It still feels like yesterday when I would sit in my dad’s chair, turn on the computer, and wait for the dial-up internet to kick in. It always tested my patience but with every bleep and bloop it churned out, my excitement grew as it meant that I was one step closer to feeding my very hungry Neopet. Even now when I hear a terrible screeching noise, I am reminded of simpler days and old tech sounds which are long gone.

Want to share in my nostalgia? Here are 9 tech sounds from your past that will be sure to leave you yearning for the good ol’ days…

1. AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), 1997

Long before we humans were accustomed to the use of WhatsApp and SnapChat, there existed a computer program known as AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Known for its real-time communication among registered users, AIM gained a lot of popularity in the late 1990s to the late 2000s and people grew familiar with the voice of Elwood Edwards saying, “You’ve Got Mail”, along with the program’s many other notification sounds. But with the creation of social media services, like Facebook, AIM saw a rapid decline in its usage. Well, there goes the sound of the AIM Mail Man fading into the unknown.

2. Rotary Phone, 1904

The rotary phone was introduced back in the early 1900s. Known for its dial wheel at the front, the rotary phone made a distinct swoosh-and-click sound when you moved the wheel from your desired number to the finger stopper. Although the invention of smartphones has pretty much limited the use of landlines, you can always download a rotary phone app to listen to that same nostalgic swooshing sound if that’s your thing.

3. Dial-up Internet, 1992

Ah, the infamous dial-up internet. The sounds of which is probably embedded in the minds of almost every kid from the 90s. Although it doesn’t compare to the speed of a little something we call Wi-Fi, dial-up internet was all the rage from the 80s till the early 2000s. In fact, it was definitely all the rage in my home since I did spend most of my time listening to the seeeiejecckkkekejks of the dial-up internet trying to connect so that I could resume playing Neopets and Club Penguin.

4. Typewriter, 1868

Introduced in the late 1800s, typewriters had a distinct clicking sound as one jumped from one letter to the next while they wrote a creative masterpiece or perhaps a legal document. Not to mention the loud ding as each line ended and the paper had to be pushed back. But typewriters became a part of the past in the late 1990s when computers were introduced.

However, in order to keep the sound of typewriters alive, many companies have produced typewriter keyboards that can easily be connected to your PC to give you that old time feeling. Typewriter enthusiasts, like Tom Hanks, have even developed apps like Hanx Writer to give a modern twist to what seems like an ancient invention.

5. Floppy Disk, 1967

Floppy disks, just like the dial-up internet, were a much slower device than its successor, the USB flash drive. Known for its ability to store a 2.8 MBs of data at maximum capacity compared to the technology we have at hand now, floppy disks were also quite famous for the scratchy sound they made when inserted into a computer. Though. now the sound and the device itself seems like a distant bittersweet memory, today’s generation will perhaps only know the floppy disk as a 3D modeled version of a save icon.

6. Nokia Ringtone, 1902

Nokia was one of the leading companies when it came to cell phones from the 80s until the 2000s. Their default ringtone is a sound that many millennials can still recall and reminisce about a time when people hadn’t decided that Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You would make a great ringtone. However, as smartphones from big companies like Samsung and Apple started to roll in, Nokia’s popularity saw its decline and with it, so did its once widely used ringtone. C’est La Vie, I guess.

7. Space Invaders, 1978

Quite possibly the most iconic game known to man, Space Invaders was perhaps the reason behind every 90s kid’s gaming addiction (other than Tetris of course). Manufactured and sold by a Japanese company named Taito, Space Invaders was one of the first fixed shooter games that rolled out in the market. The beloved pew-pew sound your spaceship made while it killed all the aliens can never be compared to the loud gunshots of the games available now.

8. Dot Matrix Printer, 1967

Before laser printers were the talk of the town, there existed what is called a dot matrix printer. Known for their deafening sound, dot matrix printers could tell you in an instant that your paper was jammed. Gen Z kids will never know the struggle.

9. Videocassette Recorder (VCR), 1956

I personally have a lot of fond memories of using the VCR. In fact, the first time I ever watched Scar throw Mufasa off a cliff was on a VCR (oh, spoiler alert…?). There was always something comforting about the sound it made when a cassette would go inside the VCR’s slot and the tape would start rolling. Unfortunately, the VCR saw its decline when technology like DVD Players and streaming services gained popularity. Goodbye, my old friend.

Technology has significantly changed since the childhood days of us millennial’s. So, while I will always say, “Pew pew”, when shooting my brother with my finger guns or long for the clacking of a typewriter to feel like an 18th-century novelist, the reinvention of technology is inevitable and time must go on. Perhaps Gen Z kids will look back at their own time in the future and ponder over their fond memories of playing Pokémon Go.

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  • Tayyaba Rehman

    Born and raised in Pakistan, Tayyaba completed her MPhil degree in English Literature from Kinnaird College, Lahore in 2019. She strongly believes in the humane treatment towards all animals and equality amongst humankind. She also loves listening to the same song on repeat for days, watching reruns of New Girl and spending time with her cats.