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#1
Old 04-24-2014, 08:52 PM
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What was life in the 1990s like?

I would like to know from you guys. What was life like back in the 1990s? What do you remember from it? Obviously I was too young to remember the 90s.
#2
Old 04-24-2014, 08:58 PM
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I'm reporting this for a forum change. I'm sure the answers will be much more informative, and probably amusing if we get away from that troublesome "factual information" requirement in GQ.
#3
Old 04-24-2014, 09:00 PM
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While there are aspects of 90s culture that can be cited factually, the OP seems to be looking more for personal experiences. Since this is more of an informal poll than a factual question, let's move it over to IMHO.

Moving thread from General Questions to In My Humble Opinion.
#4
Old 04-24-2014, 09:06 PM
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Just watch the original Beverly Hills 90210. That's exactly what the 90's were like.
#5
Old 04-24-2014, 09:06 PM
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It was a peaceful interlude for us in the US. The Berlin Wall and the USSR fell in 89-90, and we had about ten years of only minor incidents (e.g. Desert Storm) with no "Evil Empire" looming in the distance. In the 80's the Evil Empire was the Eastern Bloc, and after 2001 the Evil Empire was Islamic terrorism.
#6
Old 04-24-2014, 09:08 PM
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That's a pretty open-ended question. Life was much like it is today, without smart phones or flat TVs. The music was different, and the clothes, and the cars, but other than that I don't remember it being remarkably different. Birds flew, fish swam, water was still wet.

Of course the internet was a lot slower back then, and Lady Gaga was called "Madonna" in those days.
#7
Old 04-24-2014, 09:12 PM
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I remember when we first discovered how to make fire. Man, did that make life easier! No more trying to keep a single fire lit for months on end. No more begging the neighbors for some of their fire when yours went out.
#8
Old 04-24-2014, 09:12 PM
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Major incidents:

Desert Storm, O. J. Simpson murder trial (the infamous bloody glove one), Bill Clinton scandal (Monica Lewinsky/"Zippergate"), the Unabomber, Lorena Bobbitt, Hong Kong turnover, Timothy McVeigh, Branch Davidians/David Koresh (Waco seige), Tokyo Subway sarin attack.
#9
Old 04-24-2014, 09:15 PM
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Rap music was good compared to today's brag music. Alternative music was still freshly evolving from the great music of the '80's.

KROQ on 106.7FM in Southern California was still independent.

I had almost no responsibilities. I got laid a lot.

The '90's were a good time.
#10
Old 04-24-2014, 09:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
...O. J. Simpson murder trial (the infamous bloody glove one)....
Oh, and the rise of home internet access too (1996/1997 was sort of the watershed age).

And those two sort of went together in a silly joke (remember this was when most people were only just discovering the internet and might not have used it much, if at all).

Q: Did you hear that OJ Simpson has an email address?

A:

SPOILER:

//\//\(esc)
SPOILER:

slash slash backslash, slash slash backslash, escape.

#11
Old 04-24-2014, 09:20 PM
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Here's my memory of it.

In the early 70s, you had the hippie counter-culture which was all about rejecting the standard way of doing things and trying to make a better world (and also sex and drugs and woohoo!). Towards the end of the 70s you had a cultural shift away from the hippies and towards the disco generation. Things became more polished. Guys in ragged earthy clothes with beards and long hair were out and clean shaven guys with short hair were in. By the time the 80s were in full swing, it was Alex P. Keaton and electronic new wave music all the way.

For most of the 20th century, culture tended to swing back and forth, and the 90s were no exception. Things started swinging back towards the way they had been in the 70s (and in the 50s beatnicks before that). Smooth and polished like Alex P. Keaton was out, and Nirvanna grunge was in. The cultural voice wasn't as strong, though. Each of the generations before it had been much better defined. The hippies were making the world better. The 80s yuppies were making themselves better (screw the world, we want money and Wall Street!). The 90s didn't seem to have so much definition. Some folks called it the lost generation or generation X. While Nirvanna was often cited as the typical voice of the generation, there were a lot of folks saying that Nirvanna didn't speak for them.

The hip-hop MTV culture really began to take hold.

And basically, since then, very little has changed.The hip-hop MTV culture still dominates. Music and culture have pretty much stagnated since then. Grunge is a bit less popular, but if you want to know what music and culture were like back then, it's not much different than now.

The only dramatic change is the internet. The world was much less connected back then. Cell phones were rare, though they got smaller, cheaper, and more popular throughout the 90s. Smart phones and information at your fingertips just wasn't there. The internet started long before the 90s, but in the 90s it transitioned from something that only weird computer geeks (like me) used to something that mainstream everyday people used. Almost everyone soon had a computer in their home, a nice big clunky desktop. Everything going small and portable came later.

Economically, the early 90s were in the dumpster. The "spend spend spend, put it all on credit" mentality of the 80s resulted in massive debts in the late 80s and early 90s. This caused massive economic stagnation. Things got better in the late 90s, then slowly went downhill and have never really recovered since.

That's my memory of it, FWIW.

Last edited by engineer_comp_geek; 04-24-2014 at 09:20 PM.
#12
Old 04-24-2014, 09:25 PM
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With respect to personal tech, it was a time of incredible change.

No Internet at all, really, for the first half of the decade, and depending on where you were, somewhere around 1997 or 1998 dial-up finally reached speeds (28.8) that made Web-surfing possible without growing old waiting for that next page to load. By the end of the decade, broadband was finally getting traction.

Computers themselves went from low-capacity and expensive early in the decade to relatively cheap and a lot more speed and memory by the end of it. Hell, in 1990, 5.25" floppies were still in frequent use, and their absurdly small (by today's standards) storage of what, 360kb, was something you actually needed and used. Think on that!

Cell phones? In 1990, they were pretty much limited to cars because they needed the power and a big-ass antenna, and they were for people who were either wealthy or had a professional need for them. By the end of the decade, most people who wanted one could afford one, and you could carry them around in a shirt pocket.

Really, so much stuff we take for granted now basically didn't exist in 1990.
#13
Old 04-24-2014, 09:28 PM
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Y2K
All the damn computer programs had to be changed to allow for a 4 digit year.
Dozens of files had to be reformatted, thousands of programs had to be changed.
Talk about flipping boring. Do you have any idea what it is like to go through program after program making the same damn change in each one?

Everybody was sure that life as we know it was going to change overnight.
#14
Old 04-24-2014, 09:40 PM
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I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. AOL discs used as coasters. I watched music videos on MTV and Tim Allen on prime time TV. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
#15
Old 04-24-2014, 09:42 PM
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There was broadly based economic growth. There were lots of jobs, low inflation. The decade ended with budget surpluses. There was a steady drop in the crime rate.

Nevertheless, lots of white men hated Clinton. This was probably lingering fallout from the War in Vietnam. Many Americans still were angry that the United States lost the war, and that many who demonstrated against the war were prospering. Bill and Hillary Clinton were obvious examples of prosperous war protestors.
#16
Old 04-24-2014, 09:49 PM
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There were a lot fewer tattooed people.
#17
Old 04-24-2014, 09:55 PM
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I watched Clueless two days ago, and it was like going back in time. They had mobile phones that ten years ago would have looked ridiculously huge, but now only look ridiculously thick. The fashions and makeup, the music. What a great trip down memory lane.

The internet has made us all far more interconnected than we were back then. I don't think things have dramatically changed in other ways.
#18
Old 04-24-2014, 10:02 PM
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Used to be if you weren't at home, you were pretty much unreachable and disconnected from the world. Now, we're all constantly tethered to society via texts and Facebook.

In 1995 (after seeing REM on the Monster tour, to make it even more grounded in the 90s) I broke down 15 miles outside the nearest city or service area, at 3 in the morning, and I had to walk until somebody stopped and picked me up which took about an hour. That wouldn't happen to most people these days as we're always a phone call and GPS signal away from help at any time - most of the time.
#19
Old 04-24-2014, 10:04 PM
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For me, the early 90's were cool, the mid 90's were a drag, the latter 90's were definitely cool. Same for the 80's, 70's and 60's. - Puberty happened during the late 60's, college and punk during the late 70's, late 80's the _love_ thing happened. Blew town for good in the late 90's. Yeah, end of the decade has been Fun Fun Fun. Don't remember the 2000's. Just coasting now.

Last edited by Little_Pig; 04-24-2014 at 10:06 PM.
#20
Old 04-24-2014, 10:06 PM
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Watch You've Got Mail. That does a pretty good job of capturing the late 90s zeitgeist as I remember it. Everything was email (on dial-up), exciting new coffee drinks, and exciting big bookstores.
#21
Old 04-24-2014, 10:07 PM
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Flannel, lots of flannel.
#22
Old 04-24-2014, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
Q: Did you hear that OJ Simpson has an email address?
I think this joke (or some of the variations of it) will always be seen as the quintessential 90's joke. Compare it to what might be the quintessential 70's joke: "Nixon had to see Deep Throat three times before he got it down Pat." There are multiple references to important cultural or historical events / people, summed up in a very terse little bit of humor.
#23
Old 04-24-2014, 10:12 PM
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9.6 to 14.4 kbps telephone modems. No web GUI until halfway into the decade. Apple on the ropes. Interminable flow of AOL installation CDs. Books were on paper and no place had free WiFi. Want to watch movie at home? Rent a VHS tape or DVD from the local Blockbuster and remember to rewind before returning it.

No Google, no Wikipedia. USENET was the place for ranting, raving, information, misinformation, fandoms, fanfics, warez, SPAM and stupendous amounts of text pornography. For some reason developers of online services and web interfaces believed stock prices were THE most desired thing anyone wanted to access online.

You could wear your shoes and belt through the airport checkpoint, check two free bags, and domestic airlines actually provided free warm meals (two choices: chicken or pasta) and we all complained how terrible they were. For at least the first half of the decade you still had to have a set of actual printed contract-of-carriage tickets in your hand before checking in. During your travels you would document your whereabouts with a FILM camera; its batteries would last months.





Politically, "They" were already trying to [pick one or as many as you care] take our guns away, trade blood for oil, prevent us from raising our kids as we saw fit, kill babies/abolish choice, make us speak Spanish/forbid us from speaking Spanish, remove/impose the 10 Commandments, etc. The POTUS was elected on a platform of Health Care and all that got him within two years was a pasting in the Congressionals from a new generation of Conservatives who proceeded to have a federal shutdown... no big change there. Though those who felt the man had no right to be President thought so on the basis of evidence of past draft-dodging and proof of ongoing pussy-chasing, as opposed to imaginary tales of bizarre birth circumstances.
#24
Old 04-24-2014, 10:22 PM
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The 1990s sucked and was my least favorite decade! Everybody was angry as hell for absolutely no reason, and every dysfunctional violent creep got turned into a folk hero (much worse than today). The culture was a huge pile of low-budget grunge music, gangster rap, and Tarantino clones (for the guys) and cliched Celtic/Gothic/Anne Rice junk (for the girls). Bill Clinton was the only thing I remember fondly.

Last edited by LC Strawhouse; 04-24-2014 at 10:24 PM.
#25
Old 04-24-2014, 10:26 PM
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Computers advanced quite a bit for the general consumer.

Desert Storm was pretty big, and was live on TV.

You could live on student loans while going to college, don't know if that's true anymore.
#26
Old 04-24-2014, 10:26 PM
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I was just out of college and in my 20s. I graduated into a recession and many people I knew had a hard time finding a job. In the early part of the decade people my age were kind of bitter but got less so as the decade wore on and things got better economically.

The internet was new and relativity hard to use. I dialed in using what was called a Shell account that used Linux. I paid by the hour not because my ISP (which was a tiny company run by a handful of people) charged that way but because the only phone number I could dial into was long distance (I am pretty sure 90% of that sentence is alien to you )

The internet had three parts, mainly, E-mail, something called Usenet Newsgroups which were kind of like Web message boards like this one) and something new called The World Wide Web. I browsed it using a text based browser called Lynx because that was all you could do with a Shell account.

Personally I spent the better part of the decade first in a long term relationship and then a few years getting other it when it went south.

That notwithstanding, all in all it was a good decade.
#27
Old 04-24-2014, 10:35 PM
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Like now except technology wasn't as good. Plus we had to blow on the video games to make them work.

There was a period in the 90s where things were relatively calm and prosperous for the US. The economy was growing, we weren't at constant war, Russia considered joining NATO, Islamic terrorism was a marginal threat, wages were going up, jobs were plentiful.

So it wasn't all bad. The economic crisis, destruction of the middle class, endless war and fear, etc. weren't there. Parents weren't as terrified everyone was a pedophile back then, but the moral panic over drugs has gone down too. So its a mixed bag of fear and ignorance.

Watch the movie reality bites and go through this list of 90s problems memes.

http://quickmeme.com/1990s-Problems/page/5/

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 04-24-2014 at 10:37 PM.
#28
Old 04-24-2014, 10:41 PM
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The decade to me started with a war (gulf war) and a recession. I was a recent graduate and somewhat underemployed but I was content.

Computers were a novelty. Most offices didn't have one and my office got one and didn't know what to do with it. At home I either used a hand-me down computer but eventually bought an old Mac SE.

After the Gulf War I had resigned myself to Bush being President until 1996. But his general neglect of....everything along with his decision to go on the offensive against Ross Perot instead of Clinton lead to a surprise win for Bill C.

Bill C. then went around a lot talking to people until there was some griping "its the economy, stupid" and he stopped that. From his work or not the economy start to improve and would grow well for the rest of the 90's.

Music had sucked for a while in the late 80's and grunge was something of a breath of fresh air, even if I didn't like it very much. For every Nirvana there seemed to be a pair of Lemonheads just covering old tunes badly. But it gave rock music an enema.

Mid 90's I discovered the internet. USENET was the thing for me until 2001 when it just became too much of a sewer to continue using it. Those days were brazen and many in the groups I haunted were feral. It was a harsh time when moderators were unknown to the land.

The internet grew in popularity and to this day I have a hard time putting into words what an internet that didn't want to know what it wanted to be when it grew up was like. We get used to google and wikipedia that we forget when search engines used to advertise (yes, I know Google and Bing have done ads) - oddly enough the engines often bragged about how fast they were -not that they got good results with that speed. Some bragged about their results but they never came up to snuff once Google got in place.

Watch these search engine ads from 1998 to give some perspective.
#29
Old 04-24-2014, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Erdosain View Post
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. AOL discs used as coasters. I watched music videos on MTV and Tim Allen on prime time TV. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
#30
Old 04-24-2014, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by LC Strawhouse View Post
The 1990s sucked and was my least favorite decade! Everybody was angry as hell for absolutely no reason, and every dysfunctional violent creep got turned into a folk hero (much worse than today). The culture was a huge pile of low-budget grunge music, gangster rap, and Tarantino clones (for the guys) and cliched Celtic/Gothic/Anne Rice junk (for the girls). Bill Clinton was the only thing I remember fondly.
With a few changes, this sounds like today.
#31
Old 04-24-2014, 11:05 PM
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Here's a recent XKCD that's very applicable.

I went to college in the late '90s. We only had dial up internet in our dorms. No wireless, no high speed and if you used the dialup it meant 3 of 7 people couldn't use their phones (most people didn't have cell phones yet).
I remember sitting around all day with friends, bored out of our skulls watching talk shows and Judge Judy and Passions...Passions!, just passing the time until 6 or 7 when regular TV came on. And kill yourself if you got stuck there on the weekend. The best you could hope for is that you could sleep through most of it.
#32
Old 04-24-2014, 11:08 PM
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At the beginning of the decade I read The Straight Dope in the local alternative newspaper while sitting in a locally owned coffee house. At the end of the decade I read The Straight Dope on my computer at home before going out to the Starbucks that had eaten my local coffee house. Other than that I mostly remember the '94 Northridge quake and my really great beach apartment.
#33
Old 04-24-2014, 11:08 PM
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Watch Daria.
#34
Old 04-24-2014, 11:11 PM
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Watch Daria.
Only after mom told us not to watch Beavis and Butthead.
#35
Old 04-24-2014, 11:40 PM
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A lot of these things were very dependent on where you were; my dorm was wired for ethernet, and by extension internet access in about 1994 at Texas A&M. Computers were hardly novelties- I had a C64 in the 80s, and a series of PCs in the 90s. In a "Ship of Theseus" way, I still have the final PC I ever bought in 1998. And my job at a rinky-dink engineering firm in 1992 had LOTS of old-school DOS PCs. They weren't a novelty at all- I'd say that if your job didn't have PCs by then, you were backward as fuck.

But for the most part, it's not much different than it is now, with the big exception of the drastic expansion of computing and communications (WWW, ubiquitous computers, cell/smart phones, DVR/nifty cable boxes). Music isn't much different- we listened to all the same stuff back then, just with maybe a slightly different sound.

I will say this- people are more socially liberal than they used to be. I'm not saying this was good, but you could call a gay man a "fag" or a lesbian a "dyke" in normal conversation without anyone batting an eye. Derogatory words like "retard" or "cripple" weren't really so frowned upon as they are now. The idea of gay marriage would have made us laugh out loud when I was in college; I gather students these days are generally all for it.

We were just starting to see the ready availability of exotic foods and drinks from all over the world- I don't recall seeing any craft beer in stores until the mid-late 1990s, and the number and types of imports shot way up from a limited set of Bass, Heineken, St. Pauli Girl and various Mexican beers, to a whole lot of stuff from all over.

Last edited by bump; 04-24-2014 at 11:41 PM.
#36
Old 04-24-2014, 11:40 PM
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Only the nerds, dweebs and weirdos were online. Then they made made The Internet and everyone else was allowed in and it got to be sort of a drag.
#37
Old 04-24-2014, 11:56 PM
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Originally Posted by RTFirefly View Post
With respect to personal tech, it was a time of incredible change.

No Internet at all, really, for the first half of the decade, and depending on where you were, somewhere around 1997 or 1998 dial-up finally reached speeds (28.8) that made Web-surfing possible without growing old waiting for that next page to load. By the end of the decade, broadband was finally getting traction.

Computers themselves went from low-capacity and expensive early in the decade to relatively cheap and a lot more speed and memory by the end of it. Hell, in 1990, 5.25" floppies were still in frequent use, and their absurdly small (by today's standards) storage of what, 360kb, was something you actually needed and used. Think on that!

Cell phones? In 1990, they were pretty much limited to cars because they needed the power and a big-ass antenna, and they were for people who were either wealthy or had a professional need for them. By the end of the decade, most people who wanted one could afford one, and you could carry them around in a shirt pocket.

Really, so much stuff we take for granted now basically didn't exist in 1990.
Yep. I was born in 1975 and, for me, the 10-year period that represented the biggest change to me was probably around 1993-2003, so mostly spanning the 90s for the reasons above.
#38
Old 04-25-2014, 12:04 AM
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As I remember, in the 90's, people weren't lawyers yet and had far fewer jobs to go to and responsibilities demanding their time and attention, spending much more time on their college classes and rock bands. Having fewer jobs and responsibilities, they also had more freedom in how they dressed, how they wore their hair, how late they stayed up at their parties and rock shows. Their comings and goings in general were much more free and easygoing; they were known to pick up at a moment's notice and go couch surfing at music festivals in other cities for days on end in a manner that would be unthinkable in this day and age. As they had far fewer wives and children, they engaged in a lot more boozing, hooking up at parties and general crazy shit.
#39
Old 04-25-2014, 12:11 AM
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Jobs were hard to come by. for at least the first half.

Watching the internet evolve and HSI become available was mind blowing.
I was a student in the late 80's and being able to connect to the university from home was a God send. It meant we no longer had to pull all nighters in the computer labs on campus. By the end of the 90's it was just amazing how fast the internet had matured from command line - text only communication to full blown GUI interfaces with sophisticated (for that time) graphics.

I tell my kids that when I was there age if I wanted to learn about something I had to get on my bike and go to the library and hope they had a book on the subject and then pray it wasn't 20 years out of date. The vast amount of information we have at our fingertips today is truly a paradigm shift.
#40
Old 04-25-2014, 12:50 AM
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So, here's a run-down of what I remember about 1990, technologically. I would have been 14-15 at the time.

The computer market wasn't consolidated behind two main operating systems/manufacturers. Today, it's pretty much Windows vs OS X (and Linux.) And now they all run on pretty much Intel chips. Back then, Commodore was still a fairly big player in the affordable computer market. In fact, most my friends with computers pretty much had Commodores, with the exception of a couple that had Apple IIes or IIgses. If you were involved in electronic music, you might have an Atari ST (which came with built-in MIDI support). For video production, maybe a Commodore Amiga. My recollection is the stereotypical breakdown was IBMs for business, non-Macintosh Apples for eduction, Commodore 64s for games and general affordable home computing, Apple Macintoshes for desktop publishing, Atari STs for MIDI, Commodore Amigas for video. So there were a lot more differences between platforms.

Computer monitors were big, bulky CRT things. Graphics were getting better, but high-resolution color support wasn't something expected. If you've seen NES or SNES graphics, that's what was fairly normal. There were better graphics at the time, but the average personal computer you might come across was something in that general range.

Photo quality printers were non-existent. Laser printers were big for home publishing, but us middle-of-the-road computer users were generally stuck with noisy, slow dot matrix printers. You still see these in the wild, because they can write on carbon copy paper (I seem to find auto repair shops everywhere using dot matrix to this day.) And, yeah, carbon copies. Those were around everywhere. Speaking of, even in the late 80s, our school used ditto machines to make copies.

The internet existed, but not in the popular sense. Online services had a presence via Compuserve, Quantum Link (related to AOL), Prodigy, etc., but the general populace had no interaction with going online or the internet. You might find a local BBS (bulletin board service) to dial into and chat with people and (illegally) download files/warez, but that was for the more tech-oriented types. And online speeds would be so slow that you can see each line of text scroll across the screen as it's being transmitted. The vast majority of people I knew with computers had no modems to connect with the outside world. No networking, they were completely used as independent machines.

Writing papers for school or doing any kind of research involved getting your ass off the couch and tracking down sources. Every paper I'd ever written in high school and even college (I graduated in 1998) required extensive time at the library, poring through books, newspapers, microfilm and microfiche to get the information I needed that I can now get with a Google search in approximately 0.0002 seconds. (Well, some of that info is still only available in those forms, so it's worth knowing how to find them.) However, things changed a lot from 1990-2000. By around 1994-1995, the Internet started to make headway. The WWW (what you're looking at right now), was developing quickly. I remember being in college in 1993 and the only interface to the internet was a text prompt. You could telnet places, ftp (to download files), and gopher (which was a menu-driven way of navigating the internet). Yahoo! at that time was still just a collection of favorite websites--I recall you could buy books at the time which generally served as directories where to find various internet destinations for topics that interest you. There weren't really search engines as you know them today. It took a good bit of digging to find the information you wanted. By 1994 to 1995, with Mosaic and Netscape, the WWW and internet as we know it today really started coming together. I still remember the first few times I saw the graphical web browsers and being annoyed at how "dumbed down" they looked for me, how slow they were vs. accessing the internet text-only, etc. I quickly grew out of that. By the end of the decade, especially with Google (I believe 1998 or 1999), the internet became incredibly accessible, easily searchable, and an important academic tool. I'm sure it was before, but I never really had a chance to use it in an academic sense until after I graduated.

Email as a method of communication grew in popularity in the 90s. Nobody except for one person I knew had an email address in 1990. In 1996 when I worked and lived abroad for a year, I still hand wrote letters to pretty much everyone. Most of my peers did have an email address, but it wasn't easy finding a way to get an email to them. I'd have to find a university or a library. Internet cafes were only just starting to take off then. By the end of the 90s, email was my primary method of communication with friends.

Nobody I knew had a cell phone in the early to mid 90s. Even by the late 90s, it was still rather unusual to have a cell phone. I knew far more people with beepers/pagers (remember those? Still used by some professions) than cell phones. (In fact, I can't think of a single friend with a cell phone until about 1998 or so).

Photography? All film (except for some professional uses.) Shopping? All done in-person. Books? All on paper.

And so on and so forth. I can go on for many, many, many more paragraphs. It's just simply inconceivable to me how much technology and life progressed and changed my life from 1990 to 2000.
#41
Old 04-25-2014, 01:49 AM
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Location: chicago
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Society was less homogeneous and less informed because most people weren't discussing issues with other people from all walks of life and from all over the world like they're doing now, or getting immediate answers to most questions through an online query.
#42
Old 04-25-2014, 02:09 AM
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Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 75,471
I was born in 1961 so I can offer memories of life before, during, and after the nineties.

My recollection was that the nineties were a good time. People my age had grown up during the Cold War - we had accepted the possibility that the world could end in a nuclear war at any point. Pessimists saw it as inevitable. Optimists hoped for nothing more than an ongoing holding of the status quo.

So the relatively peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union and its empire was an amazing surprise. Nobody expected the communists would just call it quits. The modern equivalent would be al Qaeda announcing "We've just be rereading the Koran and it's made us realize we've been all wrong. Terrorism is bad. We completely apologize for all the terrible things we've done. We're going to turn ourselves in to the appropriate authorities and accept the punishment we deserve."

The other big thing was the development of computers and the internet. Every month you'd hear about new ideas and capabilities appearing. We could see we were living through a major technological revolution.

So the overall feeling was hope. Suddenly things seemed possible. We'd look around at what was happening right now and think that in ten years we might have things like world peace and nanotechnology.
#43
Old 04-25-2014, 02:10 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth001 View Post
Obviously I was too young to remember the 90s.
Am I the only one who gets a nervous twitch whenever someone says this?

The 90s were just last week, weren't they? Cripes, how did I get so old?

As for how I remember it? The internet existed (at least in the later 90s), but it wasn't ubiquitous, and it was still pretty crap. I still had an apartment without internet access into the first couple of years of the 2000s (so, that was back when I still left the house). No iPods, which I can't imagine how I survived.

I was a lot less fat, and girls liked me a lot more.

This might be a European thing, or just something weird about my particular life experience, but airplane travel wasn't the obvious and default option when traveling, at least if the distances weren't huge. I would go on buses and trains a hell of a lot more, even to places where that seems positively nuts now. These days there's always a cheap flight.

Beyond that... nah, it's pretty much the same. As for popular culture, I can see a very clean break between the 80s and the 90s, but everything since then just seems contemporary to me.
#44
Old 04-25-2014, 02:25 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 8,054
Oh, a couple more things.

People still smoked indoors. That was pretty nuts.

Pornography was harder to come by (see crapness of internet). If I'd had access to the amounts and variety of gentleman's entertainment when I was 18 that a quick Google search will provide for you now, I imagine that I would have needed a full combined right hand, schlong and brain replacement within a year. So it was probably for the best.
#45
Old 04-25-2014, 02:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martian Bigfoot View Post
I imagine that I would have needed a full combined right hand, schlong and brain replacement within a year. So it was probably for the best.
*Suddenly realizing that I'm talking to someone too young to remember the 90s*. Fuck! Um... you didn't hear all that.

In the 90s, young people were respectful of their parents, did their homework and only watched cartoons. Which is how it should be now! And never engaged in such activities as you absolutely did not hear me reference above.

Um... anyway.
#46
Old 04-25-2014, 02:55 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 6,635
The Straight Dope was on AOL. You could splurge and get a 15" monitor. There were 56Kbps modems but you were lucky to get 36Kbps speed. Lots of people wore pagers on their belts. People worried about Y2K. To back up your computer, you needed to buy a 25 pack of 3.5 floppies. A 5 gig hard drive was a LOT of storage. There were no USB ports.

South Park was new and controversial. Bevis and Butthead was popular. Grunge was popular. They had music videos on MTV.
#47
Old 04-25-2014, 05:00 AM
KRC KRC is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Albuqerque
Posts: 2,319
Things that haven't changed much:

Parents saw some sort of enemy lurking everywhere trying to get at their kids. With the Soviet Union and commies out of the picture it was Satan Worshippers, who corrupted kids by putting backwards messages in music.

Parents thought kids had horrible taste in music and fashion and at best were disrespectful, at worst sociopathic. Plus they watched too much TV instead of going out to play.

Politicians tried to skirt issues like the economy by jabbering about "family values" and the evil influence of Hollywood (Hollywood being any movie, TV show, book, or work of art they didn't like.)

Things that have changed:

Widespread availability of the Internet after the mid 90's and brick and mortar stores going out of business as people began to shop online. Older people complaining that kids spent too much time online instead of going out to play.

Old fashioned cartoons being replaced by CGI.

Practically everyone and his dog having a cell phone by the end of the decade.

Sending resumes in by e-mail instead of snail mail. Nowadays you can apply for 40 jobs without leaving your chair.

Gay marriage. In 1990 that seemed hundreds of years away.
#48
Old 04-25-2014, 05:15 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Indonesia and Hawaii
Posts: 4,274
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Ducca View Post
Used to be if you weren't at home, you were pretty much unreachable and disconnected from the world. Now, we're all constantly tethered to society via texts and Facebook.

In 1995 (after seeing REM on the Monster tour, to make it even more grounded in the 90s) I broke down 15 miles outside the nearest city or service area, at 3 in the morning, and I had to walk until somebody stopped and picked me up which took about an hour. That wouldn't happen to most people these days as we're always a phone call and GPS signal away from help at any time - most of the time.
A small point, but I think as part of that phenomenon it has gotten much harder for mystery/suspense novelists to adhere to genre expectations without becoming stale or farfetched.

In the old days, the private dick could easily be kidnapped or harmed by the bad guy. She'd be thrown into the locked warehouse or followed by another car trying to force her off the road, and that would be a scary situation. Now, she'd just have to whip out her cell phone and call for help.

As a consequence of this, private eyes and other mystery-solvers now have an amazingly large tendency to lose, break, or forget to charge their phones.
#49
Old 04-25-2014, 08:09 AM
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Miskatonic University
Posts: 12,003
I don't remember much. Our first daughter was born in 1991, and everything since then has just been background noise until she graduated last year. As soon as we get daughter mark 2 launched next year, I can start paying attention to the world again.
#50
Old 04-25-2014, 08:58 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 4,287
It was just like today, except less internet, the dire fashion you see today was popular for the first time, and the music was better.
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