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 do miss many things from the good ol’ days and feel like we’re missing out on many experiences today. I mean, sure, the world came a long way and we’re thankful for it, but we can’t help but reminisce about the times when playing outside was a given, when mixtapes were the epitome of cool, and when treehouses were still a thing. Do you remember these things before the internet? Time for a walk 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 shelf. 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 into Google our subject and find zillions of the latest articles, research papers, interviews, all updated and trying to provide answers to our questions and issues.

It’s worth asking ourselves this though: is it really better this way? With so much information available online, it’s harder to know if the source is reliable and has the credentials to 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 a little note scribbled inside. This is one of the things before internet that we often forget but was such a huge part of our lives.

The real test was getting it to your friend without being caught by the teacher. If your friend was on the other side of the classroom, it became a group mission. And oh boy, if it failed!

The “Let’s read it aloud to the whole class” was a real nightmare. 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

You know what a real sign of love or friendship was? Making 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 want to have, and patiently wait for the song to come.

The real challenge was having enough luck to end up with a song that is free of the disk jockey talk. Many of them burst out at the very end of the song to say how lit it was. Madly 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. It’s was a different era and one of the forgotten things before internet. But those beloved CDs also came with their share of miseries.

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… SCRATCHED! Gasp! And just as you inserted it into your DVD player or walkman, 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 real 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 though. You never know if you’re stuck somewhere without wifi signal and full phone battery. This is one of the things before internet that would still be good to know.

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 news, beautiful postcards to give a hint of your summer vacation holidays and fan mails to tell your celebrity crushes how much you loved them.

Pen pals? Do you remember those? We traded them today for internet friends. While it’s much easier this way and people often stay in contact for longer, communicating long-distance has lost its exotic touch. Reading someone’s handwriting reveals so much about their personality.

This is why hobbies like stamp collecting was a huge thing before internet.

30.) Camping in Front of the TV Waiting for Your Favorite Cartoon/Show

Watching TV before the internet

If your favorite cartoon was at 5, you better sprint home and make sure you are in front of the TV at exactly 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 would 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 broadcasted instead of letting you watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Can we come back to the time where this instance seemed like the unluckiest day in our lives?

29.) Using the Phone Book

Phonebooks before internet

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

To phone your favorite restaurant, pizza place (but you already had this one memorized anyways) other local businesses or even a neighbor, you had to 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 were found 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 counter of the kitchen (can you imagine if your sibling caught you? Oh, the horror!). But now that the phone is ringing, you’re probably regretting this idea to begin with.

With so many communication channels these days, it’s hard to imagine how different things before internet were. 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!!

Now people don’t even call each other so it’s not even needed. We have texting.

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 didn’t have a hashtag you could use to reach out to them.

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

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

25.) Watching Movies on VCR

things before internet vhs vcr childhood

Some of the movies were rented, others were bought and some were simply borrowed, but they always were a ton of fun.

Before the plethora of Netflix movies that we’re binge-watching today, there was a scarce supply of movies. It generally cost 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 totally worth it.

Unless you racked a hefty fine from Blockbuster, of course. That was less fun.

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

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 gorging with all kinds of educational apps for kids, and multiplayer games like Fortnite and PUBG are all the rage.

Before that, we didn’t have as many games and entertainment with our computers. It’s true that Carmen Sandiego thought us geography and MS Paint the fine arts. Don’t forget about all those fancy fonts in MS Word, but that was it. Ah, this was one of our favorite things before the internet, even though we appreciate the offerings we have now.

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 the newspapers to find a job. Prior to 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 seem to be spending more time indoors than outside. Even if they do go outside, many of them stay glued on their phones.

Many of our fondest memories today involve outdoor activities, and it’s sad that kids and teenagers today are missing out on them. But it’s never too late to go back to some of our old habits. All it takes is 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

If you wanted any service at all, everyone had to lift up their antenna to hear anything.

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

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

things before the internet commercials

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

You had to make sure that you had a pen and paper ready at all times in case you saw something you NEEDED to have. If you missed it, then you would need to wait until it aired again.

18.) Ordering Clothes Out of a Catalog

things before the internet clothing catalogs

To get a new wardrobe before the internet, you had to look through a catalog. If you wanted something, you had to fill out a catalog form and send it in.

Sometimes the clothes wouldn’t come in for weeks, even months! If your clothes were out of stock, then you would get a letter about it.

17.) Getting in Touch by a Pager

things before the internet pager

Texting and messaging is now the best way to get a hold of someone. If you wanted someone to call you right away, you had to buzz their pager.

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

16.) Being Kicked Off the Internet

things before the internet aol

When the internet was first introduced to the world, people were so excited. Unfortunately, there was 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 Actually Had to Go to the Store and Buy a New Album

things before internet cd

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

Back before the internet, it was common to stay up until midnight to get your favorite CD at the mall.

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 are choosing the newspapers over the internet, this might explain why.

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

12.) Calling People on the Phone

things before internet as if

With the internet, there are many ways to get in contact with people. You can message them, text them, tweet them, and more.

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

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

things before internet concert

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, it was easier to steal your credit care information!

9.) Struggling to Find Music

cd store

If you had a favorite band or singer, and it was difficult for you to find their music, 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 want!

8.) Reading An Actual Book at the Library

reading books in the library

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

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? Well, back 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 had to talk to people!

5.) Using Payphones to Get the Time



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

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 in a few years that we would be barely using it.

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 barely use checks.

2.) Waiting For Your Photos to Develop

old camera

Bartek Zyczynski/Shutterstock

You actually 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 actually look like from a trip, adventure, or just great memories.

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 barely remember numbers since you have access to your contacts at the touch of a button.

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