Sullivan (Kabl00ey)

"White Pages -- imagine just putting your number and home address out there publicly now."


"I used to work at a place that did a yellow pages book to compete with the one from the phone company.

Just thinking that there was a time when there was market space for not just one phone book, but TWO is bizarre."


Remember when the person ahead of you wouldn't hurry up and end their call?

A phone booth at night
Unsplash | Yuan Yang

"Pay phones in general."


"They're being re-introduced in my city in Germany - well, their main purpose is to act as internet hotspots, but they put a payphone in them anyway. Never actually seen anyone use them but they're there again."


MTV is a whole discussion in itself.

Two cassette tapes
Wikimedia Commons | Sgytje

"I used to keep a few tapes close by to record my favorite music videos off MTV…real crappy thing was if you liked a song that was 6+ months old, the video was almost never on again…you had to get extremely lucky or you had to pray it came on late night because MTV was shifting to shows around the mid-late 90s anyway."


Truly the dark ages.

A vintage Sony stereo system
reddit | [deleted]

"Pressing play and record at the same time."


"I don't know why but this one made me feel the saddest. I guess it just snapped me back to a moment when I was bored and had no where I had to be, no where I planned to go. My life's todo list completely empty. Just me and the weird 90's dust that seemed to float around in front of sunny windows."


I can't bring myself to throw them out.

A binder full of CDs
reddit | [deleted]

"Keeping a binder full of CDs in your car."


"I still have a binder full of CDs in my closet, but it's all game CDs from the 90s. I just never got rid of it, because there's some real memories there."


Things will never be this analog again.

Illustration of a library card catalog
Wikimedia Commons | Internet Archive Book Images

"Card catalogues to find books in a library."


"I took my kids to an older library once that still had their card catalog as well as the computer system. I showed them how I had to look up books. They were in impressed. I thought it was cool."


"Whom may I say is calling?"

A landline phone sitting on a desk
Unsplash | Julian Hochgesang

"Talking to your friend's mom to see if they were home."


"Also picking up other friends in a small group of friends, going from door to door to get the gang rolling. And always discussing who will talk to the parent(s)."


It was a tough time for trivia fans.

Front cover of Leonard Maltin's 1998 movie guide
reddit | [deleted]

"My dad had a huge movie reference book next to his armchair to look up actors and cross reference them. He died in 1998. I think he would have very much liked Google."


"I don't miss people being confidently wrong all the time. The only reason we used to think older means wiser is because we didn't have the ability to fact check them on the spot."


Things were different in a pre-9/11 world.

People queued in an airport terminal
Unsplash | Phil Mosley

"When picking someone up from the airport, you could wait for them at their gate."


"Also on the plane, you could sometimes be invited to look into the cockpit (mostly if you were a kid). I feel like 9/11 stopped that indefinitely."


Oh, to be unreachable again.

Woman running outside in the sun
Unsplash | Aditya Saxena

"Being unreachable."


"I still do this to this day. I'll go on vacation for a week and just turn the phone off, or be far enough out in the boonies that there is no cell signal whatsoever."


What's a landline?

A landline telephone
Unsplash | Devin Pickell

"Hotlines for the weather report, current time, and movie show times."


"The time and temperature phone number for my small hometown still exists to this day. Same pre-recorded voice and everything. It still advertises caller ID as an add-on feature for land lines. Know who’s calling you. It’s easy and convenient with caller id. The time is x. Temperature y."


Don't really miss this one.

A cassette adapter for a car
reddit | [deleted]

"A Discman plugged into a cassette tape with a wire to play music in your car."


"I had this up till a few years ago with my 98’ accord. I had to give a younger co-worker a ride once. It was an educational experience."


I left my attention span in the '90s.

Original Game Boy with Tetris cartridge
Unsplash | Hello I'm Nik

"In general…just waiting for things, alone with only your thoughts. Game Boy ran out of battery? Didn’t bring a book? Time to people watch.

Not a critique on how people are now, more like a critique on just myself. But man my attention span has plummeted since phones/social media. I honestly can barely watch a movie anymore."


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