If you were growing up or were a teen during the decade of the 90’s, then you know that thanks to monumental shifts in technology and science (which also shifted our culture and behavior), there are so many things we did in the 1990’s that other people don’t do anymore. Actually, we can’t do them again either because, well, they just disappeared from the face of the earth. But whether these things made the 90’s better than the present generation is really up for debate since every generation has always had its share of breakthroughs and mistakes.
Well, now that everything – especially communications – is semi-automated, not many people are complaining actually, but it seems like a paradox that life could get easier because of technology and yet simultaneously much more complicated. And while nothing beats a smartphone and Xbox, it seems that people no longer indulge in face-to-face conversations during meal times.
Memorizing Phone Numbers
Back in the 90’s, phone numbers were just 4 digits and later leveled up to 7 digits, which isn’t really that hard to memorize. Since you only needed to memorize a few of the important numbers, it wasn’t hard to do so.
Your brain easily took in your dad’s office number, the school’s office number, your best friend’s home number, and if your girlfriend or boyfriend had a landline phone, that too.
In an age before mobile phones, the city was dotted with payphones at strategic locations, or stores had a public phone for public use and you paid P5 for every 3 minute call. This is one of the reasons why people memorized phone numbers.
This is also the age of the folding pocket phone and address book where you took a pen to write down numbers and the like. And back to payphones, you needed to bring a lot of P1 coins to make a 3 minute call using five coins. Sadly, kids today wouldn’t understand the phrase, “the phone’s off the hook.”
In the age of paper calendars or planners, people not just wrote down addresses and numbers but birthdays as well. All one had to do was look at the calendar to see whose birthday is coming up for that month.
In connection with birthdays in the 90’s, people used to go to department stores and buy birthday cards and either mailed (yes, mailed from the post office) them or delivered them by hand. Department stores before had rows and rows of birthday cards organized into “father”, “mother”, “brother”, “wife”, “boyfriend”, and the like. Again in connection to this, people used to buy Christmas cards and also mailed or hand delivered them.
Using Paper Maps
In the 90’s you could go to a store and buy maps, especially for first time destinations. The maps were printed on paper, took some special folding to do, and certainly didn’t contain GPS to show where you are.
So usually people looked around for street signs or major landmarks, located this on the map, and followed the map to the destination.
Rewinding Video Tapes
Betamax and VHS tapes were all the rage before, but what made them special aside from their playing format was the fact that you needed a “rewinder” to rewind the tape after watching it.
This is because according to the manufacturer, rewinding the tape in the player (mind you, your laptop is much, much smaller than players before) would damage the playing head and so you couldn’t watch your tapes anymore. And mind you, rewinders before were the size of a large toaster. If you can also recall, there were a lot of VHS or Betamax video rental stores before.
Rewinding Cassette Tapes Using a Ball Pen
Well, at least ball pens are still around, but cassette tapes are gone forever. Actually, the thought of even doing the action may seem silly today when recalled, since rewinding a cassette tape inside the cassette player will not damage the playing head at all.
It had something to do with what people would later call as “multi-tasking.” While playing one tape, instead of stopping it to rewind another, you simply got a ball pen and used that to rewind the tape. Some people even became experts by being able to twirl the cassette using the ball pen by using only one hand.
Floppy disks were, at that time, the most ubiquitous means of data storage. One recalls the satisfying clicking sound they would make when shoved inside the PC floppy drive so you could save your school term paper.
Imagine that for one USB drive stick today you needed more than a hundred floppy disks before. They did become obsolete fast.
Passing Notes in the Classroom
With no mobile phones or other gadgets before, there was a time when handwritten (yes, handwritten!) notes on actual paper were passed around in class.
Reasons for passing notes in the classroom varied: borrowing an item, asking for an answer, passing a note to the “crush,” informing your “barkada” where to meet later after school, or simply passing on the latest gossip. The only problem is getting caught and the teacher reading the note in front of the whole class, too bad for you if the note was for your crush.
English Television Programs
No kidding. Back in the 90’s cartoons, anime, and American or British programs were not dubbed into Tagalog. They were shown in their original language format. Kids growing up then watched popular shows like Sesame Street, the X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Simpsons, Dawson’s Creek, Law and Order, NYPD Blue, Dragon Ball Z, Samurai X, Robotech Macros, and many others in English.
Japanese anime were already dubbed in English that were shown in the US so these were shown as they were in English. Today, you feel stupid watching Darth Vader speak in Tagalog, saying, “Luke, ako ang Tatay mo…” Oh, and these programs were shown on prime time since telenovelas at that time were relegated to the afternoon and 6:00 p.m. and after 9:00 p.m. slots.