25 Skills Millennials Learned in the 90s That Are Utterly Useless Today

In the 90s, if you wanted to be a productive member of society, you needed to acquire a near-limitless number of skills. From memorizing phone numbers to perfecting the art of recording music off the radio, life was different back then! Recently, millennials met in an online discussion to uncover some of the most arcane skills they picked up in the 90s. So let's head down memory lane together! 

1. Memorizing TV Channel Numbers

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On-screen channel guides are a permanent fixture on our televisions 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! 

2. Learning to Burn CDs

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Once MP3 files burst onto the scene in the late 90s, mix tapes got 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!

3. Texting Via Predictive Text

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Today, touchscreen keyboards are present in the vast majority of smartphones. However, when physical keyboards were all the rage, the quirky T9 predictive texting was all the rage. “Texting using T9 – I was so good, I could carry on a verbal conversation with my parents without looking at what I was texting,” remembers one woman. “I wish I had some other skill that would have aged better.”

4. 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!

5. 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 man describes a particular skill he picked as a young millennial. “A lot of people apparently had no idea that the reason their mouse would drag is because the ball was covered in gunk; you had to take it out and clean it from time to time,” he explains. 

6. Writing in Cursive

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Handwriting lessons were mandatory in most public schools, leading to an entire generation 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. 

7. 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 title'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 a relic from a lost age. 

8. 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. The method could have been better, however. “No matter how careful you were, a third of the songs had the DJ talking over the intro dedicating the song to someone or repeating some random caller's apology to his beloved high school girlfriend,” explains one millennial. 

9. 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. 

10. 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. 

11. Reading Paper Maps

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Services like Google Maps and Apple Maps exist to make navigating the roads a cinch in 2023. But, if you rewind time a few decades, you'll realize it was infinitely more complex. 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!

12. 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. “Nowadays, you just have to remember your parents' credit card number to buy your advantages,” laments one current gamer. 

13. 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!

14. Writing Checks and Balancing Checkbooks

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Modern financial apps render decidedly-90s things like checks and balancing checkbooks meaningless. “I think the last time I wrote a check was about seven years ago,” confesses one millennial. “I don't even know where my checkbook is anymore.”

15. Doing Taxes the Old-Fashioned Way

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In 2023, if you want to do your taxes, you use a computer. For people living in the 90s, that wasn't an option. I have vivid memories of my dad annually taking over the dining room table that was covered with papers and receipts as he meticulously did his taxes. It did not seem like he was having a good time.

16. 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. “First time I had to use the terminal in a professional setting, I was lost and terrified of wrecking my stuff somehow,” one man explains. “Yet somehow I was comfortable using DOS when I was five.”

17. 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 since they wouldn't need to rewind the tape themself. The world was a much kinder place back then, huh?

18. Operating a VCR

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

19. 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. Millennials weren't stressed about it; nighttime minutes were free!

20. 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. 

21. 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! “I couldn't tell you the number of my girlfriends with whom I own a house,” confesses one man. “But I can tell you my childhood friend's parents' home phone number from 30 years ago.”

22. Looking Up 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!

23. 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 turn a plastic or metal dialer to make calls physically. It was a relic of childhood many millennials are happy to forget!

24. 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. 

25. 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 — which meant if somebody was talking on the phone, nobody could log on to the internet, and vice versa. This led to some good-natured yelling amongst family members to “get off the phone!” constantly. 

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.