Party Like It’s 1999: Retro Tech Comebacks

Retro is so hip right now.  From smartphone apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic that make your photos look old-timey, to the resurgence of the animated GIF, it seems like new is out and old is in.

What other old school Internet features that were outdated, replaced, and buried years ago should make a comeback?  Here are the raddest retro ways to retrofit your online experience.


Dialup the Awesome


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Miss that old dialup modem sound!?  You know you do.  Broadband ripped that satisfying — yet irritating — sound away from us.  But worry not!  Buy an old U.S. Robotics modem and place it on your desk as an ironic, iconic accessory.  Soon hipsters everywhere will copy your funky desk frippery.  Imagine the explosion on Etsy, when crafters begin to fashion purses, jewelry, and wacky wall art out of worn out dialup modems.


AOL CD Tins & Steampunk


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You might think you’ve gotten rid of all of those freebie AOL CDs, but they always seem to turn up when you’re cleaning out your old room or perusing a neighborhood garage sale.  And why should they go away?  Those AOL CDs defined an era — souvenirs of the ’90s Internet boom!  Remember the extra-special ones that came in those fancy tin cases?  We should celebrate the AOL CD era, steampunk-style.  As steampunk is the ultimate badass retro movement and AOL was once the most popular ISP, imagine the nerd clout that steampunk costumes forged from AOL CD tins would carry.


Ironic GeoCities Tattoos


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GeoCities, Angelfire, and Tripod used to be the best ways for laypeople to make cheesy webpages. (Fun fact: Angelfire still exists, but sadly it’s lost its former glory.)  How can we honor these titans of the ’90s Internet experience?  In something that time cannot touch!  Get a GeoCities tat to let people know that you respect the olden online days.  Choose from an array of old-style websites and have that sucker immortalized on your butt.


Chatroom Party Lingo


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Sure, chatrooms are still alive, but they’ve fallen by the wayside in the wake of things like Chatroulette, specified forums, Facebook messaging, and texting.  The good news is that there’s a way to bring chatrooms into our brave new world.  When meeting someone new at a party, ask “A/S/L?”  Include as many abbrevs in conversation as possible.  Also, to honor the Golden Age of AOL, when bringing someone a drink, shout in your best mechanical voice: “You’ve got beer!”  If the night goes well, you might soon be shouting, “You’ve got condoms!”


Beaded Mice Curtains


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Nothing made you feel truly connected to the Internet like a wired mouse.  It’s a shame that Bluetooth all but exterminated the long-tailed peripheral rodent.  The best way to recreate the wired mouse experience, killing two retro birds with one stone: Embrace the ’70s and the ’90s by hanging a beaded mice curtain in your bedroom doorway.  Privacy plus recycled technology is a surefire win.


Disclaimer:  Be sure to disconnect your modem after reading this article!  You don’t want to tie up the phone line!

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Kristen Bobst

Kristen Bobst is a grade-A comedy writer, an unstoppable sock puppeteer, and the world's foremost whimsy aficionado. She certainly believes the meaning of life really is 42; and right now Kristen is really into The Carrie Diaries. Comediva. Where the funny girls are.

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