As an older Millennial, I came of age in the '90s. While that was an indubitably glorious time to grow up, I'll admit it wasn't quite as cutting edge when it came to technology as we thought it was back then. Accordingly, there's no shortage of weird early pieces of technology older Millennials loved that younger Millennials never knew. We may share a generational bracket, but it's a big one — and those of us born in the front half of it spent our formative years in a transitional phase of technology.
In case you missed the generic decree, Millennials are defined as those of us born anytime between 1980 to 2000, according to Goldman Sachs. Clearly, that's a pretty large spread, so it makes sense that those of us born closer to 1980 likely had vastly different experiences than you adorable young'uns born closer to 2000. Older Millennials — unlike our younger Millennial cohorts — didn't always have technology at our beck and call. Rather, we saw the rise of the internet and mobile phones and basically all of the precursors of the modern technologies younger millennials were basically born knowing how to use. They got the super hip and thriving late-20-something phase of technology. We older Millennials got the awkward preteen phase.
So, in case you didn't already feel stoked enough about how lucky you are to be a true digital native, check out some of the dinosaurs of the tech world we older Millennials thought were the coolest.
Long before iPods and other MP3 players made it possible to create hours-long playlists for everything from going to the gym to staying home and NOT watching a movie, we had HitClips. These tiny devices played one-minute clips of songs from the pop royalty of the time — think Britney Spears and 'NSYNC. One minute, you guys. One minute.
2. Yak Bak
This was like Talkboy's slightly less functional little cousin. Essentially, it was a glorified cassette player (minus the cassette) — but oh, how rad you felt when you pressed that "say" button and recorded your roughly six seconds of superior wit into the microphone. Naturally, you then replayed it repeatedly to any unwitting victim who crossed your path. Meanwhile, younger Millennials likely find the notion of any handheld recording device outside of their smartphone to be a foreign concept.
3. The Pocket Locker
When The Pocket Locker debuted, aimed toward teen girls of the '90s, it was considered a major step up for the old fashioned journal format of a pen and paper. We could record our thoughts in it — as well as all our BFFs' numbers, naturally — so we felt like rockstars even though we had to painstaking peck out letters and numbers on the tiny keyboard.
Or beepers. Whatever you called them, they were a must-have technological accessory for many Older Millennials growing up. Now, they are quite literally comedic fodder and something I'm relatively certain only still exists for the use of medical professionals. But still... those beeper codes, tho.
5. Teddy Ruxpin
Granted, Gen X'ers probably lay claim to this talking teddy bear for their generation. But since he came out in the early '90s and I definitely remember playing with mine until his little voice box wore out and he started sounded demonic, he makes the cut. Actually, in hindsight, he was creepy AF even before his cassette-powered voice started to go south.
6. TIGER Handheld Games
TIGER basically cornered the market on handheld technological entertainment back in the day, so it's no surprise Older Millennials spent many an hour after school glued to games like Aladdin or, if my grandma wasn't paying attention and I could swipe hers, Blackjack. Younger Millennials, you might call something like this an "app."
7. The Casio C-80 Calculator Watch
Two things: No. 1, wearing the Casio C-80 Calculator Watch made me feel like Inspector Gadget and, No. 2, I somehow managed to convince myself at the time that was incredibly cool. Younger Millennials didn't have these cumbersome and kind of silly armbands growing up but, hey, they are growing up in the age of comically over-sized smart-watches. So there's that.