Sometimes people say things like, what did people do before the internet? Or what did we do before mobile phones? What did we do before Facebook? Often I’ll stop and think for a little while and see if I can remember. I first went on the internet in 1994 and we got it at home in 1995. I’ve spent more of my life on the net than off. My entire adult life I’ve had a mobile and the internet. So really, I don’t know what people did before these things. But I remember some things.
I remember having a rotary dial telephone. People say technology has made us impatient. I was impatient then too. I would hate dialling phone numbers with too many 8s, 9s, or 0s in them because it would take so long for the dial to get back in position. I would keep my finger in the hole and try and force it back as quickly as possible. I once found out that those phones work on electrical pulses and if you pressed the hang up button quickly it would send an electrical pulse. That meant instead of dialling a seven you could just press the hang up button seven times really quickly. It saved time but was in-accurate. When we got a tone dialling phone, everything changed.
I remember when my Dad got a mobile phone he was on Optus so I would call the Castles because Janet had a mobile phone too, which was on Optus. Between 8pm and Midnight you got free calls for 20 minutes. I would talk to Ryan and Jemma for 20 minutes hang up then call back. Partly I liked talking to Ryan and Jem, partly I just like talking on mobile phone. Dad had a blue 5110, Janet had a yellow one. They had the game Snake on them. Snake was the greatest game ever. It craps all over Angry Birds.
Before mobile phones when you went somewhere with big crowds you’d arrange a place to meet if you got lost. Sometimes if you were in a group you’d split up for an hour and meet back at a pre-arranged spot. I can’t remember that last time I did something like that.
Before mobiles if you were late to meet someone, you were just late and they stood around waiting thinking you were probably in a car crash.
Before the internet you would go to the library and read an encyclopaedia to find out information. If you read multiple encyclopaedias it was called research. Sometimes if you wanted to read an old article from a magazine you’d ask the librarian to go get it out of the stack. They would do it and you felt like you were holding the past in your hands.
When the only way to write to a person was to do it by hand and put it in the mail, I very rarely did it. I was too lazy to write a letter, fold it, find an envelope address it, find a stamp and put it in the post box. If there was no internet and my sister lived in Guatemala still, she’d never hear from me. I have no doubt she’d write me letters though. She always was less lazy in the letter writing department.
And that is about the extent of my pre-mobile, pre-internet memories. What are yours? Do you have any?