Back in the nineties things were a little simpler … weren’t they? TGIF television, home phones that eliminated the possibility of drunken texts and dial-up Internet that took ages to load. When you look at it like that, it’s easy to see how far we’ve come.
As Canada’s Discovery Channel celebrates 20 years this week, we take a look at some of the things that are so remarkable today, and so remarkably different from that golden age we called the nineties.
A man strapping on a pressurized suit in order to be “eaten” by an anaconda
OK, so Paul Rosolie wasn’t actually eaten alive on Eaten Alive, but the idea that a man would a) create such a suit and b) attempt to entice a snake to eat him seems like something we would have seen on a cartoon — not on Discovery.
The ability to send videos — actual music videos — from space
Back in the day we couldn’t even get our chat rooms to load, never mind send each other videos on our phones. If we knew that in 20 years Commander Chris Hadfield would record “Space Oddity” on board the International Space Station, we probably wouldn’t have saved so many AOL Internet disks for future use.
Tim Taylor wouldn’t actually host Worst Handyman
Sure, it was funny to laugh at Tim “The Toolman” Taylor on Home Improvement, but who knew one day we’d be loving a reality show about real life Tims with Canada’s Worst Handyman? Makes us kind of want to … grunt.
Steve Jobs would become a rock star…and then die young
In the late ’90s two things happened: Steve Jobs rejoined Apple and a dude named Ashton Kutcher filmed a pilot for a show called That ’70s Show, in which he played the pretty but dumb pothead Kelso. Today, Jobs has passed and Kutcher played him in the biopic. Mind. Blown.
Pluto would no longer be a planet
Anyone who ever knew anything about space knew that Pluto was the coolest of all the planets. Or at the very least it was the cute one, given its connections to Disney and that loveable dog of the same name. More than a few childhoods were kind of ruined when the International Astronomical Union voted it was a dwarf planet and not part of our solar system instead.
Back in the day, high-tech working out meant stuffing yourself in spandex and popping in a Tae-bo video. Now there are Fitbits, thumb monitors and Google Glass, among others. All worn with Lululemon apparel during Zumba workouts, natch.
People would skydive from space
In the early ’90s bungee jumping might have been all the rage, but Felix Baumgartner made history when he jumped from space in 2012. Thanks to a special suit and some serious balls the dude wasn’t vaporized coming back down through the hemisphere, allowing for Alan Eustace to jump from an even greater height in 2014.
We’d be able to watch all of this and more on our phones
Everyone remembers the early iterations of the cell phone — or the Zack Morris phone, as Saved by the Bell fans so lovingly refer to it today. Wonder how Kelly would have reacted if Zack started paying more attention the contraption in his hands as opposed to her?
And access the Internet almost everywhere
Do YOU remember the last time you weren’t able to settle a good old fashioned dispute by quickly looking the answer up online? Or how mad you were to learn that your last flight actually didn’t allow Internet usage? Back in the ’90s our computers were big boxes that came with dial-up.
Coffee would no longer be just … coffee
In the ’90s coffeehouses were just starting to go mainstream, and the fanciest we ever got was when we hung out at Central Perk with some good old-fashioned Friends. Nowadays, you’d better nail how to order that tall, non-fat, half-shot, extra hot, extra-whip, frap-alap thingamajig or face serious judgment from the barista. Remember when putting a pot on in a traditional drip coffee maker was all the rage?
Hoverboards would be a real thing
Turns out that Marty McFly actually did predict the future, and even though we suffered that terrible fake hoverboard ad from Funny or Die, there are real, working hoverboards being developed in tech labs. Not to mention hoverskates and a slew of other sleek new transportation options. Anything to get rid of gridlock, right?
These expensive suckers are being used for extraordinary purposes — like printing organs and teeth, or new paws for puppies. Remember when digital printing was the next big thing? We’ve certainly come a long way since vinyl.
Once upon a time pictures actually had to be taken to a centre to be developed (unless you were lucky enough to have a Polaroid), and couldn’t be uploaded on a screen. Nor checked right away to see if a retake was in order–what you snapped was what you got. Now we regularly take selfies (with or without the stick), and have various duck faces to help set the mood.
Social Media & Text Messaging
Back in the day we used to pass notes in class. Today we secretly Snapchat, text message, Facebook, Tweet or Instagram if we want to communicate during work/school/meetings/boring conferences. This has lead to problems such as FOMO, oversharing and self-brags, among others. On the plus side, the teacher can no longer read your embarrassing note out loud in front of the class.
We would be obsessed with crab fishing
Among shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race and The Bachelor, who knew that a little reality show about crab fishing would be the biggest thing on Discovery? Deadliest Catch is not only one of the top rated shows, but we’ve definitely started looking at shellfish from a whole new perspective.
Sure, bunny-eared televisions were on their way out in the ’90s, but we still had those big boxy offerings. Today we not only have amazing hi-def flatscreens, but we also have 3D sets at home that put those blue-and-red paper glasses from the movie theatres to shame.
People would be ‘naked and afraid’
Remember when showing someone’s bum meant an R rating? Now people are actually baring it all for a chance to be on television in the nude.
Music would actually fit in your pocket
Thought your shockproof discman was like, the coolest thing ever? It was…back then. Remember how slim and lightweight it felt? Then the Mp3 player came along and the world was changed forever. The ability to carry hundreds and hundreds of songs on your phone seemed impossible back then, but totally commonplace today.
Cars would drive on Mars
Forget hybrid cars (also cool in their own right). The fact that we can now drive cars on Mars (from the comfort of our own planet) wasn’t only unimaginable 20 years ago, but we would probably never fathom it would even be a pickup line for some guys. At least according to The Big Bang Theory.
We’d be able to see remote areas of the planet
Sure, we managed to get up close and personal with some pretty cool wildlife thanks to people like Steve Irwin. But today, thanks to state of the art cameras and new technologies we’ve had access to some of the coolest places and species across the planet. And uh, this.