It cannot be denied that over the last 20 years times have drastically changed but for those of us born before the late 1990s it’s safe to say that today we are living in a completely different world. Not only has time changed, but with technology and information, even the rate of change has changed. Information brings knowledge and knowledge drives the rate of change. If you grew up in the decades of the 70s – 90s you would know these were very interesting times to be alive. Some of the things that made these decades special have come full circle but due to the different time and space that we’re in, many may never make a full comeback. If you grew up in these decades or if you’re from a younger generation, you might be interested in looking back with me to see some of the things that made these decades so interesting, that we might never see popular again.
01 – Public Pay Phones
Pay phones have been around since 1889 but by 2016 with the proliferation of smart phones they were practically rendered non-existent. For some of the younger folks, a public pay phone could just as well be the same as a relic from the dark ages. But I can still remember when these, admittedly unsanitary and often times unreliable devices were our only means of communication within the public space. Oh, what an ordeal it was when we found ourselves short of the coins needed to use the pay phones. In those instances, we were forced into stores and newspaper stands to make unwanted purchases just to make change. It was also not uncommon to find ourselves on lines waiting for our turn to use the pay phone to make an urgent call.
02 – The Floppy Discs
There was a time when these little cartridges were at the core of the existence of any employee who used a computer for work, especially during the period before laptops. They were small and portable and conveniently allowed one to transfer data from one computer to another. They were at the height of their popularity in the 1990’s until they were rendered almost obsolete by CDs, flash drives and hard drives. They still exist today, but with technology, I doubt they will ever make a great comeback.
03 – Leg Warmers
As someone who wasn’t born in the U.S. I never understood this one, but leg warmers were quite popular thanks to movies like Flash Dance and Fame. Initially worn by dancers, they became somewhat of a fashion trend in the 1980s. However, by the time I arrived here in 1985 they were already on their way out.
04 – The Boom Box
Boomboxes blasted their way onto the music scene in the late 1970s – 1980’s. They were a portable stereo system that was capable of playing radio stations or recorded music at relatively high volumes and without connections to direct power since they could also be strictly battery operated. They were the main ingredient for any impromptu block party or rap session and back in the days it was not uncommon to see teenagers and young adults walking around with boomboxes hoisted on their shoulders while blasting out the latest tunes.
05 – Bubble Gum
What ever happened to the bubble gum? I remember in the 90’s the bubble gum was inevitably linked with youth especially for teenagers perceived as being cool. It seemed everyone, the young and the not so young, could be seen chewing gum and annoyingly blowing and popping bubbles. Today, not so much, in fact except for small kids, chewing bubble gum these days is no longer a thing. I guess one could say that the “bubble has burst” on the bubble gum.
06 – The Polaroid Camera
Now who remembers when we always had to make a trip to the store to buy a roll of film for our cameras. Back then there definitely was no indiscriminate taking of pictures as we do now because one, those film were limited and two, buying more could be very expensive. When taking pictures, there were no previews, no retakes, no different angles, and definitely no editing. What the camera saw was what we got, and we weren’t seeing what that camera saw until we picked up our pictures from the store, we previously dropped them off to be developed a week or two before. There were also those times when we finally got them back where we realized the camera actually “saw” nothing at all.
07 – My Space
From 2005 to 2009, Myspace was the largest social networking site in the world. Then it was later surpassed beginning in mid 2009 by other mediums such as Facebook and Instagram. I have to admit I have never used or even seen a My Space site. It was here and gone before I even got hip to it, and I wonder does anyone even use it anymore?
08 – Graffiti
If you’re from New York City, you will appreciate this one. There was a time in the mid-1970s before I even came to this country, when the trains were completely covered in spray paintings or “graffiti”. Then in 1972 John Lindsey, the then mayor of New York, declared war on graffiti. By the 1980s it became much harder to write on subway trains without being caught and graffiti artists were forced into the streets to use roofs and buildings as their canvases. Graffiti is linked to hip-hop along with emceeing, DJing, and B-Boxing. The origins of all of these can be traced to the Bronx, right here in New York City. The emergence of hip-hop in mainstream culture during the 80s exposed graffiti to the world and it began showing up everywhere.
Today, as the world keeps on changing at an alarmingly even faster rate, it will be interesting to see where we are 20 years from now!