Aren't You Glad These Tech Things Are Defunct? We Are!
STORY: Nicholas Yong
07 September 2022
As a millennial, I’ve seen tech and gadgets evolve faster than Charmander to Charizard. I can still remember playing Prince of Persia on MS-DOS at my computer club back in the day. Just look at the graphics on PS5 games now – so lifelike sia.
While some retro games are fun for a bout of nostalgia, there's so much stuff from back in the day that should remain relics of the past. Please, tech overlords, continue to make our lives easier and better. 🙏
Here are seven tech things we’re glad are now extinct. (If we had known about Marie Kondo earlier, we would have given them a snuggle, said "thank you"... and promptly dumped the crap in the garbage - good riddance to bad rubbish!)
The mechanical mouse
The most mafan thing(s) about this gadget: The annoying ball got so dirty. The mouse also needed to be used on a mousepad or it wouldn't be accurate. You know you’re old when your first mouse was one with a rubber ball inside it, which got dirty and gummy after a while (ew). Also, you had to use a mouse pad, otherwise it wouldn't move around the screen accurately. After a few weeks, you'd have to open the mouse to clean its insides so it could move accurately again.
Our saviour(s): Microsoft released the first optical mouse in 1999, and later, Logitech sold the first laser mouse in 2004.
VHS and cassette tapes
The most mafan thing(s) about this gadget: Rewinding them. Or fast-forwarding them. Troublesome to clean. Tape could get stuck, and burst in your attempts to untangle it. Rage!
We are lumping both VHS cassettes and music cassette tapes into one as they had the same annoying problem – having to rewind them! Then, if the VCR player (which played the VHS tape) had an issue, we would have to very delicately clean the tape head with a cotton bud.
Music cassette tapes had another issue. If you wanted to listen to that specific song mid-album, you would have to rewind or fast-forward it just right 🙄. There was also the (thankfully) rare occurence of the tape getting stuck in the player and ending up looking more tragic than Tangela. (Pardon the periodic Pokémon references, I got back not long ago from the, ahem, World Championships in London.)
Our saviour(s): MP3 became the norm when Winamp became popular in 1998. Later, Apple Music, then Spotify made listening to music so much easier. And did you know? Suzanne Vega’s tune “Tom’s Diner” was the first MP3 song.
The most mafan thing(s) about this gadget: Sometimes the game wouldn't start, so you'd have to blow on the connector pins to get the dust out.
It is 1996. You come home after school wanting to play Super Mario. You slot the cartridge into the Nintendo, but it doesn’t work. So you have to pull it out, blow on the pins, and try again. Sometimes, you had to repeat this process three or four times before the game actually started working. Later in life, we learnt that blowing on the pins was bad for the cartridge, as it could corrode the connectors.
Our saviour (but not for long): Thankfully, we never had to do this once CDs became the de-facto standard in the 1990s. Speaking of CDs…
Insert Disc 2 CDs
The most mafan thing(s) about this gadget: Annoying to get up and change the disc. Also, the discs were easily misplaced.
Millennial gamers, do you recall when Final Fantasy used to come with more than one disc? So many RPGs comprised at least two discs, or even three. You know you’re old when someone asks "how does the game data carry forward from disc 1 to disc 2?" Now imagine if your sibling also played the game, and one of you misplaced a disc. All hell would break loose.
Our saviour(s): DVDs were released in 1996, and Blu-Ray discs came 10 years later. Now, you can even download your games directly into your hard drive or SD card. So... CD-what?
The most mafan thing(s) about this gadget: Slow af and expensive.
If you're a 90s kid, the moment you read this subhead, we bet you hear the sound of dial-up internet screeching in your head - that unmistakeable, annoying caterwauling just to get online and text your friend on ICQ, and later, MSN Messenger (I still remember my ICQ number btw). But webpages at the time loaded so slow, it could take minutes. Just to download an MP3, we had to wait long-long. Don't forget the bill $$$ as it used to be pay-per-use. Horrors!
Our saviour: The Singapore One national broadband network was rolled out in 1998, and we’ve never looked back since (hello 5G).
Overhead projectors (OHP)
The most mafan thing(s) about this gadget: Heavy to carry, plus had to hand-write presentations. This was a mainstay in classrooms. You had to write your presentation onto transparent sheets, and manually switch between sheets praying you didn't mess up the order. The OHP itself was heavy to lug around.
Our saviour(s): These were replaced by monitors and projectors with a VGA connector. By 2004, the introduction of HDMI made it easy to show off your fancy PowerPoint slides.
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
The most mafan thing(s) about this gadget: Tiny keyboard hard to type, small screen, interface was laggy.
I can still recall the day my dad brought back his company PDA. Wow, it was like a mini computer that could fit in my hands. But it was hard to use it for typing, and everything felt so slooow. While, um, dumbphones (not I say hor) still exist today, especially for those who want to want to escape the distractions of social media, PDAs became useless, as smartphones were able to do it all and more.
Our saviour: Smartphones are ubiquitous now, but there was a time when people thought PDAs were the future. That is, until Steve Jobs’ iconic keynote on 9 January 2007 introducing the first iPhone. The rest, like the old gadgets in this list, is history.
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