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?
I never forget using the Microfische at the library. Put the transparent slide in upside down and back to front, flip it around but it is still the wrong way. Never really knew what I was looking at or why but it was fun for a few seconds.
I don’t remember but i reckon I probably stood around a lot wondering if you were in a car crash….late again.
I remember using DOS and having to type commands to get ‘test drive’ to open. What a car racing game it was, it’s graphics had 3 colours!!!!
I remember rising my bike everywhere!!! I’d ride all day to visit people, return VHS’s borrowed from the video store several suburbs away, ride to the hospital to bisit sick relatives etc etc.
I remember my mum sewed a little padded bag for me to keep my walkman in
I spoke to my dad on Skype yesterday, it was his first time. He was pretty excited about been able to see someone in Peru. I guess I have gotton over it all now as I have done it so often but it is pretty great. I got to thinking about when we used to say “one day you’ll be able to see people when you talk to them on the phone”. Now that one day has happened although it’s on the comp. I also got to thinking about last time I was here pre-Skype days and how much less I spoke to my family. I am very grateful.
Tom, are my comments getting though? I post them, and they seem to disappear into the ether …
They seem to be getting through. At least this one did and others have come through. Are there any missing?
The original version of the comment below.
I’d like to say I remember my typing and spelling being better, but……
Pre mobile phone and internet memories:
When home phone numbers were 6 digits
When the ‘9’ was added.
When “research” consisted of checking the World Book Encyclopedia
Other tech related memories:
Buying 45″ singles, 33″ albums, and 33″ extended long play albums.
Cassette tapes and making your own mix-tape.
When you could buy singles and albums on cassette.
The Sony Walkman my brother bought back from Japan for me – which I still have.
When facsimile machines came along.
VHS and Beta video tapes – and U-matic tapes at Uni.
The introduction of CDs and DVDs.
My first PC – a 386SX
The all-in-one radiogram we used to have in the loungeroom at home – record player (including 78rpm), B&W TV, and SW/LW radio. It even had all the frequencies marked, including regional stations.
When our family upgraded from B&W tv to colour – the tiny Pye model kept in the kitchen.
Inhaling the “vegemite” fumes from school handouts (in purple ink only) fresh from the Roneo mimeograph, pre-photocopier era.
When Liquid Paper was invented. More inhaling of fumes.
The introduction of microwaves and microwave popcorn.
Without the internet I am not sure if I would have gone to Guatemala. I would never have found out about IJM! I would still write you letters though.
I have such a bad memory. I can’t remember most things before technology. But I do remember talking on the home phone alot. And knowing the home phone number of all my school friends. And I remember getting our e-mail (doorkey) and how exciting it was getting e-mails. And chatting what was that chat that we had, at the beginning of the internet years. I used to chat with a boy I had a crush on from Alice Springs.