23 Things We Loved About '90s Computers, from Oregon Trail to Encarta 95
I know I say this every time a new one of those “Kids React” videos pops up, but it's true: When you step back for a moment, it’s really rather remarkable how far technology has come in the handful of decades we’ve had regular access to it. Who knew that one day, the processing power of those giant, hulking machines we called computers in our childhood would pale in comparison to the tiny little portable devices known as smartphones that we carry in our pockets now? I mean, earlier this week, we got wind of the fact that even though the iPhone 6 isn’t official yet, a 24-carat gold version of it is. It’s a little bit nuts, am I right? It’s only going to be so long before we have Minority Report-style displays and interactive holograms. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, but the future really is now. Or something.
Although I’ll admit I still occasionally worry about the robot apocalypse, generally I’m glad computers have gotten so advanced. That said, though, old-school computers had a lot of quirks that I look back on with fondness. From the very first time my dad sat down to play a video game with me (the text adventure Zork) to the unforgettable sounds of dial-up Internet, goofy-looking ‘90s technology was a huge part of my childhood. Does anyone else secretly kind of miss these 23 things about ‘80s and ‘90s computers?
1. Folding the scrap edges of dot matrix printer paper into little springs
2. Oregon Trail
No matter how many times you tried to ford the river but your oxen died, it was always a blast.
3. The sweet sound of dial-up
It should be noted, though, that the excitement built up while your computer laboriously connected to the interwebs was only beaten by…
4. The dulcet tones of the AOL “You’ve got mail!” announcement
I do??? Yessssssssss!
5. The joys of choosing your first screen name
It was probably embarrassing. And you thought it was the best. Name. Ever. Here, see this list of Bustle staffer's original screen names for evidence.
6. Learning to touch type with Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
7. Or, alternatively, Mario Teaches Typing
8. Even though you probably only learned to type super fast once you discovered chat rooms
To this day, I don’t use the appropriate fingers, even though I can type approximately 80 words per minute. The only reason I can do that is because of the Internet.
9. Class excursions to the school computer lab
Computer class never felt like class — which, of course, was always the best kind of class.
10. Floppy disks
The ones that were actually floppy.
11. And that satisfying click sound they made when you stuck them into your disk drive
12. Kid Pix
The source of all our artistic aspirations.
13. Weird-ass screensavers
The Windows maze … the pipes … those wacky flying toasters from the After Dark set… they were all intensely bizarre. But I dare anyone to come forward and say they never once sat around, not touching their computer, just waiting for the screensaver to go off so they could get lost in its strange, abstract depths.
14. The way the white casings of everything slowly yellowed with time
A computer that looked like this was the mark of a well-loved machine.
15. Learning how to manually install programs
Who needs install wizards? Nothing made you feel quite as much of a tech-savvy badass as being able to type in the commands needed to install a game purely from memory.
16. Being totally addicted to Myst, even though you had no idea what was actually going on in the game
17. And the roller coaster-style methods of transportation in its sequel, Riven
18. Spending hours with Encarta 95
it was way more reliable than Wikipedia. Also, Mind Maze.
19. Wasting disgusting amounts of time listening to MIDI versions of your favorite songs
Why was it so enthralling? No idea. But it definitely, definitely was.
20. Dark green screen. Bright green text.
21. Getting stupidly frustrated with Minesweeper
And yet never being able to stop playing anyway.
22. Winning a game of Solitaire
Sure, you could always just play Solitaire with an actual pack of cards — but real life playing cards don’t do this when you win.
23. And, of course: Pinball!
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