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Dec 10

Reddit talks about what it was like growing up in the 70s & 80s

Some samples from an intriguing Ask Me thread:

• No cell phone, pagers, texting, voicemail, or answering machines. If you wanted to meet up with someone, you had to call them until they were home and picked up, and then make plans. If you ended up at a party, that was usually it. No “hey I’m over at this address, swing by” or anything like that.
• No Facebook or email. Long distance calling was expensive. When I left for college, I wouldn’t hear from friends for months, unless one of us bothered to write a letter and mail it. You would just lose track of people.
• Sundays were the days to call family and friends, because rates were cheaper.
• If you went to study abroad, or if you joined the Peace Corps, you were really isolated from friends and family, pre-Internet. You might send or receive letters on very thin airmail paper, but imagine 2 years not speaking to, or seeing your friends and family, except for an occasional snapshot.
• If you ran out of film, no more pictures. You would be very selective about what to take a picture of.
• There is no film or video of me (or most of my friends) throughout our childhoods. Super-8 had died off, and VHS wasn’t yet available. I have no idea what I acted or sounded like, or how poorly I played soccer.
• You had to book all travel through a travel agent (or call the airline, but go to the airport to get the ticket).
• You could buy a plane ticket with cash and just walk onto the plane.
• If you wanted to know something, there was no Google or Wikipedia. You might be able to find out a basic fact if you had a set of encyclopedias. But most information, from important stuff to basic trivia (“who was in that movie?”) was not available unless you had a reference book or went to the library and really searched.
• if you really liked someone, as a rite of courtship you would make them a mix tape. you needed a dual-tape deck, or possibly a boom box. it had a cassette “player” on the left and a cassette “recorder” on the right. you’d put a blank tape in the recorder, and then cue up sixteen to twenty audio cassettes in the player — using the fast-forward and rewind buttons over and over until you got to the start of the song you liked on each one. you pressed the “play” button on the cassette player on the left and the “record” button on the cassette player on the right at the same time, and the blank tape would gradually get a (hissy, degraded, second- or third- generation) copy of each song added to it. 90 minute blank tapes were standard, so you had 45 minutes on each side. you only ever had a vague idea of how much space was left on the tape.
• Playgrounds were covered in wood chips. These were meant to break your fall off of the giant rusted steel playground structures that had large bolts and lugnuts sticking out everywhere. There was no such thing as soft padding anywhere. Playgrounds were made of steel, wood, and blood stains.
• Kids born in the 90s and even the early 2000s have no fucking idea what it’s like to grow up [or just live] without constant access to media and information. Their heads would explode if they had to live the first 15-20 years of their life with [at most] 14.4 access to the outside world and no cell phone.

Oh man, I’m part of that generation… even though it was the tail end, that is still somewhat depressing. I think the difference between kids growing up in my parents’ generation and my generation is nothing compared to the difference between life for my generation and the next (i.e. the kids who were born just after the turn of the century).

One of my childhood memories: after school (year 1 or 2), I’d hang around my parents’ workplace, waiting for them to finish up for the day. I would spend the afternoon hanging out at the nearby coin-op laundry watching cigarette-smoking teenagers play a Galaga machine, climbing trees, getting ice blocks at the local milkbar, and getting into general mischief with a couple of friends. Hours of fun. And then at home I would play RPGs like Shadowkeep, Wizardry and Bard’s Tale and classics like Lode Runner, Choplifter, Dig Dug and Robotron.

  11:18pm  •  Science & Technology  •   •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)