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VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
Kids these days have it so easy...said every generation ever! For this list, we'll be looking at items that were once common for previous generations of kids and are no longer available and activities that today's young people wouldn't engage in. Our countdown includes Use a Phone Book, Develop Film, Use Dial-Up Internet, and more!

#10: Use a Phone Book

There was a time when a phone book was a sacred document for communication. Need to reach a person or a business? Just thumb through the thin pages and dial away. But phone books eventually became a giant nuisance that arrived on your doorstep every few months. With the internet and smartphones, there’s just not as much use for these books. But we still have some very fond memories of finding friends’ numbers, as well as that indescribable phone book aroma. And we occasionally want to reach for one to get in touch with friends. After all, how many phone numbers do you actually have committed to memory these days?


#9: Read a Printed Map

If you’re going to a new destination, you just need to punch the address into your phone or other GPS device. A friendly robot voice can even guide you there. This technological marvel is a miracle compared to all the map reading people used to deal with. Whenever you needed to travel somewhere new, you or someone else had to navigate illustrated routes. If you missed an exit or took a wrong turn, you might not realize it for a while. There might also be a few harsh words exchanged between you and your fellow travelers about the right way. Oh, and good luck folding them back up when you’re done. Now’s a good time to thank our GPS devices for keeping us going.



#8: Multi-Tap Texting

Sending a text message used to feel like a mini workout for your thumbs. Before smartphones and touchscreen keyboards, we had to rely on multi-tap texting. This process involved pressing our phone keys between 1-3 times just to get one letter. And we eventually got so good, we were able to send messages without even looking at our phones. At the time, young people were made fun of for abbreviating the words of our texts so much. But those who criticized text shorthand didn’t understand the struggle of typing onee message. When keyboards on phones became widespread, you better believe we were saying “OMG.”


#7: Blow Into Video Game Cartridges

Would young gamers recognize old-school cartridges at a first glance? Systems like the N64 and NES once used these instead of CDs to give us some classic games. When they weren’t working properly, we’d take a deep breath and blow into the cartridge so it was as good as new! How did this miracle work? Well, as much as we hate to ruin your childhood, it didn’t. Blowing into video game cartridges was nothing more than a placebo. Gaming giant Nintendo actually advised against it because your breath’s moisture could potentially damage the game. Removing the cartridge and reinserting it was enough. Just think of all the breath we could’ve saved if we knew that.


#6: Develop Film

These days, we know how our vacation photos will turn out the moment we take them thanks to our smartphones and digital cameras. But we miss the experience of dropping off a roll of film at our local pharmacy or grocery store and coming back an hour later with them fully developed. Or you could do it at home if you had a darkroom and knew how not to mess it up. Admittedly, we’d sometimes find that we left a thumb in front of the lens or that we forgot to turn on the flash. But for every five or 20 bad ones, we’d find ones that were ready for the photo album or suitable for framing. There are still stores like Walgreens that develop film. So, if you’ve got an old roll lying around, you might want to bring it in.


#5: Use Rotary Phones

Ever wonder why we refer to punching in a phone number as “dialing?” Because way back when, phones had rotary dials. Calling someone meant putting your index finger in the correct hole and rotating it all the way to the finger stop. And if a person had a 9 or a 0 in their number, it felt like even more of a struggle. Rotary phones were eventually overtaken by push-button dialing. Honestly, even that feels quaint compared to simply being able to ask Siri to call someone. But in terms of vintage charm, it’s hard to beat a rotary phone.


#4: Make Mixtapes

Making a mix now can be as simple as going on Spotify and dragging your songs into a playlist. But it used to be a much more complicated process. To make a mixtape, you had to find physical copies of the music you wanted and burn those songs onto a blank CD or cassette. If you didn’t have access to the originals, you had to record the tracks from the radio directly. Good luck tuning in at the right time to catch your favorite tune or the song you needed! (x-ref). And even if you caught it, you’d have to record with another device and pray that nothing interrupted it. Was the sound quality ideal? No. However, it was all worth it for the perfect mix.

#3: Watch Saturday-Morning Cartoons

Thanks to streaming services, kids can watch their favorite shows at their own convenience. But seeing many of your favorite cartoons used to mean getting up early on Saturday morning. Kids would sometimes be up before their parents. After five days of class and homework, there was no better reward than eating your favorite cereal and watching shows like “Recess” or “X-Men.” So, what happened to Saturday-morning cartoons? While certain channels still air them, making animated shows available at one time isn’t as appealing because of streaming. However, there’s no rule saying you can’t still wake up at dawn on Saturday and marathon your old favorites.



#2: Use Dial-Up Internet

Today, you can simultaneously browse the internet and carry on a phone conversation on the same device. But during the 90s and early 2000s, you had to choose between using the internet or using your home’s landline. So, let’s say you were working on a homework assignment and needed to call a friend to ask about it. You’d have to log off the internet and back on again. Are you finally talking to your crush on AIM? Well, too bad because someone else needs to use the phone. And if you wanted to sneak downstairs at night to use the family computer, you had to hope no one was woken up by the symphony of dial-up sounds. It’s safe to say we appreciate that dial up internet is no longer the only option.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Make Collect Calls
Remember 1-800-COLLECT?


Use Payphones
Before Everyone Had Cell Phones, Payphones Were Your Best Bet


Pay Tolls with Coins
We Much Prefer the Electronic Method


Read Print TV Listings
Want to Know What’s On Tonight? Check TV Guide



#1: Rent Videos From the Store

If you hear about a must-see movie that’s out of theaters, you look up what streaming service it’s on and enjoy. But once upon a time, you had to get off the couch and go down to the local video rental store. Once at your favorite Blockbuster or other retailer, you had to hope that the video you wanted wasn’t already checked out. If it was a new release and a Friday night, you were probably out of luck. But that could be a blessing in disguise. Maybe you’d encounter a movie you had never heard of that had cover art that was too good to resist. No matter what you rented, it was a common courtesy to rewind the tape back to the beginning.

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