1. A dial-up modem
Children, there was a time when we weren’t always on the internet. This is what it sounded like when we connected to the World Wide Web.
2. Rotary dial telephones
Before phones were smart, mobile, cordless, or touchtone, they were rotary. There’s a reason they call it dialing a number; once upon a time, actual dialing was involved.
3. A VHS tape rewinded
In a time before streaming video, we would rent video tapes from brick-and-mortar businesses. These rental businesses would implore us to “be kind, rewind” – put the video tape back on the first spool once we were done watching the video.
4. “You’ve Got Mail”
Back when email was in its infancy, we would dial into America Online (“AOL” for those in the know), and this disembodied voice would tell us whether or not we had unread messages.
5. TV static
Static, or “noise,” was created back on analog TVs when the antenna was unable to receive a viable transmission signal. The black/white static pattern was generally caused by radio waves and electromagnetic background radiation signals.
6. A pencil sharpener
We’re in an increasingly-digital world. Remember when we used non-mechanical pencils? And remember when we used non-motorized pencil sharpeners? We would stick the pencil in this tinny contraption with “Boston” embossed on it, and rotate a crank to sharpen our writing utensils to a point.
7. A phone literally ringing
Back in the day, phones had bells in them. When someone was on the other end trying to contact you, the bell inside your phone would ring. Crazy times.
8. A dot matrix printer
It came at a time when printing was so foreign a concept that we needed to explain that your printout would be created via a literal matrix of dots.
9. A TV show audience going “awww”
Oddly, TV shows still frequently have laugh tracks or applause (even if the shows aren’t filmed live). Yet the audible “awwwww” seen in clips like this seems to be a thing entirely of the past.
10. Winding the film in a camera
Back when cameras used real film, we had to physically wind up the film to (a) load the camera and (b) advance the film after snapping a photo.
11. Cracking open a hardcover book’s spine
We used to literally turn pages that were bound together by a hardcover book spine. When we first opened the book, the spine would crack. Here’s what it sounded like.
12. A newspaper being read
We would get the news delivered to our homes once a day – printed on large sheets of crinkly, noisy paper. We’d also get ink on our fingers.
13. Tuning into a radio station
Back when radio was widely used, radios had dials. You’d have to use a little bit of finesse to find just the right radio frequency.
14. An analog alarm clock
We kept time with finely-calibrated analog machinery. When we set an alarm on the clock, a tiny little hammer would bounce back and forth striking two bells until we stopped it.
15. A CD skipping
One of the most annoying things ever. And Tony Soprano hates when it happens.
16. A coffee percolator
The best part of waking up.
17. Intermission reels at the movies
Short ads like this would air at movie theaters (or drive-in theaters) to provide audiences with the chance to use the restroom and buy refreshments without missing any of the film. A great idea, if I do say so myself.
18. A dial tone
Landlines aren’t so common anymore. Seriously, when was the last time you picked up a phone and heard a dial tone?
19. A floppy disk drive at work
Once upon a time, this is how files were stored and shared. These bad boys could hold a whole 1.44 MB.
20. Snapping/sliding the metal thing on floppy disks
Sadly, I couldn’t even find the sound of this. But if you grew up in the 90s, you can absolutely hear it in your head.
21. A film projector
When you go to the movie theater nowadays, the “film” (it’s not really film anymore) is projected digitally. But that wasn’t always the case (as you know if you went to the movies just a few years ago and sat by the projection booth).
22. Polar Bears
Scientists are now estimating that due to global warming, the polar bear will be extinct in a matter of decades, with two-thirds of the species wiped out by 2050.
23. Loading a cassette into your walkman
Before Spotify, iTunes, or even CD players, we carried around machines that played magnetized tapes with our favorite songs encoded on them. This is what using one such machine – the walkman – sounded like.
24. The gchat notification sound
Now that Google has switched to Hangouts, the gchat notification we all knew and loved has been swept aside.
25. A TV station signing off
Decades ago, in an era before cable, TV stations would go off the air late at night and return to broadcast early in the morning. Signing off, they would generally play the national anthem (note: Canada’s CBC still does this, which is one of the many reasons Canada is awesome).
26. A slideshow projector switching slides
It’s a great, comforting sound. Don Draper would approve.