I am closing in on my 50th birthday so this is a quasi-confessional. Being a baby of the mid 1960’s I, like many of a similar age, have had a certain discussion with our kids. You know, the one that goes, “you would never recognize a rotary phone”. When you describe it to them their eyes glaze over, they tune you out, and check their cellphones. This then leads to a discussion of other old stuff like telephone party lines, 8-track cassettes, and the Yellow Pages.

It made me think about things that were once commonplace but have gone the way of the Dodo (our kids wouldn’t know about the Dodo either). Here is only a partial list:

Dial-up Internet

Do you remember the dialing up sound? How about the connection sound…it was nearly orgasmic. Do you remember how patient we were to visit the seven websites that existed back then? How about when a photo took ten minutes to load? Talk about delayed gratification.

Renting and rewinding VHS tapes

If I had rewound all my rented VHS tapes and avoided the rewind fee at the video store then invested that money in Blockbuster and then Netflix, I would not be blogging right now.


Floppy Discs

USBs are awesome and hold a lot. I loved floppy disks that were bigger but held a lot less and had a weird name.

TV Guides

There is the famous TV Guide that you subscribed to and there were the printed supplements that appeared in every newspaper for free. They were accessed as frequently as Netflix is today. Nothing has changed really.

Asking for Directions

Damn the technology that allows us to avoid all human contact. Whatever happened to stopping and talking with someone, “Hey, hi! Can you tell me where the third largest ball of twine is?”

Album & Book Art

The real estate of an LP was an amazing canvass. Album cover design was damn important (how about the zipper on that Stones’ cover?). CDs shrunk that canvas and digital downloads have basically erased the visual. Don’t get me going on book covers and the Kindle. I now forget the title of the book I am reading because the print copy is not reminding me every time I pick it up.


The Effort of Photos

You had a real camera. You bought real film. You carefully orchestrated the photos you shot. You took the film in to be developed. You waited days. You paid a bunch of money. Less than half your photos turned out. You were ecstatic.

A Sign of Romance

As part of my cathartic disclosure, I must admit to making a ton of mix tapes for my love interests. They were epic sagas. I called upon Split Enz, DEVO, Tears for Fears and ABC to profess my lust and love for that month’s desire (lust and love were always confused). Once in awhile the mixed tape even worked.


The Fax Machine

I still believe this is the most amazing invention ever. One page is swept into a machine and it magically goes across a phone line and prints out an exact duplicate of the original. You knew you were important when someone said, “You got a fax.”

These are just a few of things anyone born after 1990 would not get. There are so many more. I have failed to mention that yellow thing that went in the middle of the 45rpm record so you could play it, Saturday morning cartoons, mood rings, laser disks, prank phone calls, paper maps, Princess Leia-sized headphones, cash registers that went “ching” after a sale, handwritten letters, AOL, physically getting up to change the channel, catalogues, answering machines, White-Out, using a pencil to tighten a cassette tape, Alta Vista, and encyclopedias.

Things come and go. The good news is, if our kids need to know about these artifacts they can just Google them from their mobile device and 3D print them for fun.