What Do You Miss About The Old Days Of Computing?

We have the internet in our pocket, and it runs on a tiny rectangular computer with more power and a higher-resolution screen than anything we could buy 25 years ago. But despite all these powerful machines no larger than a bar of soap, some things were better in the old days. What do you miss?

Picture: Alan Light/Flickr


    Building a computer from parts from the computer fair and saving money.

    Computer LANs with Unreal Tournament, Quake III, Battlefield 1942, Desert Combat and Wolfenstein ET.

      I still play UT, Q3, and WolfET occasionally. My friends and I some times have "old-school" LANs where we only play games that are at least 5 years old. AOE2 is another one we've been playing more recently, since the HD version was release.

    The TURBO button :)

      THIS!! :)

      As a kid I could never wrap my head around the idea that there was a button like this at all. I mean, if there was a 'GO FASTER' button on your car, you'd just leave it on all the time, right? Why even have a button? lol

        Assuming you know now, but it was to under clock the CPU, as some programs (think games) relied on clock speed to match frame rates.

          Close, but the Turbo button was originally developed for floppy drives which could only be accessed when the CPU was running at 4.77MHz.

            Actually thrillhouse is correct. While I won't say you're incorrect with the floppy drive comment, I've also never ever heard of that before....ever.

    Users made an effort to learn how to do things, Now we have a generation of users who are simply not interested in learning how to build a spreadsheet or other structured document. I have office juniors who have "apps" to do specific tasks but are completely at a loss at how to crunch numbers themselves, and any training is forgotten as soon as they exit the class.

      Yep, i remember when it was a side competition to see who could squeeze the most out if the 640k ram work area by loading as much as you can into expandable ram above 640k by using Qemm.

      Oooo, let's not forget Xtree Gold! Also Norton Ghost used to actually work well. Disk nibbler!

      Last edited 14/07/13 9:27 am

        Ah the days of Quarterdeck.... but I don't miss endless edits of config.sys and rewriting DOS modules to that could be swapped into "upper" memory. Even with supposedly an office full of "identical" machines, I could never get the same memory swap reliability on all of them.

        +1 for Qmem and XtreeGold. Wow that brings back some memories of the early 90s!

        Changing boot config batch files (extra HiMem etc) to play Wing Commander!
        The internet before it had visual browsers (Gopher and Archie etc).

        Good Ol' Bootdisks, I used to have one (Before I knew better) that would allow Xwing to run with full WaveSound support only once out of 6-7 bootups. Used to sit there with my eyes shut and the fingers crossed wishing it would work just this time!!!
        Dos4gw came about and they became less important but I do remember finally making an uber boot config in Tafe that handled Sound/CD-Rom and still gave like 610k of Conventional memory, by then it was only a exercise in "Because we can!"

    an "off" button that actually turns the PC off [not wait a few seconds and I'll think about turning off].
    Of course, the Bastard Operator From Hell advised people to jiggle the switch about 30 times, which produced enough transients to destroy the supply - ah yes, the good old days.

    The Space Cadet pinball game on Windows XP... and tbh, things have changed for the better but these days we expect to find everything on the internet and sometimes forget to look at books.

    I miss the cool noises that the very early HDD's made. And the simplicity of creating programs in BASIC on my BBC Micro.

    I miss the days when Microsoft understood the concept of the GUI and their own windows paradigm. When application interfaces were consistent between all applications. buttons were consistently named and placed, nothing was hidden unless you turned it off,

      The same reasons that gave us toolbar hell, and made things impossible to find due to the vast amount of options having to be shown all the time. Which was due to ui layout logic bent on showing everything at once and having no relevance to what the user was actually doing. yeah I miss those days.

    the tractor feed dot matrix printer that would always missfeed & you could hear through the whole house, and on my first PC the media storage device, the cassette recorder which was soon upgraded to an external floppy disc drive(when floppy discs were actually floppy)

    2.88MB format 3.5inch floppy disks that were actually not floppy at all!

      Extended Density disks. Damn, lucky. I only had the 1.44MB Singles.

    Absolutely nothing.
    I don't miss having to press play on the cassette, and then going for a meal, to come back and find it didn't load properly.
    Not having to tweak a boot disk to get the absolute most out the 640k available, in order to play the latest game.
    Paying 20 pounds (80's currency) for a game cassette, only to have the tape machine eat it two days later.
    Having monitors that announced being switched on with a loud 'URNK'
    Waiting for a line to free up on any of my favourite BBS's
    Watching the great Amiga die a slow death, due to ineptitude by Commodore.
    Installing MS Office 4.3 from 21 floppy disks,
    Discovering disk 19 is unreadable.
    Iomega ZIP disks vs The Click of Death
    Anything/everything about Windows 3.1/ME
    Games that only had IPX networking
    RAM costing $300 per stick

    As you can imagine, the list goes on, but I can honestly say, I do not miss any of those 'good old days', and I'd wager if I had to use those i386's again, any nostalgic I might have had would soon wear thin.

    Drilling holes into dd disks to try and make them into hd disks!

    Wearing out parts of floppy discs, like the middle of R-type on my C64 :|

    I miss the time where it takes 5+ years for your hardware to become outdated

    Editing autoexec.bat and config.sys constantly to get the right mix of EMS/XMS to make games work

      The EMS/XMS balancing act; such satisfaction when you pulled it off.

    Changing IRQ settings on ISA cards manually and trying to avoid/work around conflicts...


    I don't miss that at all!

    Last edited 13/07/13 7:29 pm

    I miss the new-ness of it all and how exciting and futuristic it all felt. I can still vividly remember getting my first computer (a Sharp MZ-80K) and how incredible it felt to have that technology in my house. Now computers and the Internet have woven themselves into the fabric of life and even the latest gizmos feel like a tepid soup of 'meh'.

    Mates binging their pc's over and spending the night with the machines belly up playing doom 2 coop :)

    We swore nothing would ever beat the graphics of Doom 2 :)

    Software that just WORKED first time, no need for constant updates.

    35 hour battery life for full use of a portable computer off 2 AA batteries.
    Boot up time of less than a second till it is ready to work.
    The original Atari Joystick with only one button.
    Green text on black background monitors to lower eye strain.

    The excitement of getting a batch of AMIGA new games on floppy disc, and trying them all out. I could not wait to get home from primary school on those days.

    Not missing to park your hard drive before powering down, waiting for the screen to warm up or writing a program and then wait 3 days for the program to finish rendering the image.

    I miss how real world social computing used to be. without a network, when you needed advice you would have to find someone and then take your stuff over to there place to fix it.

    Quest games. Grew up with kings quest, space quest, monkey island. Can't remember all the others but there were quite a lot into the 90s. Legend of Kyrandia?

      The guys that made those Quest games are making another one:

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