FUN FRIDAY: Life in 1989

Here at the Solid Signal Blog we have staff members who remember 1989 like it was yesterday, and others who hadn’t entered kindergarten yet. It helps us keep a fresh perspective. So, the other day, we were spitballing about 30 years ago. Everyone agrees that 100 years ago the world was a very different place, but even the oldsters among us were surprised by how much things had changed since 1989. Sure, computers were coming and some old tech was on its way out, but just walking around homes or offices back then would reveal a different world.

Here are 20 ways that things were done back then:

  1. If you needed to know some obscure fact, you went the library for about an hour.
  2. If you needed to make a phone call while you were out, you used a payphone.
  3. A really big TV was 27.”
  4. If you called someone and they weren’t there, you left a message with another person.
  5. A decent computer cost $5,000 and didn’t even have a color screen.
  6. If you could get online at all (most people couldn’t) expect it to take 1-2 minutes. Just to get connected.
  7. Want to send a text message to someone across the country? Put a stamp on it and wait 2 days. Most companies didn’t even have fax in 1989.
  8. A great cable system had 25 channels. Want satellite? Build the system yourself with a 3-meter dish for about $2,500.
  9. If you could even get a movie on video it could cost up to $75. Better get in the car and drive to the video store to rent it for $5 a night.
  10. A lot of people still paid 30 cents a minute for long distance.
  11. These same people still rented their phones from the phone company. Rented!
  12. Believe it or not many executives didn’t know how to type. They dictated letters to their secretaries who took shorthand.
  13. If you took 300 pictures you had to develop all of them (took a few days) and then after paying $50+ for that, you could decide if you liked them.
  14. No such thing as a debit card. You carried cash or used a credit card. If someone ran your card, make sure to ask for the carbon so no one can use it to charge things to your account.
  15. If you needed to make a correction to a letter you wrote, you used white-out.
  16. Big paper maps. Seriously.
  17. If you wanted to know what time your friend’s flight landed you went to the airport. On the other hand you could meet him at the gate.
  18. If you were really, really tech forward your 3 pound cell phone could give you 20-30 minutes on an all-day charge. No problem, who were you calling for $3 a minute anyway?
  19. No one had Instagram, our photos just looked like that anyway.
  20. 8-bit design wasn’t retro, it was just the best we could do.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.