1. thunderbyrd
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    thunderbyrd New Member

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    how was life different in 1990?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by thunderbyrd, Apr 3, 2010.

    i'm writing a novel set in 1990. it's in a rural and small-town setting. i would really like to have anybody's observations about how the world and day to day life was different then.

    no internet, no kurt cobain, no 9-11, no LoTR movies, no Goodfellas, unicorns weren't extinct yet, whatever you can think of...
     
  2. gitamo
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    gitamo Member

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    Let me see in 1990 I was 13... and living in a small country town in Australia.

    What kind of things do you want to know? Here's a few, okay more than a few. I was having fun thinking back 20 years.

    No internet of course. We learned typing using a rudimentary "typing tutor" on a very basic computer. Atari perhaps?

    No mobile phones. People were great at making arrangements and sticking to them! Changing your mind an hour or so before the arranged time didn't happen (unless there was an emergency) because the other person would be waiting.

    Some people had answering machines at home for their home phones. There was no such thing as message bank.

    Research was done the old school way; reading the all important Encyclopedia Britannica; looking up books one by one hoping to find an important piece of information; trawling through index after index just to find a sentence or two that was relevant.

    Books were found through the Dewey Decimal System, hand written and filed on small yellow filing cards in a cabinet.

    Borrowing books meant filling in a small card kept in the back of the book and handing it to the librarian at the desk. It had your name, date borrowed and due date on it. In the book you borrowed there was a stamp list with the due date.

    Once a fortnight the "mobile library" (a big camper van with shelving and an ever changing selection of books) would arrive in town and park outside the school and a few of us kids were allowed to borrow from it. Mainly those who had read almost every book in the small school library.

    The most expensive ice cream was 80c.

    Cigarettes were $3 and the legal age was 16. Later it was raised to 18.

    One thing hasn't changed; the only fun to be had in a small country town was to get drunk.

    Poison! oh god help us Poison were huge. The older kids liked Guns and Roses.

    The Gulf War was happening. Some people thought it was the start of World War Three. Some people stockpiled food and essentials.

    The ozone layer was in the news a lot.

    DVD's hadn't come into circulation yet, at least not where I was. So we used to borrow VHS videos from the video store.

    If you wanted music you bought a CD, made a copy of someones tapes or waited anxiously in front of the radio to press 'record' when your favorite song came on.

    We all had a Walkman to play tapes. The ultimate gift of love was to make someone a mixed tape of your favorite song. If you really loved them or wanted to show how smart you were you would fade one song into another by lowering the volume of the recording by hand while it was recording, and then fading the new song in as it started recording. We were very hand with the pause button.

    Waterbeds were around. I had one. It swished a lot and if you didn't heat the water it was cold to sleep on.

    People worried about the environment but did nothing. (Not much change there!)









    I cant believe I am old enough now to be used for research about "the olden days".
     
  3. ToxicWaste
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    ToxicWaste Member

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    The internet existed, but it was a crud form of what it is today. A dial up connection was $50 a month and not 56K. For the most part personal computer use was restricted to the rich and nerdy. Email accounts were a big deal.
     
  4. Eutheria
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    Eutheria Member

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    For reference I was freshman in high school in New England in 1990.

    The cold war is still going as the Soviet Union is collapsing. USSR makes plans to leave Czechoslovakia. The Germanies make plans to reunite and do later in the year. de Klerk promised to free Nelson Mandela. UK and Argentina resumed relations for first time since Falkland Islands. Americans With Disabilities Act signed. Iraq invades Kuwait.

    First McDonalds opens in Russia. Steve Jackson Games raided by Secret Service. The Maplethorpe exhibit debuted. The Hubble Telescope was launched. Windows 3.0 released. Jim Henson died.

    Some people own computers but not everyone. Since they cost so much many people still used older ones like Macs and Apple2Es. CDs were still pretty new. I bought my first cd player and it cost several hundred dollars and was quite large. George Bush was president. Soviets finished leaving Afghanistan. Answering machines, when people had them, used cassettes. Cell phones were rare except for yuppies and were the size of cordless phones. People were still thinking about the Cold Fusion hoax, the Exxon Valdez spill, and Tiananmen Square. Game Boys and Sega Genisis were new. Pete Rose had been recently (1989) banned from the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Simpsons had become their own show instead on a segment on the Tracy Ulman Show. Northern Exposure started. MTV actually played videos including Ice Ice Baby and U Can't Touch This. Dances with Wolves won best picture. People laughed over VW's Fahrvergn├╝gen commercials. Acid washed jeans and tie dye shirts were polular. There was a neohippie subculture in reaction to the commercialism of the 80's. Flourescent colors were popular as were Scrunchies. I still have a flourescent yellow poodle themed scrunchie from this era. Short soccer shorts like Umbros were popular with teens and so were shortalls. People were sent home from school for wearing those shorts outside of gym. Nirvana did exist but were not nationally popular yet.
     
  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I was a year old when that happened. Lemme see what I remember from what people told me...

    - There were videogames. My family played with the NES (Or was it SNES?) and I remember them shooting at the screen with plastic orange guns. Later, I learned they were playing Duck Hunt. I think videogames as a whole were just beginning to grasp the concept of plotlines and character developments (The first two Legend of Zelda games were out by this time. They were Legend of Zelda and Adventures of Link). No longer was it Pacman or bouncing a ball back and forth with two bars.

    - Cell phones were nonexistant, and if they were, they were huge.

    - Computers were Apples, Ataris, that kind of stuff.

    - No internet.

    - The USSR was in decline. They were to collapse completely a year later.

    - The Gulf War was raging under the helm of President George H. W. Bush.
     
  6. gitamo
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    gitamo Member

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    Ha! Scrunchies. I loved scrunchies!

    I thought of a couple more everyday things.

    Public telephone booths were found everywhere.

    ATM cards weren't ubiquitous and you were just as likely to use a bank book, in which the teller either printed with a machine or wrote manually how much you withdrew or deposited and the balance remaining.
     
  7. thunderbyrd
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    thunderbyrd New Member

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    these are all great, folks. more! more!

    any speculations or memories of how we thought differently?
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In 1990, the web was what you cleaned out of corners with a feather duster. There was computer networking, but my "power tools" were programs like archie. Most of my research was still performed in libraries or at bookstores and magazine stands.

    I only had a couple of computers back then, and they were both desktop units. They didn't run Windows, although one of them had some windowing libraries that didn't workj very well. That computer ran MS/DOS. My other computer ran CP/M and had eight inch floppy drives. Laptop computers were beyond my means, although I had dreamed of a briefcase-sized computer in the late 1970s (if only someone could manufacture an LED array for a display - CRTs were just too bulky). But even having one computer was hardly commonplace. I was in the business, so that's why I had computers. But modems were a pain, so I rarely connected to networked computers. Most of my computing was on individual machines.

    I saw no need for a portable telephone. They weren't all that portable anyway, and I never liked telephones much anyway. Mostly, they were an unwanted interruption when I was doing something else.

    No one in the USA worried much about foreign attackers. Sure, there were some nuts out there willing to go on a killing spree, but they were mostly working for the United States Postal Service. High schools were relatively safe - Columbine hadn't happened yet, so the biggest problem was drug use. Just Say No. MTV had gone to crap, after a promising start. Music videos were giving way to stupid games. Well, that hasn't changed much since.

    But at least the Big Hair was finally out of fashion.
     
  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    omg, I can't believe we forgot this one!

    Harry Potter didn't happen yet. The biggest wizard out there were Merlin and Gandalf. And if you were the Disney type, Merlin was that wacky old dude with a talking, misanthropic owl.

    Vampires were still a respected race in the fantasy genre. Say the word "Vampire" and everyone would think Christopher Lee and/or Dracula.

    Witches were still the evil, old, moldy women who craved the beauty of young damsels and spent their time hanging about their cauldrons making potions or reanimating the dead. After Harry Potter, they because respected women with magical powers.

    The Star Wars Prequels (Episodes I, II, and III) hadn't happened yet, so no Jar-Jar Binks.

    Videos came in casset boxes, not DVDs. You could actually stop watching the VHS movies and resume right where you left off rather than having to start all over again from the Main Menu and find that exact scene.

    There was no such thing as email. People actually wrote things out by hand.

    There were actually very decent shows on TV for small kids. Looney Tunes was a big thing.

    I don't think they had closed-captioning back then, so the deaf either had to learn how to lip-read or never watch TV or movies. Sad. :(
     
  10. Fallen
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    I come from a small UK village

    Worst ten years ever -- really, really rubbish music, matching Shell Suits, early nighties invention of the 'yuppie', it was really a boring time. 70's and 80's (mining strikes, football riots etc) were more memorable.
     
  11. MsMyth71
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    MsMyth71 Senior Member

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    I remember taping the radio, putting in a cassette and hitting "record" just to catch my favorite songs.

    90's entertainment comes to mind:

    Kurt Cobain was around. Nirvana released its first album (Nevermind) in 1991.

    "In Living Color" was on television

    Nine Inch Nails were new and amazing.

    Dances with Wolves, Pretty Woman, Total Recall
     
  12. daydreams
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    daydreams Member

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    There was such a thing as the Internet, but it was not used by people in general.

    Mobile phones were huge and clunky, with no extra features, and used by the rich and important.

    PC's were not as common as today, and they usually had 386 CPU's or if you had the latest, a 486. No flatscreens.

    Hubble Space Telescope was launched

    MTV was in its best period, at least MTV Europe.

    Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Vanilla Ice, Roxette, Madonna...
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in '90 had an apple 1-piece desktop and its seminal windows... by the mid '90s i had a macintosh... by end of the decade, i'd gone over to pcs and had a dell laptop by '99...

    i had a car phone back in the mid-80s... had a better one a decade later... may have had a portable home phone then, too...

    i turned my back on the material world in '95, gave away my home and all in it, went wandering in an rv with my computer, 400-500 books from my 2,000+ volume personal library and a tv satellite dish, to study humankind... so, if you want to know any more about nearly the entire us and canada, or greece, italy, malta, cyprus, israel in that decade, just ask...
     
  14. MsMyth71
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    MsMyth71 Senior Member

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    Oh man, I miss MTV! Like, the MTV that showed videos. :)
     
  15. Ellen1212
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    Sorry to disagree, but witches were pretty much the same as they are now. The witchcraft/ wiccan era atarted in the 70s. I attended several Wiccan gatherings in the 80s, hard to believe. :)
    And there was email. I used it.
    I really don't think the world was THAT much different. I mean it was what, 20 years ago? Not exactly an eternity.
    And were vampires cool then? Anne Rice was already on her fourth novel at least.
     
  16. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Well, I WAS literally a year-old baby, so yeah, to me, it was an eterinity ago. :p
     
  17. MsMyth71
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    As someone who is non-Wiccan, the pagan/Wiccan thing has grown a lot in my eyes over the last 10-20 years - and become far more commonplace than it was back in the 90's. There were groups and gatherings, sure. When doesn't that happen? But, as someone who is (somewhat) on the outside, it's been a joy to see things evolve to where it's more accepted now.
     
  18. zaphod
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    Interesting thought-anyone care to guess what the average age is when we start to notice the world around us as children?

    I don't mean the ability to remember a favorite cartoon or video game. When did you first comprehend a serious "adult" thing?

    I was born in 1988 and while I can vaguely remember things like OJ Simpson and the Murray tower bombing as my parents would watch TV, it wasn't until I was 12 or 13 did I ever get curious and switch the channel to a cable news network by myself. I guess there were a number of major current events in 2000 and 2001, from the elections to 9/11, and as a young teen I was just starting to gain awareness of things.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I was born in 1953, and I remember the re-election campaign for Dwight D. Eisenhower ("I Like Ike") against Adlai Stevenson in 1956. So I was three years old. I'm pretty sure all the "discussion" in our household was a consensus of how awful it would be if Stevenson won, so there certainly wasn't much heated debate around me.
     
  20. thunderbyrd
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    thunderbyrd New Member

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    interesting question: i was born dec '58, probably my 1st adult world intrusion was when JFK was killed. i was five yrs old, sitting on a 5-gallon bucket beside a drum stove in the barn. my parents were processing the tobacco crop (stripping tobacco, it's called) when my dad turned the radio up and said "listen! the president's been shot". i remember asking "what is a president?"

    the next thing was when the Beatles were on ed sullivan couple months later. i couldn't understand what all those girls were screaming about.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I remember that day. I was in second grade, and the class was being let out - I don't remember whether it was for the end of the day, or a recess, or what. Some kid came running up, saying President Kennedy had been shot dead. I thought it was a terrible thing to say, so I punched him.
     
  22. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I passed the marker a while back. Not sure when.

    Born in '88? That's the year I graduated from high school, so in most southern states I could easily have been yer' pa'. :rolleyes:
     
  23. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    Writers used typewriters. Instead of "cut and paste" they had a little bottle of white paint called "liquid paper" or "white out" that they'd paint over words and then retype.

    Power windows were relatively new. Most people cranked down their car windows with little spinning cranks.

    Some people listened to CDs. Others stubbornly stuck to their cassette tapes and records. People rented VHS tapes, but there were no DVDs.

    1st Iraq war ("Operation Desert Storm") after Saddam Hussein invades Kuwait.

    Charlie

    Edit: I just thought of a good one.

    In 1990 and earlier, I knew older old people who are now long dead, who told me stories about times that few people alive remember.

    I used to know a man who told me about the days around the turn of the 20th century when there were no automobiles. He told me how, when he was a boy, there were horse-driven carriages driving down the streets, and once in a very rare while, he'd see a car, and then, all of a sudden, cars were everywhere.

    My own great-aunt was still alive, as well as my grandmother, and they could tell me stories about the Great Depression and World War II.

    Such people are very hard to find now.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i was born in 1938 and can remember small things from the age of 3 or so... but know i was aware of 'the world' by age 5-6, since i vividly recall being bullied by some older kid, for saying i was [or wasn't?] 'for' dewey, in 1944... my 6th b'day would have been a couple of months before the election...
     
  25. MsMyth71
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    I had one of those NEAT typewriters that had a little window on the front panel that was digital. And you could type like a sentence at a time, then have it print for you (and save it as well)!

    I thought I was the coolest person on the planet, too.
     

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