27 Skills ’90s Millennials Mastered That Are Now Outdated

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Living in the 1990s meant learning various life skills, like memorizing phone numbers or recording a hit song from the radio. However, many of these skills people learned during the '90s are officially so yesterday. We have curated a list of '90s habits that no one utilizes anymore. What are some of yours?

1. Downloading Music

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Remember Limewire? The struggle of finding a site to download pirated music is something kids today will never have to do. It must be nice, right?

2. Typing

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Learning how to type was huge before the internet-fueled generations. Typing on a typewriter with liquid paper was common… but now? Where did all those typewriters even go?

3. Memorizing TV Channel Numbers

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On-screen channel guides are a permanent fixture on our TVs today, but it wasn't always like this. In the 90s, the quickest way to navigate using your TV remote was to cut to the chase and memorize channel numbers! 

4. Learning to Burn CDs

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Once MP3 files burst onto the scene in the late 90s, mixtapes were taken to a whole new level with the introduction of CD-burning technology. As many millennials confess, their popularity in school skyrocketed once they were identified as one of the lucky few who could harness such advanced technology.

5. Texting via Predictive Text

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Today, touchscreen keyboards are present in the vast majority of smartphones. However, when physical keyboards were the norm, the quirky T9 predictive texting was all the rage. Many millennials admitted it was a skill they rocked back in the day.

6. Making a Website Using HTML

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Creating websites from scratch using only HTML programming language is a lost art. It's astonishing to look back and think of how many of my fellow high school classmates were taught HTML in school long before modern website editing apps and services existed.

7. How To Clean a Mouse Trackball

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Did you know the rubber ball inside a computer mouse must be cleaned periodically? One person noted they developed the skill of expertly cleaning out a mouse to remove any built-up gunk.  

8. Writing in Cursive

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Handwriting lessons were mandatory in most public schools, leading to an entire generation being able to write in cursive. Sadly, this skill does not translate to the modern world, as most writing is now performed on computers. Nevertheless, seeing excellent cursive writing in person still blows me away. 

9. Blowing Into Video Game Cartridges 

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Somewhere along the way, millennials told themselves that the only way to make Nintendo games work was by blowing into the game's cartridge slot. For many kids, this was considered a rite of passage. However, with the game industry quickly turning all-digital, blowing into game cartridges is an act from a lost age. 

10. Recording Songs off the Radio

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Mastering the art of hitting the record button on your stereo at the perfect time was essential to growing up in the 90s. Unfortunately, most of us ended up recording the DJ talking over the song's intro.

11. How To Play With Pogs

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Forget collecting Beanie Babies or baseball cards; POGs took the world by storm in the 90s! You were only considered a successful millennial once you mastered the art of destroying a tower of POGs with a slammer en route to collecting an impressive collection of milk caps. 

12. How to Hacky-Sack

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For a few fleeting late-teenage years, nothing was more important than learning to hacky-sack at a near-professional level — or at least a level that would impress your friends. Did having this skill translate into success later in life? No. Was it fun? You bet it was. 

13. Reading Paper Maps

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Services like Google Maps and Apple Maps exist to make navigating roads a cinch. But, if you rewind time a bit, you'll realize it was infinitely more complex before this technology. Back then, you had two options for your road trip: use an old-fashioned paper map or print out directions from the internet before you left. Both options could have been better!

14. Remembering Specific Cheat Codes for Video Games

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For many millennials, the difference between enjoying or despising a new video game was just a few button combinations that enabled some much-needed cheats. A current gamer noted that nowadays, you must remember your parents' credit card number to buy your advantages. 

15. Proper Portable CD Player Handling

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Bus rides to school were lessons in determination for young millennials. Early portable CD players were prone to skipping, and each hazardous bounce of the school bus meant a kid had to have a seriously stable grip on his CD player.

16. Writing Checks and Balancing Checkbooks

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Modern financial apps render decidedly-90s things like checks and balancing checkbooks meaningless. Most millennials say they no longer know where their physical checkbook is.

17. Doing Taxes the Old-Fashioned Way

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If you want to do your taxes, you use a computer. For people living in the 90s, however, that wasn't an option. I vividly remember my dad taking over the dining room table covered with papers and receipts as he meticulously did his taxes. It did not seem like he was having a good time.

18. Mastering MS-DOS

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This primitive computer operating system was as bare-bones as it gets, but that didn't stop an entire generation from mastering it at a young age. Many admit that they were comfortable using this now-archaic OS back in the day.

19. Rewinding VHS Cassettes

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Countless people remember how, once they finished watching a video rented from their local Blockbuster, they were required to rewind the VHS cassette before returning it. Of course, this act of kindness was intended to make it easier on the person who rented the movie after you. The world was a much kinder place back then, huh?

20. Operating a VCR

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It took considerable expertise to know how to set the clock on a VCR and successfully program it to record television shows as they aired! Only a select few had the brainpower required to accomplish this feat. 

21. Buying Cell Phone Minutes

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When cell phones became en vogue, the promise of unlimited minutes (and data!) was still at least a decade away for consumers; in the late 90s, daytime cell phone minutes had to be pre-purchased. However, millennials weren't stressed, as nighttime minutes were free!

22. Mastering the Dewey Decimal System

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If you're a millennial reading this, you're shuddering in horror. Mastering the Dewey Decimal System was the only way to get any research done for school papers in the 90s. I don't remember how it worked, and I'm not even going to Google it to refresh my memory. Some stones are better left unturned for our collective sanity. 

23. Memorizing Phone Numbers

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Since cell phone contact lists were still many years away, millennials had the unenviable task of memorizing the phone numbers of family and friends. Remarkably, some of those phone numbers have stayed in our brains permanently.

24. Finding Numbers in a Phone Book

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Speaking of phone numbers, if you didn't know your friend's number, you had no choice but to open a phone book and find the person's name you wanted to call. From there, you started praying to God your friend's name was uncommon enough that it only had one number listed for it. It was a complicated system. I'm glad those days are over!

25. Using a Rotary Phone

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Before wireless phones, rotary phones were commonly found in homes across America. Unlike modern phones, you had to manually turn a plastic or metal dialer to make calls. Rotary phones were a childhood relic that many millennials are happy to forget.

26. Loading Dot-Matrix Printer Paper

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People who never had to struggle loading paper into a dot-matrix printer have it easy. Loading new paper into a modern printer takes no effort compared to the monumental task of lining up a detachable row of holes into the spool of a dot-matrix printer. I'm having stress-related flashbacks just thinking about it. 

27. Yelling at Family Members for Internet-Related Reasons

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Before the advent of broadband internet, the only way to go online was to use the same telephone line your family used to make calls. Nobody could log on to the internet if somebody were talking on the phone, and vice versa. This led to some good-natured yelling amongst family members to “get off the phone!” constantly. 

Author: Chris Phelan

Title: Writer

Expertise: Sports, Finance, Lifestyle, Travel


Chris Phelan is an American culture writer, frequently dabbling in the travel, finance, and entertainment fields. He currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina where he is constantly amazed at the number of black bears wandering down his street on any given day. 

His work can be seen on Wealth of Geeks, NBC, Bravo, USA Network, Yahoo, and countless other online publications.