Nostalgic Triumphs: 90s Relics and The Problems We’ve Proudly Overcome

Life in the 1990s is different than today. Technology in 2023 has evolved to offer many quality-of-life improvements that we take for granted. Back in the 90s, though, we didn't have these quite yet. A recent online discussion talks about 20 examples of 90s problems that don't exist today (thankfully).

1. Less Communication

Twin brothers talking through a tin phone over colorful background
Image Credit: Luis Molinero/Shutterstock.

“Not knowing if someone is late if they bailed, or if they’re dead in a ditch,” expresses a reader. This is so true. We communicated less because not everyone had a bag phone.

2. Hoping The DJ Says The Name of That Cool Song on The Radio

Radio DJ
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It shouldn't surprise that most of these 90s problems involve music.

Back in the day, if we wanted to know the name of the new hit song playing on the radio, we had to catch the disc jockey saying its name. Otherwise, we'd have to wait until when we heard it again.

3. Dealing With a Landline

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Believe it or not, there was once a time when we didn't have phones in our pockets 24/7. Furthermore, these phones had a cord that kept them in place. If you walked around while having a conversation, you had to make sure you didn't walk too far, or twist yourself with the phone cord.

4. Not Being Able to Rent a Movie Because Blockbuster Was Sold Out

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Another big problem was coming home from Blockbuster with the wrong movie.

Now we have any movie we want available on demand. Provided we're subscribed to the right streaming service, that is.

5. Rewinding Movies on Tape

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Back when VHS tapes were the only way to watch a movie in your own home, you had to go to a video store to pick out and rent movies.

And before you returned, most stores had a policy that you must rewind the entire tape before bringing it back. Otherwise, you might have to pay a fee. But, of course, those days are long gone with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, where you don't have to worry about that.

6. Using Physical Maps To Get Around

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Remember the days when your car was stuffed full of maps to help you get around your city? Today all you need is a smartphone or a GPS and you can be directed to your destination with ease.

That is until you lose cell service.

7. Cds Skipping

Personal CD player. Old portable cd player with open blue cover; cd inside,
Image Credit: Thanasit Tippawan/Shutterstock.

CDs are pretty much obsolete now that all our music can be streamed through Spotify or Apple Music or at least downloaded to a device.

The worst part about relying on CDs for your music was when they were damaged or scratched just a little and would skip.

8. Telephone Cords

Tangled in cords
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We take our wireless cell phones for granted these days.

“Getting clotheslined by a moving 12′ telephone cord was a huge problem,” shared one person.

Another person remembered having to just buy a brand-new cord when the untangling and twisting didn't work out.

9. Making Mix Tapes

Listening to music
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While making mix tapes for your high-school girlfriend was a unique experience that we can't get today, it was also incredibly stressful.

Now, all we have to do to share music with our loved ones is curate a playlist on Spotify. No taping is necessary.

10. Looking up Numbers in The Phone Book

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Nowadays we ask for someone's number and type it right into our phone, or just look the person up and contact them via social media. Back in the 90s, you had to look up information in a physical paperback phone book.

One huge problem with this was not being able to find the right number in the phone book because the person you were looking for had such a common name. 

11. Missing an Episode of Your Favorite Show

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Photo Credit: Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock.

You could not pull up a TV show you wanted and watch an episode at any time in the 90s like you can today. So instead, we had to watch the episode when it premiered. Then, if we missed it, we had to wait for ages for that episode to air again.

I am so glad we have progressed to streaming services where shows are at our fingertips.

12. Developing Photos

Developing Film
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The days of snapping high-quality photos on your phone and viewing them instantly are relatively new technology. Back in the 90s, taking casual photos meant you needed a disposable camera.

One person remembered the fear that would come, after all that time, not knowing if the photos you took would even look good in the end.

13. Talking To Friends' Parents Before Talking To Them

Displeased Old Lady
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Before everyone had cell phones and landlines ruled the world, if you wanted to talk to your friend or even your crush, there was a good chance you'd have to talk to their parents before you were able to get to the friend. 

14. Looking up Movie Times

A girl eating popcorn and watching movie in cinema on weekend.
Image Credit: Mallika Home Studio/Shutterstock.

If you wanted to know the time for a particular movie at the theater, you either had to look it up in your local newspaper, or call Moviefone to see when the newest releases would be playing near you.

15. Watching The TV Guide Channel

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To figure out when your favorite show would be one, you could always watch the never-ending TV Guide Channel. 

One user also remembers getting caught just watching the channel over and over again without even realizing it. 

16. Rationing Texts

flip phone
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

In the early days of texting and instant messaging on phones, a lot of people didn't have unlimited texting. While this may have been more popular in the early 2000s, many people remember the days when you'd ration your text messages in case something major came up, or just to talk to your crush. 

17. Downloading To Floppy Disks

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Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

With everything being saved into the cloud nowadays, we might have forgotten about the days when we'd have to save documents, photos, and information onto floppy disks. Hey, your parents might still have some lying around your house.

18. Carrying Change for Phone Calls

phone booth
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Before everyone had cell phones, if you wanted to make a call while you were out and about, you'd have to bring change with you in order to place that call. 

19. Playing Multiplayer Games in The Same Room

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If you wanted to play a video with your best friend, the easiest and probably your only way was to have them come over, or you head to their house and play the game in the same room. Remember this is before online gaming was big, so you couldn't just call them and ask them to hop online.

20. Not Knowing The Answer Right Away

Google Search Results
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Nowadays, we rely on Google to tell us the answers to the questions we don't know. Back in the 90s, if you didn't know the answer, and everyone you were with didn't know the answer, there was a good chance you never found out (or you had to wait till you were home and had access to a computer again).

Source: Reddit.

Maya (she/they) is a queer entertainment and culture journalist. They cover interviews, reviews, roundups, news, and more. She loves horror, history, and creativity. They hope their writing both entertains readers and inspires them to think critically. Her favorite pastimes include needle felting, gaming, and drawing.