90s, Books, Quick Lists, Tech — November 13, 2013 1:12 pm

7 Things We Didn’t Know Were Annoying At The Time

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Imagine a world filled with waiting and cables and getting out of chairs to learn information.  It was this strange place called the past and we invented a few devices to make tasks easier.

Not only did we not realize how annoying life was at the time, we actually thought we were living life in the fast lane of convenience!  Oh, how wrong we were.  How wrong.  We were.

Here are seven things we didn’t know were annoying at the time…

7 – 56K Download Speeds


Some modems had a headphone jack in case you wanted to hear the dial-up screech in stereo… now, that’s convenience!

Around the dawn of Y2K, it only took six hours to download one song (…legally)!  It was way more convenient to tie up a phone line for an entire afternoon than it was to hop to the mall and waste time unwrapping a CD.  56K was predicted to be as fast as dial-up could ever get, so I went all out and got the best modem I could.  Nope, dial-up was never going to get any faster!  Well, they were right.  Dial-up never got any better.  Who knew they’d soon give up on improving dial-up and come out with DSL, cable modems, T1 lines, and 4G?  D’oh!

6 – Texting With a Number Pad


I don’t even remember how to do this without a keyboard.

Remember when your phone didn’t have a keyboard and you had to press number keys to send a text message?  If you don’t appreciate the luxury you have on your new Android phone, let me refresh your memory.  Saying “Hello” took the following keystrokes: 44 33 555 555 666.  It seemed so convenient at the time…

5 – Spelling with a Dictionary


My household always had the offbrand dictionaries, so I’d fail speeling tezts.

If you really wanted to proof-read something back in the day, you really had to proof-read a lot!  A 1,000 word college term paper would cost you at least two hours of spell checking time.  But, hey, at least all the words were located in one handy book known as the dictionary!  Sorry, dictionary, you’ve pretty much been replaced by a squiggly red underline when it comes to spell checking.

4 – VHS Rewinding Machines


It at least looked like something from the future.

Let’s face it, rewinding a tape was always irritating.  Enough so, that if you forgot to do it yourself, the video store would charge an entire two dollars for the inconvenience!  That’s when a handy invention caught the nation by storm: a cheap machine designed just for rewinding tapes.  It didn’t play tapes, it didn’t fast forward tapes, it didn’t erase tapes, it just re-winded them.  Brilliant!  Even more convenient is that most video stores sold these rewinding machines over the counter.  I hope the person that patented that idea was smart enough to save their money because it was a useless product the second DVD rentals came along.

3 – Using Cords


For some reason, the term “Plug and Play” always made me think of something else…

“Plug and play” was initially an amazing concept!  Just plug in the cord and go.  Nowadays, people frown and avoid products that require cables.  Some people spend extra money for a wireless printer that sits three inches away from their computer.  I guess that’s the price you pay for… well, less of a convenience, really, in this case.

2 – Multi-player Handheld Gaming

This giant accessory made it easy to play with three more friends!

It’s pretty easy to swing a round of Words with Friends on your phone, playing anyone from around the world with a few easy taps of the touch screen.  Back in the early 90s, if you wanted to play your friends at Gameboy Tetris, you better not have lost the multiplayer cable.  It was barely long enough to let you sit in separate chairs.  Despite this, it was a thrill to go head to head in Dr. Mario!

Worse still was trying to find the multiplayer cable for Game Gear for sale.  After years of searching, I finally found one… in 2001.  By that point, I was pretty much playing solo.

1 – The Encyclopedia

Note the irony of walking away from a computer to use a book.

My house was a hotspot whenever term papers were due.  Once the entire neighborhood caught wind that we owned all fifty volumes of an Encyclopedia, our bookshelf became a public library.  Needed to know more about the 14th president?  Driving to the library would take at least twenty minutes, but it was only a two minute walk to my house.  Talk about convenience!  Now, just Google any random topic and one of the first results is bound to be a Wikipedia entry.  My, how the times have changed.

encyclopediagoogle01Indeed, how the times have changed.

Did we miss some of your favorite annoying things?  Tell us about it in the comments below!


  • This list is spot on though I am ashamed to say I still use a dumb phone and text via number key. Weep for me.

  • Nailed it. I still have dictionaries sitting on my bookshelf. I just feel bad throwing them away. Ugh, and those Encyclopedias. My grandma had the White cover Encyclopedia Britannica versions. And the rewinding machines – I remember someone told me constant rewinding ruined the ‘heads’ in the VCR – and that’s why they made those. But that could be as true as Mikey dying from eating pop rocks and soda.

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