The long-forgotten devices…
Growing up in the 90s had its own charm – we witnessed the gradual metamorphosis of everything around us. Be it the economy, or science and technology, or relationships or fashion or Bollywood movie – everything underwent massive change and we have been privy to all the excitement. In today’s tablet and smart phone age, let us not forget the devices which were must-haves in our lives even a few years ago.
Take for example the landline phone. They are making a quick exit from the household, being replaced by the latest cellular phones. If you can carry around your phone 24*7, why would you want to get up from the couch during the football match to answer the loudly ringing phone in another room? But whoever among the 90s generation has experienced it, will remember the landline fondly. There was a time when having a landline at home was considered luxury. One got the connection from BSNL only after months and years of waiting! Finally, when it came along with the phone number, the owners would go berserk calling up relatives, friends and foes to inform them. Arrival of one’s own landline meant no more running to the neighbour’s house in lungi and vest or maxi and dupatta to answer the call of a prospective employer or to hear news from a relative, no more queuing up in front of the public booth or requesting the kirana shop owner for his phone. It meant one could call up anybody any time from the comforts of the home and also carry the cordless phone to the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom.
Landline phones were good fun, too. People used to complain of cross-connection, but also admitted that it was fun to eavesdrop on others’ conversations. Dialling the wrong number was a not so bad experience all the time, especially if you ask the couples who had connected over such wrong numbers! For me, the best part about landline phone was the ability to make crank calls! Since not many households had the expensive Caller Identification Device, there was no way one could identify the number from where a crank call was made (of course, unless you complain to the police). We kept it at a harmless level and called up numbers chosen randomly from the fat telephone index and say all sorts of stupid, funny and annoying things. It used to be our favourite pastime whenever all friends used to gather at someone’s house. We called up both known and unknown people and pretended to be a sari shop owner to whom their wives owed money, electrician who would inform that their electric supply would be disrupted for several days, their son’s girlfriends wanting to speak to their son or their daughter’s school headmistress, complaining about their wards! Can you imagine having such fun over mobile phones?
Another device which is now extinct is the floppy disk. Those tiny black disks were my lifeline at one time, despite having betrayed me several times. They almost always stopped working every time I needed to take prints of the saved research papers. They always let me down whenever I had to transfer the content to other’s computers. Yet, life was unthinkable without them. I learnt to take good care of them to ensure they worked smoothly. In fact, I had a box full of them! With the advent of CD and pendrives, floppy disks vanished from our lives. I remember buying a pendrive with 526 MB of storage space for a thousand rupees! Now you get 8 GB or 16GB pendrive for less that amount!
Another of my favourite is the cassette, which is now an unknown commodity for today’s young. I still have a huge number of them but they do not work any more. During my school days, it was such a fad to show off how many latest cassettes you had. From film songs to pop music, from Kumar Sanu to Sonu Nigam, from devotional songs to A R Rehman songs – there were cassettes for every genre of music. There was another type of cassette which was very popular – the blank cassette. I used to own three or four of them, all laden with my favourite songs. We used to record them either from the radio or by running the songs in one music player and silently waiting till they got recorded in the blank cassette running in the other player! Amidst songs.pk, torrents, MP3 players, ipods, cd players, mobile FM radio, whoever now can imagine of such hard work just to hear one’s favourite songs?
Times have advanced; all the latest gadgets are within our reach; we can take photos from phones and watch movies in laptops; today’s devices will become tomorrow’s dinosaurs but the old will always have a fond place in some of our hearts.
What other device from your growing up days do you miss now? Add to the list in the comments space and let us remember the glorious 90s together