Things That Were Common In 2002, but Not In 2022
I was looking at social media over on reddit when I stumbled across a conversation that I have with people all the time. Growing up in the crease between Generation X and Millennials, there is a bunch of us that have watched the technological world grow on the same level as seeing the invention of the wheel.
In rolling through my memories, this thread had the nostalgia rolling hardcore, remembering things we've probably all forgotten about.
Back in 2002, you had to risk ruining your computer to download "free" music. Napster was a huge thing in the early days of the internet. When it left the web for good another program stepped in to take its place. It was called Limewire and if you were coming of age during that time, it probably wrecked your family PC too... but you could pretty much download any song you wanted, at will, for free. It was the best thing since sliced bread.
Sidebar: Before you ask "What was the best thing before sliced bread?", they used to say "It's the best thing since bagged bread." Bread was traditionally sold as a bare, whole loaf. I thought it was interesting.
Most people hear or think about Limewire and instantly think "Oh yeah, that's where mp3s came from back in the day" but that's not the end of the story.
I can remember sitting there waiting on a song to be downloaded. It could take from fifteen minutes to a couple of hours for a file that was under 4MB. These were crazy times.
Even after you downloaded your song, you had to have a way to play it. Mp3 players weren't really a thing quite yet, so most people would burn their mp3s on a CD and hoped it played in their deck later.
That was another interesting milestone in the technology of twenty years ago, the writeable compact disk.
In 2002, if you were willing to pay for the upgrade, your computer could have a CD burner in place of the standard CD-ROM. It was an expensive upgrade at first too, like a few hundred extra dollars. It's one of those trends that kept recycling itself too.
DVD burners became popular around 2005 and Blu-Ray burners were the last hurrah of disk drives around 2010. Nowadays, you have to special order any type of compact disk drive. Then again, the idea of downloading movies to watch is simplified by streaming tech, killing any need for the average person to have a burner.
There was a short-lived trend of "re-writeable CD's," which were great for data but really glitchy when it came to music and media files. I reckon the disks were fine, it was probably the standard old CD players people had that never caught the blame.
Add in how the culture in 2002 was surrounded by the tech of that day, most people were surrounded by CD's and DVD's. I still have a huge box full of nothing but DVD movies I haven't opened in the better part of a decade. It might come in handy when the internet goes out, but that's a pretty rare occurrence in my home anymore.
I'll admit something to you... I still haven't unpacked the boxes I last packed up when I moved out for the first time in 2003. Literally. It's like I have a nineteen-year-old time capsule that I know is full of zip-up binders jam-packed with bootleg CD's and most likely a ton of slim, colorful jewel cases. It is the box I packed full of stuff that stayed stacked up on my college computer desk.
Are you old enough to remember what TVs looked like back then? They were square and made mostly of glass. A twenty-inch TV was big, 36-inch TVs were for the rich, and "big screen" TVs were five feet tall, four feet wide, and two feet deep... Every TV weighed hundreds of pounds. They were so hard to move around, most entertainment centers were on wheels. They also projected entertainment with the clarity of a potato.
If you were around in those days at the same 18-21-year-old period of time, odds are you had a similar setup. Racks full of compact disks and DVDs... It's just how everything was.
To add insult to injury, if you were to walk outside and open the door to the vehicle you drove at that time, you'd most likely have at least two of those sun visor CD keepers full of the stuff you liked to listen to back then. I had discs from Lynyrd Skynyrd all the way to Chumbawumba and I played every single one of them. I bet I have a few of those old visor things in that box too.
At this point, what's the point in opening the box? We literally have every song ever recorded at our fingertips with the smartphone in our pocket.
It's crazy to think the jump from records to tape took about seventy years. The jump from tape to CD took about twenty-five. The jump from CD's to digital too less than twenty. Having digital files like mp3's and wav's only lasted about five years prior to and just after the turn of the 21st century, and the entire idea of "having" music disappeared within two years of the first smartphone that provided the new technology of streaming.
One day we'll all be old and young people will ask us what it was like to live like cavemen, having to haul music around just to listen to it. I hope I can still remember the details when that time comes.
Next time we get nostalgic, we'll have to go over at-home movies, the legendary VCR, record-sized laser discs, and how technologies trajectory is just an endless loop of the same old stuff. Seriously, cassettes sell more units that CDs now... It's a retro trend.