36 Things You’ll Only Remember if You Existed Before The Internet

Do you miss the good ol' days when the internet didn't control every aspect of life? See if you can remember our list of things before internet.

We miss many experiences because we miss so much of the good old days. Yes, the world has changed a lot. We appreciate that, but we cannot help but think back to the days before the internet when playing outside was expected, when mixtapes were the height of cool, and when treehouses were still a thing. Let us take a trip down memory lane.

Let’s remember our favorite things before the internet:

36. Using an Encyclopedia to Do Your Homework

things beforeinternet encyclopedia

Doing homework or completing a paper sometimes meant a mandatory trip to the local library and pulling all their encyclopedias to find the subject you’re looking for. Your lucky day was when all the volumes of the encyclopedia set were sitting quietly on their shelves. You had what seemed like unlimited knowledge at your fingertips.

Having one source of information isn’t convincing to us today, though. We only need to type Google into our subject and find zillions of the latest articles, research papers, and interviews, all updated and trying to provide answers to our questions and issues.

It’s worth asking ourselves this: Is it better this way? With so much online information, it’s harder to know if the source is reliable and has the credentials and expertise to treat some subjects.

What do you think?

35. Passing Notes in Class

things before internet notes in class

No Whatsapp, no Messenger, no texts. We only had fumbled pieces of paper with some notes scribbled inside. This is one of the things that we often forget about before the internet, but it was a massive part of our lives.

The real challenge was getting it to your friend without drawing attention from the teacher. If your friend was on the other side of the classroom, it would become a group mission. And, oh boy, if it failed!

The “Let’s read it aloud to the whole class” was no you know what a real sign of love or friendship are. Your deepest secrets might have been exposed then.

34. Requesting Songs on the Radio and Recording Them on The Tape Recorder

things before internet radio song

Do you know what a real sign of love or friendship is? Make your friend a mixtape of their favorite songs, all patiently recorded from the radio.

You had to call your local radio station, request the song you wanted to have, and patiently wait for the music to come.

The real challenge was having enough luck to end up with a song that was remarkably free of disk jockey talk. Many of them blighted the song to say how light it was. MadIt was a different era and one of the forgotten things before the infuriating.

33. Freaking Out If Your CD Had One Tiny Scratch on It

things before internet scratch cd

Kids today may not understand how a CD player could have been, at some point, the best. GIFT. EVER. Walkman internet. But those beloved CDs also came with their share of misery.

Imagine this: you lent your friend your favorite CD to your BFF—the one with your favorite indie groups—and they gave it back to you. Gasp! And just as you inserted it into your DVD player or an accurate, it would just make a buzzing sound and… nothing. No sound, no music. A nightmare.

I remember it happening to me once. My friend convinced me that rubbing the CD with a banana peel would make it work again.

It didn’t.

32. Using Real Maps (and Compasses)

things before internet map

When was the last time you used a map? Without GPS or that blue itinerary that saved us so many times when we took the wrong exit, we would be in trouble if we had to use a physical map any time soon.

It’s a valuable skill, a Wi-Fi signal, and a thought. You never know if you’re stuck with a WiFi signal and a full phone battery. This is one of the things before the internet that would still be good to know. That would still be good to know before the internet.

31. Writing Letters, Having Penpals and Sending Fan Mails

things before internet letter post

Have a long-distance relationship or friend? Unlike today, they were not a call button away.

Showing that you cared meant writing heartfelt letters to announce the news, beautiful postcards, and fan emails to tell your celebrity crush. People often stay in contact for longer, communicating long distance during your summer vacation holidays and fan emails to inform your celebrity crush how much you love them.

Pen pals? Do you remember those? We traded them today for internet friends. While it’s much easier, this way was a massive thing before it lost its exotic touch. Reading someone’s handwriting reveals so much about their personality.

This is why hobbies like stamp collecting are popular.

30. Camping in Front of the TV, Waiting for Your Favorite cartoon or show.

Watching TV before the internet

If your favorite cartoon was at 5, you better sprint home and ensure you are in front of the TV at precisely that time. Sure, the TV breaks and commercials were annoying AF—they still are today—but you had to endure them even more than today. If you skip your favorite series, there will be no YouTube or Netflix to catch up on what you missed.

But even that was manageable. The worst was finding out that a presidential speech was broadcast instead of letting you watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Can we return to when this instance seemed like the unluckiest day?

29. Using the Phone Book

Phonebooks before internet

While we mainly use it to crush spiders today, the phone book was a staple in the “Things Before the Internet” era.

To phone your favorite restaurant, a pizza place (but you already had this one memorized anyway), other local businesses, or even a neighbor, you must go through the finely printed phone book.

Remember how excited we were when we found your family’s name in the register? Or how terrified we were when we discovered our crush’s phone and decided to call them? All of that is part of the past now.

28. Calling Your Crush and Hoping Their Parents Don’t Answer

things before internet landline

You were already panicking when looking for your crush’s number on the kitchen counter. Can you imagine if your sibling caught you? Oh, the horror! But now that the phone is ringing, you probably regret this idea.

With so many communication channels, imagining how different things were before the internet is hard. The landline was one of the few ways to contact people back then. If the landline had one advantage, it would be that if the person you called picked up the phone, it automatically meant they were home.

27. Having to Change the Tape in Your Answering Machine

answering machine tapes

Rewind, delete, tape over? The choices were hard. Remember when a message wouldn’t record when the tape ran out? Tragic!!

People don’t even call each other, so it’s unnecessary. We have to text.

26. Letters to the Editor Were One of the Few Ways to Share Your Opinion

things before internet opinions

There were no viral tweets or 280-character clashes between celebrities and political figures. Your favorite magazines didn’t have a Facebook page to comment on their last piece. Your newspaper needed a hashtag you could use to contact them.

If you wanted to confront someone or voice your opinion, you had to put in more effort and write a postal letter. But it wasn’t enough. You had to hope to make it to your favorite newspaper or magazine’s “Letters to the Editor” section for it to work.

That was way more tedious than contacting our smartphones and DMing or emailing publishing houses, magazines, or celebrities. While we love that we can reach anyone at the touch of a button, writing a letter helps people consider what they’re saying twice, something we desperately need today.

25. Watching Movies on VCR

things before internet vhs vcr childhood

Some movies were rented, others were bought, and some were borrowed, but they were always fun.

Before the plethora of Netflix movies we’re binge-watching today, there was a scarce supply of film. It generally costs quite some money to get your hands on them, especially if you’re a cinephile. But the joy of watching them with your whole family or friends was worth it.

Unless you racked up a hefty fine from Blockbuster, that was less fun.

24. Rewinding Video Tapes on The Special “Rewinder Only” Device

I’m not sure why; some say it would ruin your VCR machine, so after we watched movies, we’d stick the VHS in this dandy rewinder and let it go. Blockbuster reminded us with their quote, “Be Kind, Rewind.”

Or they would charge us a fee if we didn’t—those darn late fees too!

23. Having MS Paint as Our Favorite “Game” on the Computer

MS Paint was one of our favorite things before internet

The App Store is going with educational apps for kids, and multiplayer games like Fortnite and PUBG are all the rage.

Before that, we had fewer games and entertainment options on our computers. Carmen Sandiego indeed taught us geography and MS Paint the fine arts. Remember all those fancy fonts in MS Word, but that was it. This was one of our favorite things before the internet, even though we appreciate our current offerings.

We truly live in an age of endless entertainment.

22. Using the Newspaper to Find Jobs, Movie Times and Roommates

things before internet newspaper childhood

Before LinkedIn, Indeed, or Monster.com, people used newspapers to find jobs. Before Craigslist, people posted announcements to look for roommates. Before having your local cinema’s website at the tip of your finger, people used the newspapers to find movie schedules and weekly TV programs.

We take so many things for granted now. All of these things were much different before the internet.

21. Playing Outside

Playing outside

People today spend more time indoors than outside. Even if they go out, many stay glued to their phones.

Many of our fondest memories today involve outdoor activities, and sadly, there is always a time when kids and teenagers today are missing out on them. But there is always time to go back to some of our old habits. All it takes is to turn off our phones and computers and explore the world.

20. Having to Lift The Antenna on a Cell Phone

things before the internet cell phone

Everyone had to lift their antenna to hear anything if they outwanted any service.

If people did not, the call would constantly fail and be annoying!

19. Getting a Pen and Paper to Order Something Off a TV AD

things before the internet commercials

Before the internet, kids had to order their favorite toy or CD from a TV commercial. The commercial was usually super catchy and grabbed your attention right away.

You had to ensure that you had a pen and paper ready at all times in case you saw something you needed to have. If you missed it, you must wait until it airs again.

18. Ordering Clothes Out of a Catalog

things before the internet clothing catalogs

Before the internet, you had to look through a catalog for a new wardrobe. You had to fill out a catalog form and send it in if you wanted something.

Sometimes the clothes wouldn’t come in for weeks, even months! You would get a letter about your clothes being out of stock.

17. Getting in Touch by a Pager

things before the internet pager

Texting and messaging are now the best ways to reach someone. You had to buzz their pager if you wanted someone to call you immediately.

Once you did that, your number would pop up, initiating a phone call.

16. Being Kicked Off the Internet

things before the internet aol

People were so excited when the internet was first introduced to the world. You had to buzz their pager if you wanted someone to call you immediately. Unfortunately, there were limited ways and avenues to get online.

If you were online with a bunch of your neighbors, you could be kicked off instantly.

15. When You Had to Go to the Store and Buy a New Album

things before internet cd

When a new album comes out, we are instantly on YouTube or Spotify trying to listen.YouTube

Before the internet, staying until midnight to get your favorite CD at the mall was common.

14. Writing Fan Letters To Your Favorite Celebs

things before internet fan letters

Usually, you would get your favorite celebrity address from a magazine. You would write them fan letters. Sometimes, they would read them; other times, they didn’t.

Now, there are a million ways to contact celebrities through social media. Teens nowadays are so lucky.

13. Using the Newspaper to Read the News

things before internet newspaper

If your parents or grandparents choose newspapers over the Internet, this might explain why.

The only way to get news before the internet is through a newspaper or local news. They did not get notifications.

12. Calling People on the Phone

With the internet, there are many ways to contact it, and it is challenging for people. Each was challenging the other.was inquiring. It was difficult; you could message them, text them, tweet them, and more.

On the internet, you can only call people on the phone.

11. Fans Had to Wait to See Their Favorite Bands or Singers Perform

When you want to see your favorite band or singer perform, you can watch them on YouTube or Instagram.

Back then, you had to wait to see what they sounded like in live performances. Some people were excited, while others were disappointed.

10. Lack of Information Security

carbon copy credit care machine


When you were buying anything at a store with a credit card, an employee would make a carbon copy of it.

It would not be charged until later. Since they were making a copy, stealing your credit card information was easier!

9. Struggling to Find Music

cd store

If you had a favorite band or singer and it was challenging before the internet, you could spend hours finding their music; it wasn’t easy, and you were out of luck!

Sometimes your friends could have burned a CD for you, but you had to go from store to store to find the music you wanted!

8. Reading An Actual Book at the Library

reading books in the library

Remember libraries? Yes, they still exist, but you could spend hours there before the internet!

People would either read books or rent VHS tapes! It was a simpler time.

7. Writing By Hand

writing by hand

Although typewriters existed back then, it was more common for people to write by hand.

In schools, students would take a penmanship class. Now, it’s all about typing classes!

6. Carrying Change

carrying loose change

Do your parents or grandparents carry about a lot of change? Before the internet, you had to use a pay phone instead of a cell phone! You would buy time on a pay phone by using change.

So the more money you put in, the longer you have to talk to people!

5. Using Payphones to Get the Time



Before cell phones existed, you had to call payphone operators to check your time.

There were watches, but not everyone owned one.

4. Learning Cursive

learning cursive

Scisetti Alfio/Shutterstock

When you were in school, teachers made you learn cursive because you would “need it for the future.”

Who knew that we would barely use it in a few years?

3. Paying Your Bills With Checks

writing checks


Checks were the popular way to pay back in the day. You even had to mail it, too!

Now, people need to learn to use checks.

2. Waiting For Your Photos to Develop

old camera

Bartek Zyczynski/Shutterstock

You had to go to the store with your camera and leave your film to be developed.

Then, you would wait a day or two to see what your pictures look like from a trip, an adventure, or just great memories. from  a trip, adventure, or just great memories look like

1. Remembering Phone Numbers

talking to the phone


Before the internet, you had to dial numbers on the phone every time you wanted to talk to someone.

Now, you need to remember numbers since you can access your contacts at the touch of a button.

What experience do you miss the most in the “Things Before the Internet” era? Do you have any precious memories to share with us? Let us know! And for more reminiscing about our 90s memories, check out our next article!