Are you born before 1990? If so, you would have experienced life in the 1990s, when there was no smartphone, and Internet meant dial-up connections! For my teenage readers, here’s a quick look at how life in the 1990s was like

Internet has a time and is an enemy with the phone

Yes, we could either use 12 hours, 24 hours or 36 hours (if I remember correctly) of Internet PER MONTH on our bulky computer. Anything above that meant we would have to pay outrageous extra data fees. To add fuel to the fire, if someone called your house phone when you were connected to the Internet…you would be disconnected. Somewhat like a slow death, because you’ll first experience lag, then disconnection, and then the phone rang (and you’ll go: “Alamak!”).

Not all buses were air-conditioned

I think almost all public buses in Singapore are air-conditioned now. Many years ago, whenever we took a bus, we would want to sit near the windowpane not because we wanted to sleep, but because we wanted to push the windowpane away so that we could feel the wind cooling our face. Good old days when our friends would sit in front and we would fight for the wind. Whoever was stronger got the wind.

SMSing with Pagers

Think SMS belongs to the dinosaur age? Think again. We used to pick up a house phone and using it, keyed a message to a pager. You’ve no idea how cool it is to type a few sentences within seconds with a numeric keypad—without a screen. Wait, did something ask me what an SMS is?

Lee Nan Xing and Zoe Tay

They now act as uncle and auntie, but years ago, they were the unbeatable. They were the modern Qi Qiwu and Rui En. And when the only source of entertainment was TV then, everyone knew them.

9.00 p.m. was the time for mIRC

It’s 9.00 p.m.; what do you do? In the 1990s, 9.00 p.m. meant everyone log into mIRC, a chat program. Since most of us had only 36 hours of Internet a month, every hour was precious, so no one would log in to a chatroom when no one was around.

Hi. Intro pls? 15m, HKS.

If I explain what these mean, it wouldn’t be interesting. Just ask anyone who is born before 1985. I wonder where AhG1RL87 is now. She could be a mother of five, but she used to be an Ah Lian on mIRC.

Playing console games at game shops for $4 per hour

Think LAN shops are so yesterday? Think again. Before LAN shops, game shops (they sell and rent video games as well) usually had one or two televisions and game consoles outside their shops. We could pay $4 per hour to play whatever games we wanted there—with people crowding around to see what we were playing. And yes, the game consoles were retros like Sega Mega Drive, Super Nintendo…etc. Playstation? X-box? They didn’t even exist then.

It was not convenient, but still, it was fun and we survived! Do you have these experiences as well? Or more to add?

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