From Caller ID, to microwaves, GPS and pocket calculator, people born before the year 2000 share their most shocking moment when technology advanced.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
Honestly, the thought of having your whole teen stage of your life posted all over the Internet forever. Oh man, glad I just missed all that.
The fact that the cell phone had internet. I would accidentally hit “up” on my LG Chocolate or the Envy 2 and frantically hit “END” 50 times because I knew my dad would come to me saying “why are you using the internet on the phone!!!” It was strange when it became mainstream.
I remember seeing all this futuristic technology like touch screens and electric cars in movies as a kid, and thinking ‘Not any time soon.’ Now, they’re the norm and I still don’t quite understand how.
My first iPod. I had had cassette players and toted around CD players, worrying about them skipping while I walked. Then I get this square thing that I insert nothing into and can hold more than 15 songs…
It’s still one of my favorite gifts I’ve been given.
I still forget I have a tiny computer in my pocket with access to absolutely any information I could ever need. I still remember arguing with a kid about something in class in 11th grade and having to send someone to the library to Google it.
I was born in 1995. As a kid we were always taught to be careful about revealing any personal information online. Now it’s normal to post one’s entire life online for everyone to see. That’s the biggest, shocking moment for me.
Streaming music services like Spotify. I have killed for something like the free tier of Spotify when I was a kid!
Music on the internet (probably starting with the first legal ways to get music online, like the iTunes Store) had the lovely side effect of killing the $25 CD, so that was a bonus.
When my dad got a Bell Atlantic Caller ID. It BLEW my mind. The concept of knowing and seeing the name of the person calling your house was insane.
Our first microwave. No more arguments because dad’s soup wasn’t hot enough? No problem! Want a warm cookie and hot chocolate? No problem. Want popcorn for a tv movie that starts in 5 minutes? No problem.
It was awesome. I wasn’t allowed to use the stove when I was home alone until about age 10 but I could still have a hotdog or cocoa or leftovers before that due to the miracle box on the counter.
Born in 1979 in the Netherlands. One thing that really changed life was the arrival of ATM machines and payment terminals in stores. Before that you actually had to go to the bank to get money. There were long waiting lines, especially on Fridays.
I hated having to print out directions from MapQuest. Miss your exit/street with MQ? Have fun figuring it out. Miss your turn with GPS? Recalculating…”
Wifi. So the internet is just flying through the air? Mind blown.
More so than wifi, was the 1st generation iPhone. Steve Jobs blew my mind with things that we now take for granted. Watch as he introduces this revolutionary “iPod + phone + internet communicator” with a “really big 3.5 inch screen.” He literally has to explain to the public how a touchscreen can work with your finger. At the time, it was every feature you wanted, all the features you couldn’t have imagined in your wildest dreams, all in one device.
The biggest change I remember is no longer relying upon a landline to talk to your friends – first because it was the only way for a while and then because it was needed to connect to the dial-up.
I can’t remember how many times I’d be forced off the phone because my dad wanted to check his email.
Born in 1966.
For me, it was the really early internet, circa ’95. Had a girlfriend studying in England and having “live” chats with her via text was amazing.
After that, witnessing HDTV for the first time ever at a high-end electronics store.
The pocket calculator was a pretty big one.
They had landed men on the moon before we had that amazing tool. If you needed to know how many times 3.4 goes into 866, you had to figure it out on paper or in your head.
Two things for me personally:
The overnight transition from dumb to smart phones
Augmented reality with games such as Pokemon Go. Not because it’s technically impressive, but because at that point, I knew without ANY doubt that games had fully been embraced by the general public, like radio and TV before. AR showed me that everyone was a potential gamer. Even the Wii, which appealed to a specific brand of boomers among other populations, was not as powerful of an indicator.
Suddenly it became so extremely easy to find out whatever you wanted. I remember when it came out there was a small report in our local newspaper treating it like some obscure niche site.
When touch screens were in everything… That was some Sci-fi stuff… We could touch the content… And move it and everything… I was genuinely amazed for months…
Specifically the original NES. Going from clunky and repetitive Atari games to those first seconds of “feeling” the speed and power of how Mario ran and jumped was like “WHOA GUYS, we got something here!” Then playstation dropped Metal Gear Solid on our heads with a single player campaign of cinematic cut scenes and everyone was like ” WHOA GUYS, the characters have faces and freaking talk to me!” Loved every minute of those days.
Back in the day, if you couldn’t remember an actors name, or who won the Super Bowl 4 years ago, or whatever, you had to hope to either remember it or go to a library.
Now we just pull a supercomputer out of our pocket and the lady inside answers the question for us.
When I realized I could just download any album I wanted whenever I wanted with incredible ease did it for me. That’s still pretty awesome to me actually. A 45 minute album takes a month of numerous people recording and tracking and mixing and mastering and I can download all of that work in like 60 seconds.
Born in 1985, graduated high school in 2003. Honestly, YouTube was a game changer. But I think the biggest “woah!” kind of thing is the ubiquitous nature of social media. In 2003, to the extent that social media existed (MySpace hit the scene right as I got out of high school) it was not that broad in everyday life at all. And going back to my late 90s middle school years, it was nowhere. I really am curious to see how people who had social media in middle school and high school grow up to be well into their 30s and 40s.
Bottled water, when it first started becoming popular, it amazed me that people would pay for water. Of course I was a kid and knew only that free water came magically from the faucet. This was also a time when public drinking fountains not only existed but were very common everywhere.
Watching memory cards get smaller, and hold more and more data.
My first mp3 player was the size of a deck of cards, and the on-board memory was 32MB. With a SmartMedia card it could hold up to a whopping 128MB. If I wanted it to hold more than a handful of songs, I’d have to copy and covert them down to a bitrate comparable to listening to them via shortwave radio from a different planet…
The SmartMedia cards were ridiculously expensive before they were phased out.
The Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 – I just happened to be online, and it is the first thing I remember unfolding in real time on the internet.
The first time I remember seeing loads of cell phone coverage of a disaster, watching something awful happen across the world as it was happening. And the BBC website was especially fascinating, they had set up a system similar to the way Facebook lets you check in safe during a local crisis now – but it was the first time I’d ever seen it. They offered a space for people to look for relatives, share updates and check in because the phone lines were all down. You could refresh and see people desperately trying to reach people, and accounts of survival and video interviews – every time you hit F5 something new. And the death count ticked up with each refresh.
It was just really sobering to sit there safe at my house and just… observe people’s world’s fall apart. It was also so different and modern compared to 9/11 coverage only a few years before.
I remember the SMS/text message feature on my Nokia brick phone seeming stupid and unnecessary. I’m not sure I even thought it would work. It seems like it started as my buddy’s texting each other as a joke and then six months later was this enormous thing.
I can think of 2 distinct moments.
The first was when I was doing my masters, and one of the profs held a meeting to demonstrate this new thing called the World Wide Web. We were of course using the Internet on a daily basis, but the web was something else altogether. At the time there were only a few dozen publicly accessible websites, but I remember thinking “Whoa! this is going to be huge,” and immediately went to write my own website.
The second was when a buddy at work told me to check out a specific network drive at work. It contained hundreds of .mp3 files, an extension I had never seen before. He told me to copy what was there, and rip my own CDs and upload them to the same drive. The very first mp3 I played was Head Like a Hole, so I was introduced to file sharing and Nine Inch Nails at the same time.
When I was about 8 or 9, I had been roped into a ‘late’ night run to the store. My favorite show was coming on (Diff’rent Strokes) and I didn’t want to miss it, I pleaded for my Dad use his 8mm camera to record it so I could watch it later. He wouldn’t, I missed the show and went on with my life.
A few years later, we got a VCR and thus began my love of time-shifting and commercial skipping.
We didn’t just select a show out of a line-up of shows and click on them, oh no, you had to know when it was on, manually set the on and off times (using horribly designed menus and remotes) and, IIRC, make sure the VCR was tuned to the correct channel before leaving the house.
People messing with the setup, schedule changes, programming delays, and forgetting to change or rewind the tape all resulted in this working only about half the time. Even then, it was still better than having to be in front of the set at a certain time and having to slog through the endless cavalcade of commercials.
My mom is from Belgium, and would schedule times to call home to talk to my grandma. They had to keep it brief since long distance was so pricy. I remember talking to her on the phone and it just sounded like she was in another world with the slight cracking in the line (and flanders always seemed like the shire to me.) Then there was Skype. We couldn’t believe that our 80 flemish grandma was right there talking to all of us, it was like sci-fi. Now my grandma is almost 90 and they Facetime every day.