The 70s through 90s were the segway into many technological and social changes in the world. Let’s have a little look at some everyday things we had and did that have either gone by the wayside with BermaShave signs or morphed into a whole new frontier in this early part of the 21st century.
1. Going to the airline gate to send off or meet friends and family- this went by the wayside after the September 11th attacks when it became necessary to have an actual ticket to make it to the gate.
2. Assuming a backpack left behind belonged to a student and not a terrorist.
3. Licking and tearing off perforated postage stamps– self stick stamps that peeled off their sheets like stickers fast replaced the old and somewhat fragile lickables and transitioned us into online postage.
4. Licking envelopes– though envelopes got a bad rap when anthrax was spread via envelopes, self-stick mailers with peel off strips were well on their way into office supply stores and online billing has been trying to phase those out too.
5. AM radio– still around but no longer music only. Talk radio became the norm on AM in the 80s and eventually Satellite and online stations started crowding AM into the way of shortwave radios.
6. Answering machines– or answerphones. Before answering machines it was assumed if you didn’t pick up your phone you weren’t home. These electronically voiced gadgets allowed you to listen to your Aunt Marge asking if you were there over the air and then pretend not to be. Caller ID and voicemail have allowed us all to pretend we barely even exist to all but the most trusted of contacts but Facebook updates still undermine us all since Aunt Marge is likely reading them.
7. Collect calling– by the time I was in late high school one could make a long distance call on a pay phone with a credit card, which was totally surreal but before that I recall my parents explaining how to do this in case I ever got lost and following with “now, never do it” because of the expense!
8. Winding cassette tapes up with a pen– you played your favourite mix tape so much that the tape itself started to wear through and you either listened to the funky sounds playing through from side B or had to wind up the tape eaten by the cassette deck to do it all over again.
9. B Sides – until CDs dawned, music singles came with less popular B side tracks on either the other side of the LP or cassette. These continued with CD singles for a time and then were replaced by ‘secret tracks’ you could access by either holding down certain buttons on a CD player or playing it backwards and then MP3s. MP3s took a lot of fun out of music. Paul is dead.
10. Speaking of Paul, we all knew what Paul is dead meant.
11. Be All that You Can Be in the Army– everyone sang along with that slogan. And some sang along out loud.
12. Wrestling in your living room – I’m sure little boys and girls over the U.S. still do this but gone are the days of Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan.
13. Hitchhiking– while never considered safe per se, it was a lot more widely practised.
14. Losing the date card in a library book- Date cards are still used and when I worked in a large library system in the late 90s early 2000s we were still stamping those little cards by the thousands. But when we were kids and you lost the card you got fined- no longer a problem with automated checkout.
15. Punching in at work – still done but with swipe cards for the most part. I’m talking about a paper punch card run through a machine on the wall. Or just tallying up your hours by hand on a time card. Which I currently still do…
16. Knowing who Ma Bell was
17. Crying over AT&T commercials
18. S&H Green Stamps – saving them up to get sheets and dishes.
19. Going to the arcade with a bag of quarters
20. Having birthday parties at roller rinks.
21. Going to the Ice Capades.
22. Racing to the video rental place to get the one and only copy of Indiana Jones and missing it only to wait 6 more weeks until it made it back to the shelf because your timing was so crappy.
23. Speaking of videos, opening up your VCR door and pulling the cassette out to find ALL of the tape permanently wound up in the machine.
24. Phone booths– standing outside them looking for trouble, shutting the bullies out of them and actually making calls in them.
25. Taking a telephone message – you know, with paper and pencil.
26. Mercury thermometers– actually thinking if your fever was high enough the end might blow off and kill you with mercury exposure.
27. Phonebooks – letting your fingers do the walking and sitting on them in the car so the seat belt didn’t decapitate you.
28. Rolling change– while still done, you cant get the wrappers as easily and keeping those big pickle jars full of family change is quickly disappearing.
29. Watching commercials – you couldnt fast forward them and around the holidays you actually kinda liked them cos then you knew what to ask Santa for.
30. Blowing into game cartridges like Nintendo, Atari, Coleco, etc to get them to connect in the console.
31. Cheating at Rubix cubes –taking the stickers off and putting them back on in the right order.
32. Getting your Book-It PizzaHut personal pan pizza.
33. Popping a quarter in the jukebox.
34. Putting a penny on square novelty records so they’d stay stable enough to play.
35. Eating with your whole family at the table for every meal. And taking the phone off the hook while doing it.
36. Listening in to your big brother’s or sister’s phone conversation before portable phones.
37. Watching scrambled channels– my grandparents didn’t subscribe to HBO but they had a downstairs TV I would turn to that channel and listen to the audio, which sounds a lot more racy than it is.
38. Collecting church seal stickers for Sunday School attendance and licking them to paste into attending books.
39. Watching MTV at a friend’s house and lying to your parents about it.
40. Laying away Christmas toys at KMart, Hills or Jamesway.
41. Not having a credit card.
42. Rolling down the car windows, not locking the doors.
43. Using a hotel key instead of a swipe card and locking yourself out in the middle of the night.
44. Getting an ice cold glass bottle of soda from a vending machine.
45. Looking up information for school reports on Microfilm or Microfiche at the library.
46. Looking up information for school reports in your grandmother’s Encyclopedia Brittanica set.
47. Looking up ‘health’ stuff in the school library stacks. Yeah, we’ll call it for the purpose of one’s ‘health.’
48. Having to get your parents’ permission to attend sex education in school.
49. Handwritten report cards.
50. Getting lost with a map before Satnavs.
51. Making mixed tapes for your sweetheart.
52. Fixing your clothes with sewing, patches or darning instead of replacing.
53. Going to the mall BEDAZZLED.
54. Feeling more open to handing over a kidney than your social security number.
55. Checking the milk carton for kidnapped kids.
56. Smoking in restaurants and hospitals.
57. Sniffing White-out, casually of course, when it was still called White-out.
58. Cutting the heck out of your fingers on the metal ring of those little Del Monte / Hunt’s pudding cups
59. Flapping polaroid photos to develop them
60. Picking up your pictures at a FotoHut
61. Carrying cash, writing checques for everything
62. Meeting someone at a bar for a blind date without a Facebook check
63. Calling the Operator for information before Google
64. Cable. The beginning of cable, subscribing to cable, watching free previews of cable channels, paying subscriptions for individual channels and the endless subscription drives during the free previews (I’m looking at you, Disney Channel).
65. Paying $2.00 a minute to talk to a recording of your favourite cartoon character reading a story (He-Man and She-Ra were always hawking this stuff) with your parents’ permission of course. Part of the per minute fee went to some charity nobody ever knew about.
66. Before cow-tipping and knocking over ATMs with a truck, going out with your friends in high school and tipping over the Fotomat. Particularly with some poor kid working it as an afterschool job.
67. The busy signal on a telephone. Rotary dialing. ‘Portable” phones the size of a bowling ball.
68. Memorizing all the songs on those Time-Life infomercials and then being totally disappointed when the you found out those were 20 different records spliced together. What? I have to buy an entire album? Why hasn’t anyone thought of selling just the song I like!
69. TV Announcers- some guy announced the next show or next few shows during the credits of whatever you were watching at the time (“After these messages, we’ll be right back!”). Now this scrolls at the bottom of the screen or the next programming block is shown on a static screen.
70. Birthday Announcements on-air: back to the live tv announcer- if you wrote in to some stations they’d read your birthday out over the credits inbetween shows.
71. Fast -Food promotions: Monopoly at McDonald’s (still around but not quite the same), Burger King’s Easy Street Campaign,
72. Sending away for mail-in premiums with Kool-Aid points, My Little Pony Horseshoe Points, Strawberry Shortcake Berry Points, etc.
73. Taking Typing Class in school. PLaying around on your mother’s electric typewriter. That sound like gunfire when said electric typewriter ran the correction reel. Giving up quick when trying to thread a new ink ribbon in a typwriter.
74. Thinking the DOS smiley face was the most advanced graphic you’d ever seen and ever would see.