Tech Gadgets and Devices that Teenagers Know Nothing about
The 90s and early 00s were a turning point for the technology sector. Look closely and you can trace tech gadgets that we can’t live without back to those early years when the technology at the time paved the wave for the future.
For teenagers in the 90s, gadgets like the Gameboy, Tamagotchi, and the Walkman, were must-have items that defined what being a teenager was like in that era. Nowadays, those specific tech gadgets are going through some sort of revival. Take the humble film camera that uses 35mm film, which produces “cool” again shots. Film photography has become so popular that it even has its own hashtag on Instagram, #FilmIsNotDead. Old-school camcorders, too, have been making a comeback with YouTubers such as Maddie Dragsbaek and Emma Chamberlain using them to document their lives despite how the cameras are at least ten years old.
All of this just shows that your chronological age doesn’t always equate to your technological age. Try this quiz and see how your ages compare to each other.
You might be familiar with the metaverse and all the virtual lands, events, and items you can buy, attend, and purchase. Before the metaverse, teenagers and young children of the 90s had virtual pets, also known as Tamagotchis.
Japanese tech company Bandai created these colourful egg-shaped devices. The objective of Tamagotchis was simple. Once you’ve hatched and nurtured your digital pet, you just have to keep it alive by feeding it, cleaning its space, and giving it loads of attention. While it might seem easy, Tamagotchis could die within a day, which meant that many kids in the 90s had to bring their virtual pets to school and risk getting caught with them. Many Tamagotchis also had keychains that allowed users to hang them on backpacks, elevating Tamagotchis to statement accessorizing pieces.
In 2017, limited edition Tamagotchis were released to commemorate the product’s 20th anniversary. The 20th-anniversary edition was smaller and some found that the smaller screen limited the sort of interactions you could have with your virtual pet. According to Bandai, more than 83 million Tamagotchi units were sold as of March 2021.
2. Walkmans and Discmans
In the 70s, the original Walkman was a portable cassette player created by Sony. Since then, Sony has expanded the Walkman line to include multiple mobile audio gadgets it’s made. For compact discs, Sony branded them Discmans instead.
Before iTunes or Spotify, teenagers in the 90s needed to carefully consider purchasing CDs of their favourite artists to load onto their beloved Discman CD player. As with most tech gadgets of the 90s, the Walkmans and Discmans weren’t perfect and often had issues that resulted in skipped songs and buffering. Following complaints, Sony introduced an electronic skip protection button that prevented this.
Thankfully, teenagers and kids now don’t have to worry about this when listening to music on their smartphones. While Sony has ceased production of their original line of Walkmans and Discmans, you might still be able to find some on Amazon or eBay.
3. Nintendo Game Boy
Love your Nintendo Switch, Sony Playstation, or Xbox? You’ve got the Nintendo Game Boy to thank for the existence of these gaming consoles. The Game Boy was first introduced in 1989 in Japan and was sold as a standalone product or bundled with games such as Super Mario and Tetris. Despite its small size, the Game Boy was a hit for its durability and long battery life.
In recent years, this portable and no-frills gaming device started finding itself in the palms of millennials and baby boomers once again. They’re primarily a hit with those who used to own one in the past and love the simplicity of the 8-bit graphic. Production of Game Boys ceased in 2003.
Avid gamers in the 90s will remember the anxiety and stress of having to blow the bottom of their Pokémon and Zelda game cartridges to get them working again.
4. Password Journal
Mattel’s Password Journal was one of the most sought-after tech gadgets for pre-teens and the like back in the 90s. Unlike traditional journals, Mattel’s baby pink edition has voice recognition capabilities that only opened when its original owner spoke to it. In some ways, the Password Journal was ahead of its time, considering how voice recognition technology wasn’t as developed in the past. Several other companies, like VTech, have created their versions of the password journal following Mattel’s success.
These days, voice recognition technology can be found in literally any gadget. Smart home devices such as Google’s Nest Home and Amazon’s Alexa all rely on voice recognition to give users a more personalized experience.
5. Floppy Disk
Before Google Drive and other cloud computing services were a thing, there was the humble floppy disk. Available in multiple colours, floppy disks were the ultimate storage device of choice for teenagers in the 90s. Teenagers often use floppy disks to hand in school assignments, so they were often sold in bundles. IBM invested in the first few floppy disks before brands like 3M, Imation, and Verbatim came into the scene.
Unfortunately, because they didn’t have a lot of storage space, floppy disks were eventually replaced by external thumb drives and other USB storage devices. The average floppy disk had about 800KB to 2.8MB worth of storage space, which is minuscule compared to what external storage devices can do now.
These days, almost everyone relies on some sort of cloud storage device system to share and keep important documents for work and personal purposes.
Looking through the list, it’s clear that technology gadgets from the past have, in some way or form, served as inspiration for some of our favourite gadgets of today. Technology is constantly evolving, and it’s also why it’s one of the most exciting industries to work in or be a part of. It’s only one of the reasons why it’s completely understandable that keeping up with the trends brought on by technology can be overwhelming.
If you’re feeling a little bit nostalgic and want to potentially purchase any of the products shown above, most online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy have versions of these retro gadgets.