Long distance calling? Remember when calling another state cost extra? Or even another area code? Imagine picking up your cell phone today and thinking, “Gotta keep this short—it’s long distance.” Instead, it’s now, “Gotta keep this short—or call back after 9 when my minutes are free!” Unless of course the call is international; then that really is long-distance….
Card catalogues? And not the online ones, either—the kind that used thousands of indexed-size cards all lined up in long narrow drawers along library walls. You would page through alphabetically until you came upon the author’s last name of the book you wanted . . . or didn’t, and had to ask the librarian.
VHS? Remember walking down to a Blockbuster to rent a movie? Remember them not having the one you wanted? Or any of the ones you wanted? Remember when the previous renter didn’t rewind the movie you finally ended up renting and having to wait while it whirred backwards in your video cassette player? Sometimes you finished half your popcorn by the time the movie was ready!
Then, trying to skip the previews was nearly impossible, because usually you’d go too far and have skipped past the beginning of the movie. Then, there would be a fight over the remote control, because someone would be convinced they could do it better. . . . Now, with DVDs, all we have to fight over is what to order next on Netflix.
Search engines before Google? Yahoo! might still be known in some circles, but does anyone remember AskJeeves or Altavist? What about Lycos, InfoSeek, Dogpile, or Netscape? Does anyone even consider searching anything but Google anymore? And would they still say they “googled” it even if they “yahooed” it?
Dial-up internet? Forget smartphones or even WiFi. This was the era of don’t-pick-up-the-phone-or-you’ll-knock-someone-off-the-internet and, if-you-pick-up-the-phone-while-someone-is-connecting, you’ll-get-an-earful-of-“screeeechhh!beeep!scheglamphmlbigphlpl!beep!”
And most of all, does anyone remember a time before the internet?! It’s a wonder we were able to survive. We had to use real maps to get anywhere! We used the telephone to make reservations and appointments! We looked up numbers and addresses in…the yellowpages! (Can you believe they still print those?) And we sent mail via the Postal Service! Just think if you had to wait three days to receive your e-mail. . . .