That’s How Old I Am

8 May 2024
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AI-generated man sitting in front of a steampunk computer

Inspired by this blog post, I decided it would be fun to write my own list of technologies and experiences that show my age. Most people wouldn’t consider mid-30s to be that old and it really isn’t, but from a technological standpoint, it might as well be millennia.

So, let’s dive into it. These are the things I remember using and experiencing for the first time that are now obsolete or have changed considerably since I first encountered them:

  • Three-button mice without a wheel
  • Single-button mice on Macs (without multi-touch)
  • 20″ CRT monitors that seemed giant and would briefly dim the lights when you turned them on
  • Crunchy hard drive noises
  • The sound of a modem connecting
  • Desktop computers that didn’t have enough power to play an MP3
  • Upgrading to Windows 95
  • Ghosting on passive matrix laptop screens (both color and black and white)
  • Subversion was the latest and greatest code versioning system
  • JavaScript had a competitor from Microsoft that only ran in Internet Explorer: VBScript
  • JavaScript was sparsely used on websites
  • JavaScript was only used in the frontend
  • PHP’s first release
  • ASP before .NET was appended to it
  • Rounded corners on websites were achieved with images… most of which weren’t even transparent
  • ColdFusion
  • Macromedia Flash
  • Guestbooks on websites
  • Hit counters on websites
  • The Netscape Communicator software suite
  • Brushed metal and pinstripes were modern UI elements for Mac OS X
  • Multiple cores meant multiple processors
  • Separate math coprocessors
  • Schools requiring kids to bring floppy disks to store their work from the computer lab
  • America Online (“You’ve got mail!”)
  • Firebug was a revolution in web development
  • Creating websites with Microsoft Frontpage
  • AltaVista
  • When I got an invitation to join Gmail for the closed beta period in 2004
  • Microsoft Encarta
  • Web directories
  • Blogrolls
  • The fact that the Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer had a laser instead of a track ball was an amazing feat of technology
  • …and many more

The more I wrote, the more I remembered which is how that list got so long. I could have easily kept going, but decided that the list was long enough, so I stopped there.

It’s been a fun trip down memory lane and there are certainly things I miss about technology from the past, but mostly I prefer technology from the present.

What technologies do you remember using for the first time or that have died off since? Let me know in the comments!

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About the Author

Alex Seifert
Alex is a developer, a drummer and an amateur historian. He enjoys being on the stage in front of a large crowd, but also sitting in a room alone, programming something or writing about history.

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