From VHS to iPhones: How Seniors Have Experienced the Improvements in Technology
In this day and age, it’s hard to recall the time when our phones didn’t talk to us.
Rewind to the early ’90s-2000s, long, long ago. This would bring you back to the childhood days of this year’s seniors, where technology was not nearly as advanced as it is today.
Back then, “Video Home System” or VHS was a staple of entertainment. “Growing up on VCR tapes, watching a movie was a serious commitment because it took so long to rewind the tape,” said Caroline Howe ’12.
Back then, videos captured the audience of children everywhere. “I watched ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ almost twice a week,” said Howe. “I also watched the Mary Kate and Ashley series…so all of their movies about sleepovers, pool parties, and boys. I’ve seen it all.”
Today, we are lucky to have On-Demand and Netflix, but renting a movie used to be much more of a process (involving actually having to leave the house. Gasp!) “We’d rent movies at Blockbuster,” remembers math teacher, Gertrude Denton.
When they weren’t glued to the TV, many kids were lost in computer games. “When I was a wee lad, my babysitter put me on her computer to distract me when she watched her soaps,” says Johnny O’Kelly ’12.
JumpStart and Barbie computer games were only some that could occupy a kid for hours, letting them use their imagination and see immediate results. Howe remembered spending hours on Barbie games. “I was a vet one day and a spy the next,” says Howe. “Though ‘Barbie Spy’ scared me so I could only play it during the day.”
For those a bit more advanced, Club Penguin was wildly popular, along with Webkinz (the gold and white cat, black lab, and Pegasus were only three of the hundreds of adoptable pets). Though when it comes to computer games, The Sims was an unmatched time sucker—once you got that starter disk, you were hooked. Who wouldn’t love to create their own virtual family in a world where a Sim “hour” was the same as a human minute?
But for some, playing God in a virtual game of life didn’t entertain as much as increasingly popular handheld electronics. Being so portable and easy to carry along, these devices made gaming possible anywhere. “When I was in kindergarten, everyone used to play games on the Gameboy Color,” says Jake Lewis ’12.
The race between Gameboy and Nintendo would then produce Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS, etc. Today’s Xbox was preceded by Nintendo 64, PlayStation, GameCube, and even Wii. There was a learning curve for parents; science teacher, Joanne Klouda, remembers her son Peter ’12 having these games. “I didn’t like the idea that he could play with strangers from all over the world!” she says.
To no surprise, Gameboy tended to cater more heavily to young boys, and girls opted for such things as the unforgettable Tamagotchi, a digital pet that required constant attention. “I had quite a traumatizing experience with a Tamagotchi,” says Sami Schwaeber ’12, who was deemed a worthy babysitter of her best friend’s Tamagotchi while she was on vacation. “I was ready for this mission, but I ended up leaving it in my locker at school for the whole weekend, and the school was locked. The Tamagotchi died and so did my friendship. Just kidding.”
Fast-forward and technology was more than virtual pets or handheld games—middle-schoolers yearned for cell phones. But it had to be the right kind. Today you’re considered out of the loop if you don’t have an iPhone; then, Razors, enVs, and LG Chocolates were all the rage.
Schwaeber remembers being obsessed with the Razor phone. “First of all, it looked different than any other typical phone. Thin, shiny, and reflected the sun perfectly. Honestly, it was just like the iPhone back then.”
Today’s seniors live in the age of Siri, and turn to their iPhones to play games, take pictures, and listen to music. What they miss are those glory days when it was a special treat to watch a rewindable video. Says Howe, “Nothing beats the 90′s and early 2000′s. It’s a fact.”