Out of Date: 23 Skills from the 90s That Are Now Completely Irrelevant

Though the 90s are now 24 years in the past, those who experienced that era gained particular skills. However, only a subset of those abilities remain relevant in 2023. An internet survey recently asked, “What skill did you acquire in the 90s that you no longer use?” Here are the top 23 answers.

Memorizing Phone Numbers

Memorizing Phone Numbers
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“Everyone just saves contacts on their phone these days.”

“I couldn’t tell you my girlfriend’s number. But I can tell you my childhood friend’s parent’s home phone number from 30 years ago.”

Texting Using T9

Texting Using T9
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“I was so good. I could converse verbally with my parents without looking at what I was texting. I wish I had some other skill that would have aged better.”

“I’m way quicker with the T9 than on the iPhone.”

Burning CDs

Burning CDs
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“I was the first in my class who learned how to do it and had a computer capable of doing it. Oh, what a brief and shining moment of popularity…”

“Burned CDs don’t last long. That resist breaks down after a while and corrupts your data. The blank cd is a plastic disk with a photoresist coating sensitive to the light used on a CD writer. The backing is a reflective coating to help read the marks made by the process. Regular CDs, however, are injection molded plastic that lasts much longer than blank CDs.”

Memorizing the TV Channels

Memorizing the TV Channels
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“In a strange way streaming and being able to pick out whatever I want has had the side effect of limiting the media I am exposed to. Because of the restrictions in place from the days of cable tv and the radio, you were almost forced to try something new.”

“I still wouldn’t want to return to that slow scrolling tv guide channel on cable. I would want to see what was coming up on Nickelodeon in the next hour, get distracted because it took too long, and then wait for it to scroll through again. Ugh.”

Using a Pencil To Roll the Tape Back Into the Cassette

Using a Pencil To Roll the Tape Back Into the Cassette
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“Fingers worked too! I used my pinky.”

“Don’t forget to disassemble the cassette and splice broken magnetic tape with a tiny piece of Scotch tape.”

Using WordArt and ClipArt to Make Documents More Visually Interesting

“You know the term “clip art” comes from pre-computer newspaper printing. They used to have huge volumes of generic pictures they would cut bits from and paste together to make ads. Making books of clip art was a whole industry. TIL from a tour of a newspaper printer in the ’80s!”

“I remember having a 2-week section of some class in middle school about how to use Powerpoint. It was just clip art for days and wacky slide transitions. It was super distracting visuals if you were actually giving a speech or something.”

Reading Paper Maps

Reading Paper Maps
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“They come in handy when you’re in the middle of nowhere, and GPS doesn’t work.”

“People are confused when I tell them I don’t use a phone. I get told, “How do you know where to go without GPS?” I’m like…I look at a map and remember or write down the directions.”

Using an Encyclopedia and Dictionary When Writing Papers

Using an Encyclopedia and Dictionary When Writing Papers
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“I remember doing a project on a baseball player as a kid. I was sad when the encyclopedia only had a tiny paragraph on him.”

“During my schooling years, it went from being mandated to use at least one online source for a paper at the former part, to using a book/paper published source from the library for a paper at the latter part.”

Recording the Top 40 Songs off the Radio Onto Cassette

Recording the Top 40 Songs off the Radio Onto Cassette
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“And no matter how careful you were, a third of the songs had the DJ talking over the intro dedicating the song to someone or repeating some random caller’s apology to his beloved HS girlfriend.”

“Or calling the radio station to request a song… Then wait anxiously to hear if it will play.”

Making a Homepage With HTML

Making a Homepage With HTML
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“You are visitor number 0000273 to my page! Ah, those were earnest times.”

“Don’t forget the under-construction banner and the sirens.”

How To Clean a Mouse Ball

How To Clean a Mouse Ball
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“A lot of people apparently had no idea that their mouse would drag because the ball was covered in gunk. You had to take it out and clean it occasionally.”

“More importantly, you had to scrape the gunk off the wheels the ball rolled against.”

Buffing the Scratches Out of CDs

Buffing the Scratches Out of CDs
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“Toothpaste was a lifesaver.”

“I continue to rescue audiobooks from the library with this skill.”

How To Keep My Tamagotchi Alive

How To Keep My Tamagotchi Alive
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“I got one for Christmas but have yet to open it. I don’t know if I can take the responsibility on top of my adult obligations.”

“Every morning: resetting Tamagotchi and telling my friends “wow, it’s still alive!””

Learning How To Program the VCR To Start and Stop Recording a Show at a Predetermined Time

Learning How To Program the VCR To Start and Stop Recording a Show at a Predetermined Time
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“My parents thought I was a genius when I did this for them a few times.”

“Make sure you start it a few minutes early and end it a few minutes late, just in case.”

How To Operate and Maintain Floppy Disks

How To Operate and Maintain Floppy Disks
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“The boxes and boxes full of old floppies, all in those long beige containers.”

“Those things need maintenance? Lol, I was there and never knew that.”

Blowing on Video Game Cartridges To Make Them Work

Blowing on Video Game Cartridges To Make Them Work
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“I don’t care what you say. That totally worked.”

“Interestingly enough, it was never the blowing that made it work. It was the act of removing the cartridge and putting it back in, in a slightly different position.”

Being a Travel Agent

Being a Travel Agent
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“A guy at my church is a travel agent with about 30 years of experience and knows every travel trick ever written. He books his trips like 9 months out, negotiates the rate, and regularly calls to check for upgrade specials.”

“The real business is corporate travel. My company wouldn’t survive without our travel agency.”

Hacky Sack

Hacky Sack
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“Gotta rip it open carefully to remove a few beads for those sick stalls!”

“I live on an island and often take a night ferry to return home. There were very few people on my ferry home once, but there was a group of 5-7 middle-aged men playing hacky sack. Made my night.”

Making Those Little Bead Animals Out of Pony Beads

Making Those Little Bead Animals Out of Pony Beads
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“My specialty was lizards with super long tails that you’d attach a keyring to (on the nose, not the tail) and hang it from your belt loop in the front of your jeans. The tail would go down to your knee.”

“I made tons of those to sell at a holiday bazaar at my school… Did I actually make a profit? I still have a ton in storage, plus my craft box with the ribbon and beads.”

Dumping Ashtrays for Grandma

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“Making ashtrays at school to take home to your family.”

“I was my grandpa’s cigarette factory when I was 6. He had this machine that would roll five at a time and taught me how to roll darts with it for him-and no one cared because we were chilling out bonding.”

Recalling All 151 Original Pokémon in Order

Recalling All 151 Original Pokémon in Order
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“Only impressive to the other kids when I was still in school.”

“Now there’s 1010, not including alternate forms.”

That Ski Game Where the Yetti Eats You Eventually

That Ski Game Where the Yetti Eats You Eventually
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“Don’t play it. I did a couple of years ago, and it just is different. It’s better to leave the fond memories where they are.”

“I almost forgot about that game. I just got irrationally excited reading this. I loved that one and Chip’s Challenge.”

Long Division

Long Division
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“I had one teacher who let us keep a notecard for all of our algebra formulas on it. The logic was that you will never be in a real-world setting where you can’t look something up.”

“My daughter came home with long division homework last week, and I realized I have completely wiped my brain of this information.”

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