More than a decade and a half away from the end of the 90s, we are already talking about the ‘good old days’ when technology was in moderation and you still went out to hang out with friends! It was the ‘golden era’ when smartphones were limited to uber-rich and Facebook was still on papers.
If you were in college during the 90s, social media for you probably meant handwritten notes passed to each other by back-benchers of the class. It was also the time when students were more obsessed about sex life of the US President than even the latest 17” MacBook Pro LCD screen!
Here is a list of 20 things you surely considered super-cool and simply awesome, if you were in college during the 90s:
- AOL Instant Messenger: Facebook chat and even Whatsapp is nothing compared to the AOL Instant Messenger to a 90s’ college kid. Creative aliases like BigBuckRambo were in vogue to message girls you hardly knew!
- Arcade Games: If you think ‘Call of Duty’ – the computer game based on World War II – is fabulous, you have never played blasted the aliens of Area 51 with the light gun. You also never gunned down cybernetic terrorists as a gunner in a helicopter in the Gunblade NY. The kinetic frenzy of these games almost made us forget the low-quality graphics and the glaring lack of controls!
- Catalogs you could Carry: In the 90s, choosing college courses required manual efforts. Students poured over physical course catalogs and talked to official and unofficial guides and counselors to find out what will suit them best. You also registered for courses either by phone or in person (waiting for your chance in long queues for hours)!
- College set up your First Email Address: Top colleges and universities of the world granted students their first email addresses and their parents used to set up AOL accounts so that they could communicate with their children via email.
- Common Excuses for not handing in your paper or assignment in time: ‘My printer was not working’, ‘my Floppy Disk got corrupted’, ‘I have it on Zip Disk but we don’t have a Zip Driver here’ – all used to be genuine excuses and were readily accepted by the teachers.
- Computer was Prized Possession: Computers with bulky CRT screens, a big CPU and two fat speakers were ‘neighbor’s envy, owner’s pride’. If you had a 28.8k modem, you were certainly considered lucky. Yet, everyone preferred the computers in college labs as they were much faster.
- Facebook of 90s: If your college was good, you actually got a book with photos of all the incoming freshmen, and a printed phone book with everyone’s contact numbers. You probably had the facility to call a hostel mate just by dialing his or her extension!
- Fake IDs were easier: If you had a digital camera, a printer and a laminator, you earned many friends who only wanted you to make a fake ID for them. Holograms were still not in existence at the time – thankfully.
- Macaulay Culkin: Home Alone movie series and the adorable super-kid Macaulay Culkin could score instant girlfriends – anytime, anywhere! The formula worked with every single girl.
- Movie and ad posters on the wall and VHS movie marathons: Calvein Klein ads, Pulp Fiction movie posters, star portraits in newspapers were a big craze in colleges of 90s. Bachelor pads or hostel rooms invariably meant these randy posters plastered all over the walls. Thursday nights were for watching ‘Friends’ in the common room and students picked up VHS tapes for movie nights.
- Music Connection: Brazil by Venga Boys, Barbie Girl by Aqua, Everybody Now by Backstreet Boys, Lies by Diana King, and Where do you go by No Mercy have brought more strangers together than you can imagine. If a person had a music CD you love, you would instantly strike a chord with him or her. Close friends and beloveds used make mix-tapes (with actual tapes) for each others. Mini stereo systems (with multi-disc changer) and Sony Sports Walkman (with radio) were a craze.
- Neon Colors: In the 90s, neon was the new cool! Highlighter-colored windbreakers and track suit pants were ‘in’ and so were neon-colored earrings, carry bags, bangles and accessories which would be considered garish today.
- No Smartphones: Assignments were incredibly tough in 90s as you had to pour over books in libraries for hours to get the relevant information. You also had to write letters to your school friends to keep in touch – as it had your personal touch. Answer machines were still in use as you could not carry your phones everywhere.
- Party Crashers: You actually had to search for your friends on campus and even crash parties at times – just to find them out. You could also leave messages on your friend’s dry erase board or investigate the flyers on his or her desk to see which parties he/she might have gone to.
- Phone Bill fights: In those days, roommates shared landline phones and intercoms were the most preferred method of reaching out to someone on campus. Yet, it was the monthly phone bills that used to serve as a real wedge between friends – “Who called Sherry in Oakland for 25 minutes?!”
- Privacy: College graduates of 90s realize how lucky they were to not have Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tinder, or Vine to record their selfies, texts and sexts forever and forever – with the threat of being exposed to your parents and potential employers and raising up a hell for you.
- Reading Books and Novels (Printed Versions): Steve Jobs did a brilliant job of making paper and books disappear from the lives of college students. Undergraduates in 90s still cared for the print versions of the Playboy and some of the most engaging novels. They could be found under their pillows, tucked in their undergarments and even in flush.
- Rollerblades: In 90s, rollerblades were still oh-so-cool! College kids rolling across the campus corridors became instant hear-throbs. But the era ended and rollerblades made you the victim of name-calling and mockery. Life is just half the fun without the wheels.
- Writing Notes in Class: Earlier, you did not record your professor’s lectures. You took notes in class and highlighted the important points too.
- Yellow Pages and Bulky Binders at Career Services: Finding a job through college meant going through bulky binders and job sections of newspapers. You also had to travel from one place to another appearing for interviews and presenting your resumes. Online job portals were unheard of in those days.
- Your first Webpage: Toddlers these days can make better web pages than the college kids of 90s. College servers had a pool of badly crafted basic pages made by geeks of the time.
Are there other things about the 90s that you would like to share here?