Every generation has certain trends that define it, and the ’90s was no exception. If you’re a true 90’s kid, here is a list that’ll definitely leave you feeling nostalgic.
15. Dial-up Internet
It took forever to load a page or download a file, but it was all we had; and we loved it! Early ISPs included AOL, Earthlink, Erols, CompuServe, and Netscape. You could pick up a free disk in Walmart or similar places that would let you try it for free for 30 days.
FYI, dial-up Internet still exists. Companies like Juno, NetZero, Netscape and AOL offer customers dial-up service for a modest fee. Juno and NetZero offer a free option that’ll get you only 10 hours a month, but it could be a useful backup, especially for those in rural areas where broadband may not be accessible.
14. Barney the Dinosaur
Kids loved him; adults found him annoying. Of course I’m talking about that big purple dinosaur sensation from our imagination. However you felt about him, you can’t deny he was a huge ’90s icon. Barney & Friends ran from 1992 to 2009.
FUN FACT: Toy maker Mattel announced a partnership with 9 Story Media Group to relaunch Barney & Friends in 2017.
13. That Weird ‘S’ Thing We Used to Draw
Source: Wikimedia Commons
The Super S, Stussy S, or whatever you call it, there’s probably not a person on this planet–if they’re old enough–who hasn’t drawn it. The funny thing is, even though everyone has drawn it, no one knows exactly where it came from. There has been some speculation as to the origins of it, however. Nevertheless, whatever your take on it, we can all agree that it was fun to draw.
12. Fanny Packs
Source: Wikimedia Commons
A convenient way to carry your money, snacks, and other essentials, fanny packs were all the rage back in the early ’90s. FYI: Fanny packs have made a comeback! They’ve been given an updated look and come in faux fur, bright colors, and designer versions known as belt bags.
A matter of convenience for busy moms and a symbol of coolness for kids, these “assembly required” lunches came in vast array of offerings, including pepperoni pizza, lunch meat with crackers and cheese, and chicken nuggets.
FUN FACT: Lunchables were created to help Oscar Mayer sell more bologna.
TGIF (an abbreviation for Thank Goodness It’s Funny) was a 2-hour block of programming that aired on ABC on Friday nights. ABC’s then-president Bob Iger told Entertainment Weekly, “I noticed in looking at our Friday nights that the other networks had dramas. So I said, ‘Let’s push the fact that we’re the only ones that are funny on that night.'” Indeed the shows were funny. TGIF brought us greats like Family Matters, Full House, Perfect Strangers, Step by Step, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, Boy Meets World, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Streaming service Hulu struck a deal with Warner Bros. to bring back TGIF–at least some of the shows anyway. “These shows are more than just beloved hits, they were part of a cultural tradition to tune in every Friday night,” Craig Erwich, Hulu’s SVP of Content, said in a statement to TV Guide. “Now, it can be Friday any day of the week on Hulu.”
9. Music Videos
Gone are the days when MTV (short for Music Television) actually showed music videos. It seems that nowadays all they’re interested in is reality shows.
HINT: If you tune in at just the right time (usually early morning hours), you might be able to catch a video or two.
8. The Walkman
The Walkman was conceived after Sony co-founder Masaru Ibuka looked for a way to listen to opera on the go. The Walkman, which became one of Sony’s most successful brands, transitioned over the years from cassette player to CD player, Mini-Disc, MP3, and streaming music. The original Walkman was retired in 2010.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
SNICK (short for Saturday Night Nickelodeon) was a 2-hour block of programming that aired on Nickelodeon on Saturday nights. It ran for over a decade and brought us great shows like All That, Kenan & Kel, Cousin Skeeter, Clarissa Explains It All, The Amanda Show, The Secret World of Alex Mack, and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. SNICK was one of the network’s most popular programming blocks–so popular that some of the shows started being aired in reruns as part of the programming block on TeenNick known as “The 90s Are All That”.
FUN FACT: Shaquille O’Neal owns one of the original big orange couches that served as the block’s “mascot”. According to an article in Vanity Fair, Shaq’s manager said, “he liked it, asked for it, and they gave it to him.” The other original couch is still at Nickelodeon headquarters.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Pagers, once seen as just a workplace essential for doctors and business executives, somehow made its way into teen fashion in the ’90s. “It’s become a status symbol for youngsters to carry pagers,” Wesley Mitchell, who headed the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Police Department, said in a 1991 article appearing in the Los Angeles Times. “You’ve got young high school kids spending their allowances to get pagers so they can look important and be in the in crowd.”
“A lot of them have beepers that don’t even work,” Officer Tim Harris told the Times. “I’ll open it up and it doesn’t have batteries or it’s all rusted inside.” Some of them even wear garage door openers because they look like pagers, he added.
5. Blowing into Game Cartridges to Get Them Working Again
We swore by it, but, according to Chris Higgens of mentalfloss.com, it doesn’t work. Higgens, who turned to game show host Frankie Viturello for help, notes that it likely appeared to work because removing a cartridge and inserting it again improves the connection between the console and the cartridge. “The act of removing, blowing in, and re-seating a cartridge most likely creates another random opportunity for the connection to be better made. So removing the cartridge 10 times and putting back in without blowing on it might net the exact same results as blowing on it between each time,” Viturello told Higgens. “I suppose it has a lot to do with the placebo effect,” Viturello said. “U.S. NES hardware required, on most games, optimal connection across up to 72 pins as well as communication with a security lock-out chip. The theory that ‘dust’ could be a legitimate inhibitor and that ‘blowing it out’ was the solution, still sounds silly to me when I say it out loud.”
Whether it was the cartoon series, the trading cards or the “colorful” video games, Pokémon was hot in the ’90s. So hot, in fact, that it spawned the creation of a downloadable game that lets you find Pokémon characters in real life. According to The Seattle Times, about 90% of the adults who downloaded the game onto their smartphones when the craze first hit were between the ages of 18 and 34.
The idea behind the Furby was to give kids an electronic companion that they could pet. Furby debuted in October 1998 at FAO Schwarz toy store in New York. They sold for about $35, but you could get a cheaper, furless version for free at McDonald’s — well, not for free, but for the cost of a Happy Meal.
FUN FACT: The Furby was inspired, in part, by the Tamagotchi–another ’90s era electronic pet.
Coin-operated public telephones, known as payphones, could once be found in nearly every public space, including schools, hospitals, airports, hotels, and even street corners. They were eventually replaced by the cell phone. According to Pew Research, 95% of Americans own a cell phone. That hasn’t stopped some companies, however, from operating payphones. Some 100,000 payphones remain in existence in the U.S. today. One-fifth of them are in New York.
1. Y2K Bug
According to tech experts, computers were supposed to go haywire when the year 2000 arrived because they would recognize the two digit year “00” as 1900 instead of 2000. Mass hysteria ensued, prompting President Bill Clinton to sign into law the Year 2000 Information and Readiness Disclosure Act. The following is a portion of the statement the President made concerning the Act:
“As our Nation prepares for the year 2000 (Y2K), we face an urgent need to address the Y2K problem, which may cause computers and embedded systems that run America’s critical infrastructure to malfunction or even shut down. With little over a year until January 1, 2000, this is a serious global challenge that businesses and governments around the world must address.
…Today, my Council on Year 2000 Conversion is launching “National Y2K Action Week,” to urge small- and medium-sized businesses to take the necessary steps to ensure that the technologies they and their business partners depend upon are ready for the year 2000. Over the next 5 days, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce, and several other Federal agencies will host Y2K educational events at their field offices across the Nation. As part of this week, we are also urging State, local, tribal governments, and community organizations to address this critical problem. More than 160 national organizations representing industries, professions, government, and the nonprofit sector have joined the Council in promoting Y2K action during this week.
…This legislation will help provide businesses, governments, and other organizations with the necessary informational tools to overcome the Y2K computer problem.
…The Y2K problem is an enormous challenge, and we must meet it. Enactment of this legislation is a significant achievement toward allowing all of us to take a successful step into the new millennium.”
After more than a year of hysteria, and an estimated $300 billion spent to upgrade computers and application programs, few problems occurred in the transition into the new millennium.
The ’90s was definitely a great time with some really great food, fashion, toys, music, and TV shows. What other things can you remember from the ’90s? Tell us below.