Like most things about the '90s, computers during that revered decade tend to be romanticized. It's understandable, too, since home computers and internet capabilities were only just beginning to blossom. Make no mistake, though — looking back with a critical eye at '90s computer trends will make you grateful for just how far technology has come. Long gone are the days of the gargantuan desktop computers with blocky screens and green type, and thank goodness for that.
Did the '90s gift us with some computer trends that truly are worth our nostalgia? Sure. How could we not have loved every second of Oregon Trail or taking our sweet time choosing the perfect screen name for AIM? There were highs, yes, but there were just as many lows. Granted, we have to take these computer "cons" in context — computer technology was basically a big digital baby. It hadn't yet grown into its true potential, which we are now experiencing. Modern times have proven to be a heyday for computer technology. Considering how much advancement we've seen over the last 30 years or so, can you imagine what the future holds?
So in the spirit of appreciating just how far we've come, let's revisit some of the computer trends from the '90s that were, in a word, awful.
1Strangely Convoluted Screensavers
It can't just be me who was struck by the strangeness of '90s screensavers, right? Remember the flying toasters? WTF was that?!
2Manually Installing Programs
Praise the technology gods we now live in a time when computer programs practically install themselves. If we're really being honest, not a one of us really ever knew what we were doing when we had to manually install programs back in the '90s.
3Glowing Green Text
I distinctly remember sitting in computer lab in middle school, staring at the harsh green glow of text against a jarring black backdrop and thinking, "Man, I wish they would change this." Apparently ask and ye shall receive!
4The "You've Got Mail!" Announcement
Admittedly, this trend proved to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, who didn't love sitting among friends and hearing that oh-so coveted declaration that you did, indeed, have mail? I'll tell you who — whoever didn't have any mail. It's all fun and games until you're the only one not hearing the sweet sounds of "You've got mail!"
5Saving Everything to Floppy Disks
And I mean everything. Homework, pictures, terrible poetry you wrote and thought at the time was alarmingly profound (and by "you," I clearly mean me). The advent of flash drives, discs, and even secure online file storage has made saving important info a million times more convenient.
Here's the thing: You can't really bash Windows 95 too much, because at the time there was literally nothing else like it — it quickly became the most popular operating system created when it was introduced. However, knowing what we know now (aka having had the benefit of many years of more advanced operating systems), it's easy to see how simplistic Microsoft 95 was in reality. Thank goodness for Windows 10, right?
Ah, Kid Pix! You made our childhoods so much more colorful. Alas, and don't take this the wrong way, but you're just so... basic.
8"Free" Internet Mailers
This may have been the most annoying computer-related trend of the '90s — having your mailbox bombarded with CDs promising free internet hours. Not only did you wind up with about 100 random discs to get rid of, but you also found out the hard way that there's no such thing as free internet.
Confession: I geeked out over Encarta '95. This digital encyclopedia for Microsoft made me feel like an archaeologist of knowledge, constantly digging for more information. But you know what? Looking back now, I can see how it could be considered cumbersome — especially in light of the fact that we can now just plug a question into a search engine, and voila!
Raise your hand if you could blow an entire afternoon playing this now-hilariously simple game in which you had to ski own a mountain slope avoiding obstacles — including the memorable Abominable snowman.
You can't very well have a list of outdated '90s computer technology without including the telltale sounds of dial-up internet, can you? If ever you start to take modern technology for granted, give this a listen.