In the age of technology, it seems as though “old school” tech terms from the 1990s have been phased out. Remember AOL, ICQ, and those other acronyms you used as a kid? It seems they won’t be making a comeback anytime soon. In an age where technology is constantly changing and evolving, it’s hard to keep up with the latest trends and jargon that we see on social media. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular and “hip” terms that you’re likely to find among people in their 30s or 40s!
Table of Contents
Tech Terms from the 90s No One Uses Anymore
- AOL – AOL (America On-Line) was an early dial-up Internet Service Provider (ISP), that at the time, many people throughout North America used to connect their home computers to the Internet using phone lines. AOL offered access through its unique, reliable and easy-to-use proprietary software.
- Y2K – Also known as the millennium bug or Y2K, was a computer glitch that affected many computers worldwide around 2000 AD. It was created because most software used only two digits to identify each year (e.g., “98” instead of “1998”) which led to errors when processing dates beyond Jan 1st, 2000 AD (i.e., 01/01/00). The problem became worse when programmers wrote code without considering that 1900 isn’t a leap year and there was no such thing as Feb 30th, 1900.
- Defragging – A computer’s hard drive (or disk) is like a record used for playing music; it stores all of the information inside its grooves. When these records become “clogged” with too much data and start to skip, we must defragment them – remove all of the unnecessary junk and make them work properly again. This process typically takes place overnight and may require occasional maintenance during heavier use periods or if you tend to fill your disks to capacity often.
- Cyberphunk – A New Age Pirate – A person who downloads digital content – such as songs, movies and games – from illegal online sources such as peer-to-peer file sharing networks.
- Phreaking – A form of phone hacking in which a person uses special equipment to make free long distance calls from public phones or the specific target’s line, i.e., cellphone, home phone. Phreakers do this by exploiting a system known as Signalling System No. 7 (SS7) that routes information between different cell towers and landlines internationally.
- Publify – To publish something online, often through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit where there is a greater opportunity for exposure and feedback from an audience or community of followers.
- Palmtop – A small mobile computer with a touchscreen interface used mainly for internet browsing and emailing while on-the-go.
- Information Superhighway – A well-known phrase in American popular culture referring to the Internet and its predecessor technologies, which connect computer networks across the globe. The term was widely used in commercial contexts during the 1990s when a lot of people were buying new computers that could be attached to telephone lines and accessing online services such as AOL.
- Floppy Disk – A magnetic disk typically made from polyester or mylar on which information is stored so it can be easily transported and accessed by other computers. These disks were commonly used between 1981 and 2000 AD but have since been replaced by flash drives. Images of so called floppy disks are often used symbolically to represent old school technology.
- NuBus – Short for New-Old-Bus, a type of expansion slot that was designed by Apple and first introduced in 1984 for their Macintosh line of computers. NuBus slots were used to attach other devices such as hard drives, monitors and graphics cards.
- CD Burning – The process through which files are copied from an original source onto a recordable CD-R or CD-RW disc using special software. This can be done if one has the specific content on their computer already (e.g., music album) but may also come in handy when trying to back up important files on your machine.
- CD-ROM – A popular storage medium for digital data that works alongside the device’s hardware components to read information without any additional software required. The most common abbreviation for these discs is CD.
- RISC – Reduced Instruction Set Computer, a type of CPU that was designed to perform only the most essential types of computer instructions in order to increase processing speed and reduce power consumption. In comparison to CISC processors, RISC CPUs have simpler internal architectures which cannot be modified by users.
- ICQ – A popular instant messaging service from the 90s that allowed you to send text messages or voice calls to friends online for free over the internet. Since then, other similar services such as AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Yahoo! Messenger and Skype have been used more frequently by people today who no longer use ICQ much anymore.
This article is for those who are interested in the history of technology and also for anyone looking to learn more about current trends. It’s evident that many tech terms from the 90s have shifted into obsolescence, but there are still some that remain integral parts of our everyday lives today. Which one of these old-school tech terms do you still use? Let us know in the comments section below!