The 1990s were a heady time for humanity. The world was exploding with new experiences, from the birth of the Internet to the dawn of the golden age of boy bands.
If you lived through that era, chances are you remember some things about it more vividly than others. What are your favorite memories from that time?
Do you still have an AOL email address?
How about a collection of VHS tapes that haven't been touched in decades?
Read on to relive some of your most cherished memories from that era—and, if we've overlooked one, let us know in the comments below.
From the perspective of 2020, the 1990s might seem like a simpler time. But it was actually a pretty complicated decade, full of political turmoil, social change, and technological advancements that would change the world forever.
Here are some of the things we remember most about living through those times:
- The fall of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union
- The dotcom boom (and bust) of Silicon Valley
- Y2K and fears about what would happen when computers went berserk at midnight on December 31st, 1999
- Osama bin Laden's declaration of war against America on 9/11 happened only a few years later...
1. The first time you logged into the Internet with a dial-up modemThe first time you logged into the Internet with a dial-up modem, it felt like magic. The world was at your fingertips!
You could search for anything on Google, chat with friends from all over the world, and download music and movies—all in real-time. It was amazing. And it was all happening in the comfort of your own home.
But things were a lot different back in the early 2000s. You see, the internet was still in its infancy, and it had yet to become the massive digital playground that we know today.
2. Titanic (the movie)The movie Titanic was a huge phenomenon in the 90s. It broke box office records, grossing over $1 billion worldwide (or about $1.3 billion in today's dollars).
But what happened to all the cast and crew? Let's take a look at some highlights:
The director: James Cameron made two more big-budget films after Titanic, including Avatar and Aliens of the Deep (which he directed while living underwater.) He also found time to explore underwater locations for these movies by diving himself!
Screenwriter James DeMonaco is still writing screenplays today - this year alone he wrote Escape Plan 2: Hades with Sylvester Stallone and Breck Eisner directing; now on IMDb as "Escape Plan 3", it seems like they're not done yet.
Aside from being written by someone called "James", it doesn't appear that Escape Plan 3 will have much in common with Titanic - though perhaps there'll be another reference to the ship's sinking...?
3. Tae-BoTae-Bo was a fitness program created by Billy Blanks. It was first released on VHS tapes in 1993 and became a huge success for a few years. In 2005, it was later released on DVD, and then in 2012, it came out as an e-book.
The original Tae-Bo program consisted of five workouts: Power, Upper Body Strength Training, Lower Body Strength Training, Cardio Conditioning, and Abdominal Core (the ab workout).
These workouts were filmed at Billy’s studio in Irvine California where he instructed students on how to properly perform each exercise while motivating them to push harder and do their best.
The workouts were filmed in a way that made them seem less like exercise videos and more like movies. The camera work was top-notch, the lighting was excellent (if not just slightly over-lit), and the background music was upbeat and inspiring. Each workout lasted anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.
4. AOL Instant MessengerThe many chats you had with your friends and family. When you met new people online, it turned out they were actually nice and not weirdos. The heart-warming conversations.
The inside jokes. The arguments you had with your friends which made up for in the end by just being able to laugh about it all later on. This mattered because it was a new way to communicate with people.
It was quick, easy, and more importantly, it allowed you to remain anonymous if you wanted to be. You could be whoever you wanted to be. The site is still up today, but it’s a shell of its former self.
5. Apple Vs. PC (and the good old rainbow-colored Apple logo)You might have forgotten that there was a time when Apple computers were so dominant, the company's CEO could be seen in his trademark black turtleneck and jeans with a personal assistant carrying around his shoes.
When it comes to the Apple Vs. PC debate, there are few things more iconic than the rainbow-colored Apple logo. The original iteration of this logo was designed by Rob Janoff in 1977 for an ad campaign for its new computer, the Apple II series.
It has remained unchanged since then but recently got a makeover at WWDC 2019 which I personally find quite boring as compared to how it used to look like during my childhood days.
The original Apple logo with the rainbow colors was designed to look playful and friendly, while the new version is much more sleek and modern. It's a subtle change, but it reflects how much the company has changed over the years.
6. Smoking was still allowed in public placesCigarettes were still allowed in public places. Smoking was later on banned in public places such as: restaurants, bars, and clubs. I really miss the good old days of smoking in public places.
I remember when it was normal to see people at bars and restaurants puffing away on cigarettes. But today, that's a thing of the past.
It's true that smoking was banned from a lot of places by this time period. But there's one thing everyone still remembers: it was still allowed inside your home!
7. Flower power and hippie culture were still going strongHippie fashion was everywhere: tie-dyed shirts, bellbottoms, flowers in the hair flowers in their hair, peace signs, beads, necklaces, bracelets, and ponchos.
The hippie culture of the 1960s was still alive and well in the 80s! Hair was long on both men and women but with a bit more flair than it had been during the 60's because of new hairstyles such as mullets or mohawks.
MTV and Madonna changed the music scene: MTV helped to popularize the new wave, which was a mix of punk, pop, and synthpop. The “king” of pop Michael Jackson was still going strong with hits like “Billie Jean” and “Thriller.” And Madonna took over radio waves with her catchy songs—and provocative outfits.
8. The world was one big country...Yugoslavia was still around.Yugoslavia was a country in the Balkans, formed after World War I. It was made up of six republics that were broken up into several smaller ones by civil war in the 1990s.
During this time, Yugoslavia had a socialist government and economy (communism). It was one of the more developed countries in Europe until it fell apart during its civil war.
9. The rise of Mcdonald's and other fast-food restaurants.If you were born in the '80s, you've definitely seen at least one McDonald's commercial. In fact, if you're anything like me, every time you hear "I'm Lovin' It," your childhood memories come rushing back to the surface. The rise of fast-food restaurants was arguably one of the biggest trends in food during this decade.
McDonald's was founded by Richard and Maurice McDonald back in 1940 and it wasn't until 1967 that they began offering drive-thru service—the first restaurant to do so (and probably why everyone remembers it). It also introduced breakfast menus sometime between late 1985 and early 1986 with its McPuffin line of sandwiches (which included a sausage patty with egg).
McDonald's happy meal memories definitely include those little toys that came with our food. I'm sure we all remember anxiously awaiting to see what toy would come in our next Happy Meal.
10. Receiving your first email account everIt's important to remember that email was still a novelty when we were kids. Sure, it had been around for a long time by the 90s, but most people didn't have email addresses until much later in their lives. It was also new for businesses and other organizations to get on board with using email as a tool for communication.
By this point in time, many people were using AOL for their personal emails (and I know some of you may still be using AOL today). And this was also around the same time that online dating started getting popular with the first versions of Match.com and eHarmony coming out.
So while there are plenty of things from our childhoods that will always be remembered fondly—like watching Nickelodeon cartoons, playing Sega Genesis at bowling alleys, or wearing acid wash jeans—getting our first email accounts will definitely remain one of those treasures
11. When you had to replace your VCR tapes with DVDs and Blu-Ray discsWhen you had to replace your VCR tapes with DVDs and Blu-Ray discs, learn how to play a CD, and if you were lucky enough to be an early adopter, replace all your music with MP3s.
The first mp3 player was the iPod. You might not remember this now but there was no video on it or anything like that. It just had a screen that showed what song was playing and how much battery power was left in it (which was less than any other device).
The first mp3 player that had a video on it wasn't until 2005 when Steve Jobs released his second generation iphone which of course means that all iphones since then have had video capability!
13. When the only thing you really worried about was having enough change for the payphone to call for help! The only thing you really worried about was having enough change for the payphone to call for help because there was no such thing as cell phones yet and even if there was one, it weighed at least 2 pounds!
You still had to write letters and make phone calls. The only time anyone used the internet was at school or the library. There were no digital cameras, digital music or photos, computers or laptops and definitely no tablets or smartphones! If you needed any information on anything, chances are it came from a book or magazine that you read at home.
There were also no apps back then so if you wanted to play games like Tetris on your phone, well...you could always just go outside and play with rocks instead (or maybe even real ones).
14. When MTV actually played music videos on TVThe 90s and the 2000s are two decades that are known for their iconic music, fashion, and media. Everyone who lived through these decades will always remember them because they were such different times.
Back in the day, MTV actually played music videos on TV. They would show them all day long and sometimes even play them in between shows too. Nowadays, MTV has become more reality TV than anything else. But there was a time when you could actually catch up on what was going on in music just by tuning into MTV.
15. The Spice Girls were EVERYWHEREIt's hard to believe that it's been over 20 years since these five girls first burst onto the scene with their hit single "Wannabe." But there was a time when everyone wanted to be just like Baby Spice or Scary Spice or Sporty Spice or Posh Spice (or even Ginger).
And if you weren't one of those people, then chances are you wanted to be one of their fans anyway! The Spice Girls will forever live in our hearts as one of the most memorable girl groups of all time - and they're still going strong today. This matters because the Spice Girls were a pop culture phenomenon that took the world by storm. They were trendsetters and their impact is still felt today, 20 years later. Their success paved the way for other girl groups and showed that girls can be just as successful in music as boys. This is important because it shows young girls that they can achieve anything they set their minds to, even if it's something as seemingly impossible as becoming a world-famous pop star.
Final ThoughtsWe’ve covered a lot of ground in this blog post. From the first time you encountered dial-up internet, to when Jurassic Park used CGI, and everything in between. We couldn’t possibly cover every memorable thing from the 80s or 90s. But we hope that by reading this article, you got a glimpse at how different things were back then!
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
The world has changed a lot in the last 30 years. When you read this article, you probably got a glimpse at how different things were back then! I hope you enjoyed reading about some of the most iconic moments from the 80s and 90s.
Thank you for reading this post! If there’s anything that makes your heartache for those days from long ago, let us know in the comments below. And as always: See You Next Time!