Born in 1986, I grew up as a 90s child, and I have fond memories growing up in that time period. Below are some of the things that refresh my mind the greatest. Hopefully, they put a smile on your face as they do mine.
In Video Games:
Everyone who had a Sega back then remembers this iconic sound and it will forever be a memory of joy for me when I played games like Sonic the Hedgehog. I miss those days.
2. Finish Him!
Was there nothing more satisfying than the sound of "Finish Him" that came flashing on the screen while playing Mortal Kombat? The only thing that was frustrating here was if you came up with a wimpy move to do it with.
3. Mario Down the Tubes
There are so many great sounds and songs in Mario, but this one stands out to me. The sound of Mario going down one of those green tubes and into another world is just so cool and memorable.
4. Donkey Kong Slapping Diddy in Donkey Kong Country
This was a great game, and when Diddy made the monkey sound after Donkey slapped Diddy in or when a crackling barrel was thrown, it made the game even better.
5. The Aku-Aku Mask in Crash Bandicoot
You knew that when you got one of these you not only would get temporary immunity from your enemies, but the mask made this tribal voice that you just associated with good feelings throughout the game. Whenever I think of it, it brings me back to that game and good times.
6. John Madden's Voice in Madden '92
All of the Madden games are classic, but this was the first one that I owned and hearing him say things like, "He'll feel that one in the morning" will forever be ingrained in my mind.
7. Blowing on the Nintendo Cartridges
Anyone growing up in the classic video game era knows about this. I can still hear the sound of the air hitting the bottom of the cartridge and the sound of the click as it reenters the system.
8. Playstation Startup Screen
The robotic voice that starts any game as you load your PlayStation gave me a sense of wonder and awe at the graphics that were possible in a new age of gaming.
9. Blowing up your city in SimCity
One of the best parts of SimCity was that you got to blow up the city that you designed. You could send in a tornado, flood, or in the case above, Godzilla. Most people who played this game did this at some point, and it will forever remind me of my childhood.
10. When Pablo Sanchez came to bat and you knew it was a homerun
It was nearly impossible to get Pablo Sanchez out in Backyard Baseball. This was one of those classic games that didn't need an MLB roster to enjoy (although later editions included All-Star players). And anyone who did play it, remembers this diamond in the rough player.
1. Scratch and Sniff Stickers
Perhaps the only thing more intoxicating than this as an elementary school kid in the '90s were those scented markers. We loved the teachers that gave these out, and it pushed us to get those good grades just to have one. Why not try to bring these into the high school classroom and see what happens?
2. Buying sports pencils from the pencil machine
I always thought that our high school should have a pencil machine. Kids lose pencils or don't come to school with one all the time. Why not give them an option to buy one while giving money back to the school? This is how I built up quite the collection of sports pencils as a kid. They stocked baseball, basketball, and football pencils in ours, and I think I still have them somewhere - old logos and teams included - Montreal Expos and Seattle Supersonics, for example.
3. Playing The Oregon Trail
This was, and still is, one of the greatest games ever made in my opinion. It taught kids how to plan for an adventure in the Wild West and how to think critically. It was challenging to make it all the way to Oregon when people like John came down with cholera or Mary got a broken arm or an oxen died, but you just had to keep going. I remember playing in fourth grade during free time and the class had these competitions going against each other. It was great.
4. Listening to lectures about the card catalog system
Yes, once upon a time, students learned about something called the card catalog. Our elementary school librarian took an entire day every year to instruct us on how to use it. Now all you have to do is type in what you want into the library's search engine. The hard copy cards have become a thing of the past.
5. Learning to write in cursive
I like to think that thanks to learning cursive writing, it made my handwriting neater and more precise. It also has allowed me to write fancier when the occasion calls for it, such as in a Hallmark card for whatever occasion. But with more writing being done online, schools have moved away from this, and I wish more would bring it back. I have a hard time reading a number of students' handwriting and I think if they learned cursive, this problem could be fixed.
6. Chalk on a chalkboard
Before the days of Smartboards, there were chalkboards and instead of Smartboard markers, there was colored chalk. We hated the sound of that dull piece of chalk against a grainy board or when you got called up to the board and all you had to write with was a stubble piece of chalk. It also brings you back to watching The Simpsons and remembering all of Bart Simpsons' chalkboard gags.
7. Quietly laughing after sending a note across the classroom
Sending a note had more of an intimate feel to them as you actually had to pass it to the person you wanted to talk to. You could be more creative in a note versus a text, and sometimes students might even draw pictures or write entire pages of dialogue. In junior high they had those Origami fortune tellers, which was fun for about a year.
8. Learning how to use a floppy disk
Remember these guys? I took a college course at a community college as a kid that taught us how to type on a computer and how to transfer information via a floppy disk. I thought it was so cool at the time. Eventually these morphed into CDs and USB drives and now we don't use them anymore. Will we use the Cloud forever? We'll see...
9. Not having to write down why you arrived at 15 from 5x3
I'm not a math teacher, but I do not understand the whole new math concept. If a student knows that 72+39 equals 111, why do they have to prove it? It seems like a waste of their time and the teacher's time.
10. When the roaming TV cart was the coolest technology in the school
The main technology before computers really hit schools were the roaming TV cart and projectors. And when this guy hit the classroom, you rejoiced because you knew you were going to watch some kind of movie.
In Life: 1. The sound of "You've Got Mail"
Before it was the sappy Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie, it was the sound of modern mail that we all eagerly wanted to open. It was what we itched to check before checking status updates or notifications in social media today, and it will be forever remembered for those that grew up in that time.
2. The sound of Dial-up
Who hated Dial-up? I think all hands would go up with that question, but also, it brings back a smile to a time where technology was going through growing pains. We take for granted our instant Internet access today, but we had to struggle for it then.
3. Seeing the number run across Caller ID
How cool was it that you got to see who was calling you? It felt like you instantly became part of the FBI once you got one of these little machines. Little did we know that one day we would be carrying this power around with us everywhere we went in our cellphones.
4. Hearing the Door Open and Close on AOL Instant Messenger
When you heard that door open, you got a sense of temporary excitement to see who might be signing in, and when a door closed, you felt the same temporary sadness at times knowing that your conversation was over.
5. Organizing your phone numbers in an address book
Does anyone remember these? We had one in our house that looked similar to the one above. You hand wrote the names, numbers, and addresses of people you wanted to keep in touch with and updated it accordingly with the passage of time. Like most things that run on paper, it has now become extinct.
6. Memorizing your important phone numbers
I grew up in the "Before" stage and memorized my friends' and relatives' numbers. It wasn't hard when you didn't have technology to do those things for you. When you don't have a calculator to tell you an answer, you figure it out on your own. The same went for phone numbers.
7. Using a phone book
Every house needed a phone book. How else were you going to order a pizza or find a good repair man? I thought it funny when we still got one delivered to our house this past year. I'm surprised they still make them.
8. Knocking on friend's doors
Yes, this was the main way that kids used to hang out with kids. We didn't stay in the house and text or play video games all day. We went to someone's house, asked if so and so was home, and played outside all day long. I'd like to think that kids still do this, but I'm not going to hold my breath.
9. Talking on the phone
Ah yes, person to person communication. A phone used to be just for making calls. And in a lot of ways, that was better. You had to really work up your nerve to call that girl you liked and learn to talk to people. You had to make sure you had your calling card or change on you for payphones and make sure that you put the cordless phone back in the charger so you could use it later.
10. Visiting your local Blockbuster or Hollywood Video
It's so easy to watch a movie now. Like most things - buying something, eating, or even grocery shopping, you never have to leave the house anymore. But shopping for a movie used to be an experience. You got a chance to browse from several films that sparked your interest, and I remember bargaining with the parents on which one would go home for the night.
In Toys: 1. Hey, you sunk my battleship!
The 90s version of this game reinvigorated it. It was one of those games that will forever live on no matter what generation you live in, and is one of the premier board games ever to be released.
2. Stacking up hundreds of Army Men only to knock them down
The inclusion of the Army Men characters is one of my favorite parts of the Toy Story series. I played countless hours engaged in all-out combat with these little plastic figures, staging wars between the green and tan men. When you have an imagination, anything is possible.
3. Racing Hot Wheels on tracks
My friend had a number of Hot Wheels tracks and we had some pretty mean races. I collected my fair share of Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, and I hope kids still play with stuff like this. I worry that toys have turned too electronic and kids are getting away from plain, old basic fun.
4. Is it Sam with glasses?
Guess Who was one of the simplest games, but also one of the most fun. I could play three or four of these games in a row and not be bored by it. The same went for (depending on the age) Don't Break the Ice, Candyland, Trivia Pursuit, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Sorry, Trouble, Operation, and Kerplunk. As I got older, the games became more advanced, but I have fond memories playing these games with family and friends.
5. Building Lego sets that are now retired like Pirates, Space, Wild West, or Medieval sets
Lego System was the era of general sets that didn't contain themes taken from the movies Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, or Lord of the Rings movies. While those newer sets are amazing, the basic classic sets have a wonderful simplicity to them that made my childhood all the more special.
6. Playing Gi Joes
Gi Joes were great because not only did they come with several weapons and gear, but there were vehicles and forts that you could set up. Not to mention, there was a cool cartoon that I would watch in the mornings along with it.
7. Slamming Pogs
Pogs were popular for a brief but wonderful period growing up. I even had a Pog maker, which allowed you to cut out any paper image and make it into a Pog. I was obsessed with doing this and made as many Pogs this way as I could.
8. Collecting Baseball Cards
Baseball cards used to be a hot commodity. I recall two baseball card stores that I would frequent. One was within blocks of my house and the other was a few towns over. I loved going there, taking in the smell of all the new and vintage cards and seeing what I could pick out for that day. I would organize my cards into binders and read all the stats of the players. I really got to know all the different teams this way.
9. Trading Pokemon Cards
Pokemon was all the rage in both Gameboy and in cards. Not only did I play and beat Pokemon Red, Blue and Yellow, but I also collected a number of cards. My brother and I would compare the cards we had, and even though I never played the trading card games, I liked trying to catch em' all.
10. Any 1990s Toy Commercial
The commercials for '90s toys just seemed cooler than today's. It really made you want to ask your mom or dad for a Crossfire or a Creepy Crawlers. I unfortunately sold my Crossfire on Ebay not that long ago, and I wished that I would have kept it. But I guess you can't hold on to everything.
So that's just a preview of the wonderful memories growing up in that era. There have been a lot of great technological and societal changes since then, but along the way, we have lost some of the simplicity and human communication that went with it. We must remember to not lose our touch with humanity as the world becomes continuously more reliant on technology.