The '90s were the golden age for me, my own personal belle epoque. It was the era of after school snacks, topsy turvy ponytails, scrunchies, dial-up internet, and AOL telling you that you've got mail. It was a beautiful time to be alive, and to be honest, it's probably my favorite time to reminisce about. Isn't it a rule of thumb that all '80s babies love to talk about the '90s? (Because we're old enough to remember it in all its glory.) We're old enough to remember AOL Instant Messenger, and all the other things every '90s girl did on the computer during the beginning of the technological age.
Whether you had a family computer and had to share time with your siblings (and fought over which screensaver you'd use) or you had a computer all to yourself, there are some universal truths about owning a computer in the '90s. Like the way that grey plastic yellowed with age, or how the screen crackled with static electricity every time you dusted it, or how your parents put time limits on your usage, because what could you possibly be doing on AOL for more than a half an hour? (Chat rooms with my friends, mom. And sometimes with fake celebrities. The pain of realizing they weren't the actual celebrity they said they were in their AOL profile was too real.) '90s gals, this one's for you.
1. Die On The Oregon Trail
Whether you drowned while fjording the river, died of scurvy, or somehow met death after breaking a limb, the Oregon Trail was cruel and unforgiving. Did anyone ever actually make it to the end of the Oregon Trail?
2. Crafting The Perfect AOL Instant Messenger Profile
Lyrics? A quote? Comic Sans? And lots of ~*this*~. Picking the perfect font color was painstaking.
3. Typing With Mario
I wasn't allowed to play real videogames, so this was as good as it got for me. Thanks to Mario, I can now type at superhuman speeds.
4. Learning With Encarta 95
Encarta 95 was not only the best way to learn random bits of history in the '90s, but it was the best way to con your parents into letting you spend more time on the computer. Yes, we kids of the '90s were crafty, and Encarta had a lot to do with it.
5. Winning A Game Of Solitaire
Look how those cards bounce. Something about playing this game on the computer rather than with actual, tangible cards, was so appealing.
6. Exploding Minesweeper
I'm not sure I ever knew how to play Minesweeper correctly, or that there were actual rules to Minesweeper, but I exploded a lot during that game. A lot.
7. Discovering Limewire
I got all of my music from the CD shop downtown until Limewire came along. And then Limewire changed the game. The internet brought us so many things, and access to obscure pop-punk '90s music was one of them.
8. Screeching Along With The Dialup
You know, the crackling, the screeching, the beautiful sound of signing online to connect with your friends after you'd just left them at school? Sitting in your computer chair, singing along with that beautiful sound. Guilty.
9. Loading On The Clipart
Was there ever a book report complete without Clipart? Methinks not. Clipart was another '90s art form that you couldn't avoid.
10. Losing A Very Important Floppy Disk
You might think it's impossible to lose an entire floppy disk, since they're the size of Texas, but no, it's possible. Also, not labeling a floppy disk was a fatal mistake. The blue floppy has your book report on it? Oh that must be the other blue floppy disk that you left at home. The horror.
11. Choosing A Ridiculous Screensaver
Much like the backgrounds of your school photos, screensavers of the '90s were galactic and epic. Whether you had laser beams shooting in every which direction, or you went with that mindbending Windows maze, you loved that screensaver.
12. Typing Notes In Wingdings Code
When written codes weren't enough for the secrecy of your notes, you turned to Wingdings, which your friends then had to painstakingly decode (or copy/paste if you were lucky enough to have a school computer lab that would let you check your email), to get the details on your big secret.
13. Playing Purple Moon Games
Purple Moon was the company that brought us the first computer games geared specifically towards young girls, Rockett's New School, and and Secret Paths in the Forest, bringing life decisions to the screen, that you could choose and navigate. My personal favorite? Choosing Rockett's outfit for the first day of school.