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10 Tech Relics I’ll Have to Explain to My Kids

VHS, floppy disks, cassettes and more

By Jeanette Issa |

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  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids


    Sifting through boxes of old VHS tapes (which I refuse to get rid of despite my husband’s pleading) produces an emotional swell of nostalgia that leaves me in a conflicted state of inaction. “Fine,” my husband says, “but you’re gonna be the one to explain VHS to our kids.” The notion of having to explain to my kids something that had been such a huge presence in my childhood as though it were some kind of ancient relic had never really occurred to me before. Not one to back down from a challenge, I decided to get a head start on composing those explanations for when my future kids start questioning these objects of my past …

  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids

    Floppy disks

    Floppy disks

    As the great-great-grandfather of USB flash drives, this flexible, magnetic storage medium was like a magical technological handbag that the first generation of home computer users could use to store all their data, but you, my dear children, are probably more likely to see them "upcycled" into handmade pencil holders, notepads, and coasters by nostalgic crafters on Etsy.

  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids

    Dial-up Internet

    Dial-up Internet

    EEEEEEEER! EEEEEEEEER! Thanks to broadband, you will never hear the ear-piercing screech of dial-up, nor will you have to bide your time reading magazines while you wait for a web page to sluggishly load in full, only to disappear altogether when an inconsiderate family member lifts up the telephone and severs the connection entirely. We endured the painfully slow days of dial-up so that you could later be on Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter all at once while simultaneously downloading music from iTunes and uploading digital photos to Shutterfly. You're welcome.

  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids

    Anything with a wire

    Anything with a wire Whether it was with regard to printers, headphones, video game controllers, or car phones (yep, you heard that right!), to be "wired" used to actually require wires.

  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids



    They're not called "computer shows," are they? Before laptops and, families once gathered around the ol' boob tube to watch their favorite prime-time television shows together — live. "Commercial breaks" were synonymous with "potty breaks."

  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids



    Gone are the days of being completely unreachable upon exiting your home or office thanks to the wireless leash that cell phones have attached to us. There was also no such thing as a touch screen or texting — the horror!

  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids

    Cassette tapes

    Cassette tapes

    If you wanted that new Madonna song you had just heard on the radio, you had to physically go into these archaic institutions called "music stores," hand-select a tangible album that was pre-recorded onto a reel-to-reel cassette tape, wait in line to pay a cashier for it (possibly with cash!), and then go home and insert that tape into the music player in order to listen to it. And, yes, pterodactyls soared overhead the whole while.

  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids



    Going on vacation meant taking a bag stuffed full of film, which required physically loading and unloading the film into the camera every 27 pictures or so. It also meant dropping the used film off at a kiosk in the mall for some kid with fifteen piercings to develop and then waiting a week to see if the pictures turned out akin to your expectations. Film bred patience in a person.

  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids

    Laser Discs

    Laser Discs

    Uh, ask your father. I think they were the original DVDs.

  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids



    Hardbound books made reading an experience that was tactile, collectible, sharable, and, okay, arguably environmentally unsound when compared to e-books. Now on the endangered watch list thanks to the eco-conscious, space-saving, shiny cool factors of electronic readers, books are the one object of my past that I hope stick around just a little longer than the rest!

  • 10 Tech Relics I'll Have to Explain to My Kids


    VHS Let's put it this way: there was no menu, no special features, no high definition, no scene selection. We had the fascinating ability to fast-forward, rewind, and record, and we welcomed pan-and-scan into our homes as though a cinematographer's contribution to a film was totally irrelevant and extraneous.

About Jeanette Issa


Jeanette Issa

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58 thoughts on “10 Tech Relics I’ll Have to Explain to My Kids

  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh I will miss the phrase “Be Kind Rewind.”

  2. Jessica Glassberg says:

    Yes… I will miss the phrase “Be Kind Rewind.”

  3. Courtney Beirne says:

    Never understood laser discs either!!

  4. Finchie says:

    Sad… But I’m with you. I’m never throwing out my VHS tapes. Titanic was TWO because it was too long for just one!

  5. Kendall DeWitt says:

    And with the closure of nearly all ‘video stores’– I’ll have to explain to my kids someday the excitement of weekend slumber party trips to blockbuster to wander the aisles to pick out a flick. So tragic!

  6. Flexible Mom says:

    I thought I had really arrived when my supervisor gave me a Apple IIe computer and a printer that was an “electronic typewriter”. I had to leave my little office cubicle whenever I printed, it was so loud!

  7. Ancient Mom says:

    So true! The frame of reference for the younger generation will be so different! I agree – I hope that books will not have to be explained! Great read!

  8. Kendall DeWitt says:

    Ooo another good one– the ‘mixed tape’! Our kids will never experience the thrill of receiving one as a gift and listening with anticipation– dissecting the meaning of each song choice.

  9. Anonymous says:

    And to that list may I add “Walkmans.” Revolutionized road trips with the fam. And lest anyone mock, I’d like to see an ipod pick up a radio station.

  10. zoosan says:

    Pretty soon you’ll have to explain the concept of Blockbusters and renting movies. “Oh please oh please oh please I hope they have Goonies!”

  11. Jason Frerking says:

    As a brand new parent, I realized the other day that the genius of The Clapper will never get the recognition it deserves as time marches on and voice recognition technology will be in our toasters by 2012. I will tell my my daugter tales of when clapping had an 80% chance of turning your lamp on or off, and dogs barking would unwantingly accomplish the same task 100% of the time. And then, there are all of these lost marvels.

  12. Jamie Marie Bacon says:

    I still have my old discman. I can’t wait to pull that out for the kids.

  13. beadbait says:

    I heard myself telling my 5yo son that the first iPods could only play music. His response? “They play music?”

  14. Steph says:

    Mixed tapes, books and pictures via film should never die. Don’t you miss the days of dropping off your film and waiting 1 week to see what was on that old roll of film?

  15. Anonymous says:

    I just turned 30 — I wasn’t feeling old until I read this!

  16. Jenna Moritz says:

    tee Hee

  17. Andrea says:

    Great article!

  18. Rose says:

    You know, I’m just 19 but I feel like I’m in the middle of all this… We had dial-up till I was about 13; I used floppy disks till I got my first USB when I was about 12. In 2001, we got our first DVD (Shrek, no less) and DVD player. We got rid of our landline when I was 15, the same year I got my first digital camera. This past Christmas I got a Kindle… This is a strange feeling…

  19. Kevin says:

    i Totally get what rose meant, i mean, im also 19, and i had some of those things,( even have some still),when i was 7 i used to watch scooby doo in VHS, that my father recorded at someone elses house.
    i was 12 when i got my first 64mb usb, and we didnt have a dvd(VCD) player until i was about 13.
    AND on top of all that i miss the sound the computer makes when you try(and fail)connecting to the net with a dial up..!! ^___^b awesome article by the way

  20. Karynn says:

    We just moved and got a landline (with a corded handset still equipped for rotary dialing options) so my daughter could call me when she got home from school. When she was 20 minutes late calling the first day, I called the house worried and asked why she hadn’t called me in the sternest voice possible, to which she replied in her equally annoyed voice, “Well, I was trying but this phone doesn’t have a talk button”. All I could do was laugh…

  21. kk says:

    And I remember when Nintendo first came out with the Gameboy, no color or anything,I got one for christmas and felt like I was on top of the world. Now my daughter has a full color, wireless internet activated touchscreen Nintendo WITH a camera. She would have looked at me like I was crazy if she ever got to see the throwback…. She even gawked at a 19 inch flatscreen yesterday and told me “that’s really small like I had lost my mind. I could only imagine how she would have reacted at the 5″ screen, 8 pound black and white sets my brother and I were ecstatic to recieve got one christmas… Ohhhh my I’m not even 30 yet.

  22. Jeff1982 says:

    This article includes as number 1, the 3.5 Floppy Disks. Those were not the first item to usage as storage devices. They are forgetting the actual “first generation floppies” they were bigger than the 3.5 floppy disks. They were 8 inches, 5 1/5, then the 3.5. Does anyone else remember these ?

  23. Anonymous says:

    Misspelled “hear” on #2.

  24. Rich Mcfadden says:

    lol, omg, now i feel old.. i had a comadore 64 when i was 5, atari when i was 7, my mother made my own clothes, and dont ask about the hawaiian shorts, my first computer was an apple II E. we heard music from records and 8-Tracks, out stove was the wood burning stove. dont ask about the video camera we had, just was glad when we upgraded to a RCA VHS recorder.. i look back to all these tech items and nothing will ever replace my childhood memories of my horse, the rusty nail(dont ask), a buddy bike, and if we were late for the bus we walked over i think it was 2 fields to get to school…

  25. Anonymous says:

    Before my first “boom box” I remember listening to the radio waiting for my favorite song to come on and then holding the tape player up to the radio to record! I would be so upset if my mother would walk into the room and talk and ruin my entire recording!

  26. Some Guy says:

    Only fools will stop buying books and replace them with an electronic medium that is fragile in design and susceptible to any number of naturally occurring calamities.

    Batteries eventually die. Screens eventually break and scratch. Files get corrupted and components get dirty and burn out. Lose power for a week and no more ereader.

    The day we devote all of our knowledge to the all electronic, paperless medium is the day we set ourselves up for the biggest loss of world history and culture since the Alexandria Library was burned to the ground.

  27. Hb says:

    To SOME GUY. You obviously don’t have an ereader. All your books are saved in your library on B& or amazon or you can back it up on your computer. So you would have to lose your ereader, these other companies lose their websites and your computer must crap out. Thats a lot of what ifs. I could drop my paperback book in a puddle and then it’s ruined.

  28. Dale Moore says:

    I think books will stay because of the desire to have that book reading experience mind you most people dont read anymore for pleasure so sad

  29. smiley says:

    uh….. to anonymous…. not to be mean or anything, but my ipod nano DOES pick up radio stations.
    liked this article tho. if books, real, honest to goodness books, ever die out, i will cry.

  30. Miba says:

    This person is a complete idiot! Books!? HA! Landlines? I’m never using anything but, I don’t own a cellphone. Wires? I don’t use anything but wires. I hate wireless mice and keyboards and gamepads. TVs? Seriously? I mean, seriously???

  31. Tiffany says:

    Relax, Miba, it’s just a funny little commentary on how tech replaces itself over and over again with “new and improved” updates. Or are you still using your floppy discs too?

  32. Rhonda Powers says:

    My grandkids know about most of this stuff. Add in Record Players, 33 1/3′s,45′s Vinyl records, AM radio as it was years ago. WFHG was our rock and roll station, now I think it’s country since FM stations started.

  33. Slytherin princess says:

    Oh wow. I’m 22 about to be 23 and now I feel positivly ancient. I was having a converstaion with my mom about the good old days one time, and my 15-year-old sister Kally pipes up, “Hey Crystal…what’s a cassette? What’s a VCR?”

    So then I was trying to explain how older technoglogy worked, and she looks at me and says “You’re OLD. Just like Mom.” Such an ego booster, right? She came in on the tail end of CDs, when MP3s were making their debut.

    So then I resumed talking to my mom about old-time cameras, and this time my 13-year-old sister Amy inquires, “You mean you actually had to WAIT to see if your pictures turned out or not? I thought digital ccameras have been around forever.”

    See, my first music thing-a-ma-jig was a boom box with a section to play cassettes and a section to play CDs. If I wanted recorded music, I had to put a blank tape in the cassette section and record music from the radio. If the tape broke, oh well! My first game system was a PlayStation 1, though I grew up playing my mom’s Intellivision. And of course, VCR was the big thing.

    But you know the real kicker? When the cartoons that came out in the early 90′s when I was a kid such as Dexter’s Lab are now on Boomerang along with older stuff from MY MOM’S DAY like the Flintstones and The Jetsons. And remembeing shows like Saved By The Bell/growing up on said old cartoons doesn’t help.

  34. Slytherin princess says:

    Oh yeah…forgot to mention that if real books that you can hold in your hand and fold down the pages ever die out, I will be devestated. I’m a big reader, in case you couldn’t figure that out.

  35. Rhonda Powers says:

    No we should not ,will not ever get rid of Books. With all the gadgets out there, books are still better. Yeah they can get wet, but dried out properly still readable. But the gadgets? They get wet sometimes never work again. If the power is taken out,you can still read your books. Like some others have said, if the batteries die there’s no way to charge them cause the powers out!

  36. Caroline Brimer says:

    There’s something about holding and feeling and smelling the knowledge you are about to envelop as a deliciously aromatic dish you are going to soon devour with delight and a sense of overwhelming curiosity of the next delectable course. The weight of the “archaic” book ensures the rest of our body can keep up with its mind, and therefore, its mind focus on self-improvement and a sense of purpose.

  37. Caroline Brimer says:

    I’m afraid any book lovers posterity to ourselves would be compared us Shakespeare enthusiasts…

  38. Anonymous says:

    just because something is new, its not always better– i do believe it would be a great loss not to have bookds–esp for kids because they learn tactilly for several years– and who knows how good it is to stare at a screen for many hours as you grow up — that would be a sad sad loss–not to mention the book stores–instead of a gathering place, we would all be separated in our little corners with our kindles–not reading and shopping for community–a negative switch–

  39. JJBean says:

    Do some research – ebooks are NOT eco-friendly due to a number of factors. Books are still the better option. They are a convenience, but should not be thought of as “green”

  40. JJBean says:

    Oh and I don’t think TVs are going anywhere.

  41. Momof3 says:

    The comments on here make me feel even older than I already knew I was. My first video game was a used pong console, and I was ecstatic! I had to explain to children I babysat that my favorite 45′s were not “a new kind of cd”. I had a record player that played 72′s and a couple that I could play on it even. My first computer was an Apple IIgs (it still works folks) and computer class taught me goto loops and hlin/vlin graphics :D I am not even 40 so it amuses me to have so much change in my lifetime alone and my children get upset when it takes a minute to download a song or two on their ipods.

  42. James Hartley says:

    now if only broadband was everywhere then no one would have to use dial-up (satalite internet does not count cause it has a limit to how much u can download)

  43. someone says:

    Except for we still use about 70% of these things today. TV’s, books, wires? I think we’ll still use these things for a while. Now maybe things like atari, records, things like that.

  44. meow says:

    Uh… I’m eleven, and I still watch stuff on VHS, listen to music on cassettes, watch TV, and read books. Does that make me old?

  45. shinikitty says:

    i still love reading books, and even if i have an electronic reader, i still buy my medicine books at the bookstore, and my leisure books from a second-hand store

  46. andy says:

    Laser dics. LOL!!!!

  47. Suzanne Nelson says:

    Yes, some of these things will be around for a while, but they will probably be so different by the time my baby graduates high school. I think of when I was in high school with the dial up and the bag cell phones and I’m only 29!!

  48. Rebekah Snyder says:

    heck my kids know all of these plus record players and atari.

  49. CrackedFan says:


  50. WRITER says:

    Writer here. I’m actually not familiar with CRACKED. The idea came out of a friendly tiff with my husband about whether or not we should toss our Disney VHS tapes (you know, the ones with the puffy cases) and a subsequent comment by my cousin about how frustrated his kids get when they have to watch VHS tapes at their grandparents’ house because they don’t have the patience for rewinding/fast-forwarding thanks to DVDs.

  51. Chelsea says:

    Ugh, my husband has PILES of floppy disks lying around and won’t throw them away. Sooooo annoying.

  52. kayla says:

    my grampa still has dialup when i go to his house and check email no one can be on the phone. lol its so slow i wish it was already gone!

  53. JJ5 says:

    Gee, our kids still watch VHS tapes all the time because I refuse to buy DVDs of movies we already own. BTW they also use cassette tapes too. The technology isn’t that old. Heck their video game loving friends also come over all thee time to play on our Sega.

  54. Dolores Rios says:

    LoL–we still have most of these things in our home!!!

  55. Amelia Bienstock says:

    Oh, I hope the books thing doesn’t pan out to be true. Say what you will but I love turning the pages and keeping them on a shelf as a collection. And we can’t forget writing notes in the margin!

  56. Dot says:

    In our family, we call this the “Chicken McNuggets” conversation. My sisters and I are 40, 38, 35, and 28. One day, we were talking about some of these “we remember when…” things and one of us said something about “When Chicken McNuggets were added to the menu permanently. The 3 older ones all got it and the 28-year-old said “What do you mean? McNuggets have ALWAYS been on the McDonald’s menu!”… All generation gap things are now the Chicken McNuggets moment. lol.

  57. BasicOrganizer says:

    The first computer I used on a job was an Apple MacIntosh. I did graphics on that tiny screen.
    We also have those conversations in my house with my 19 and 21 year old. Things have really changed! I can’t imagine what those conversation will be like with their kids.

  58. mampala says:

    stop and think a sec. books will biodegrade. none of the hi tech readers will. we are so brainwashed with saving the trees that we can’t see them for the tech forest. all this technology is ruining our eyesight, deepening the wrinkles around our eyes, and destroying our perspective and the ability to reason. We are more conditioned, less responsive, massively addicted, and proud of our progress. oh well….lol

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