15 things from the 1980s - 90s that kids today will catch no ball

Kids be like 'Cassettes? Floppy disks? What that's? Food?'

Jonathan Lim| October 09, 06:35 PM

You know when you can call yourself old? When things you used to do no longer make any sense to kids today. That's what they call a 'generation gap'.

Here are some things that you will probably get, but the generation after you will be clueless about:


1. Cassettes

cassette and penciSource

Yes, there was a time when the amount of songs you can cram into something is measured in minutes (45, 60, 90 or 180 minutes), rather than in gigabytes.

The iPod generation will never understand. The funny thing is, Apple is discontinuing the iPod. Welcome to the future.


2. The Walkman

walk man

Remember those times you religiously tuned to your favourite radio stations and frantically hit the 'Rec' button because the DJ was reading out your song dedication? Stay cool and funky yo.

Auto-reverse was one of the greatest things invented too. We did not have to take the cassette out and switch from Side A to Side B. Some times, if we forget to label the cassette, we'll be clueless what side we're actually playing.

Kids with Spotify these days will never understand.


3. Floppy disks

floppy disk

Can you remember the smell of these things? How about the sensation of sliding these into floppy disk drives? Remember the sounds the computer made when it was reading the disks?

We used to carry stacks of these around especially when you had to store pictures and photographs in them.

These days, kids store everything on the cloud. They will probably not use thumb drives at all as well.


4. Far East Kids and Centrepoint Kids

far east plazaSource

Far East Plaza and Centrepoint was where all the cool kids roll. That's until Heeren came along with HMV inside.

Now, Orchard Road is way too crowded for the cool kids. Tiong Bahru and hipster cafes are the places to be.

In the words of two of Mothership.sg's 20-year-old interns, "Where's Centrepoint?"


5. Tea dances

fire disco tea danceSource

Clubbing at 4pm in the day? Sure!

Clubbing without alcohol? No problem.


6. Autograph books

autograph bookNo more listing who your 'Good Friend' and 'Best Friend' is. The days of badly written poems involving roses and violets are over.

You'd think that kids have all migrated to Facebook right? You're wrong, even Facebook is outdated.

They are all on Instagram now.


7. Pen pals

pen palSource

Writing letters, putting them in envelopes, licking the back of a stamp and using the mailboxes - all these are probably foreign concepts for kids these days.

The romantic notion of waiting for a heartfelt letter is dead.

Why write letters when you can Skype, WhatsApp or WeChat with your friends?


8. Programming a video recorder

sony VCRSource

Remember how you had to make sure where you are recording on the tape will not overwrite other programmes you want?

Remember how tedious it was to have to rewind and fast forward just to get to the right parts?

You also had to programme the video recorder to record a few minutes extra in case you miss the start of the show. The worst thing that can happen is that you run out of tape before the show ends. The horror.

The YouTube and On-demand TV generation will never understand our pain.


9. Zone phones


Just like how we hunt for Wi-Fi spots in shopping centres these days, it wasn't so long ago people with zone phones had to hunt for a callzone spot to make their phone calls.

Imagine only being able to upload and share Instagram photographs at designated spots across the island.


10. Secret games on calculators

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No smart phones? No problem. There were other ways to entertain ourselves except that this helped our dexterity and math skills at the same time.

Kids weaned on Angry Birds and Candy Crush will never have the patience to figure out how to play calculator games.


11. Card games

top trumpsSource

These were the bomb! Remember how we would pray to get the best cards like the super cars to own our friends with.

card gamesSource

Another familiar favourite. It's amazing how these decks of cards don't really come with instructions but we manage to learn the rules and pass them on to our friends as well.

Sadly, these card games are replaced with mobile phone games.


12. When any teacher could give you a beating


Remember how teachers could pull your ear, use their fingers to flick your forehead, ask you to squat on your table pulling both ears or just straight up cane you? You turned out ok, right?

Now, only Principals and Discipline masters are allowed to do any caning and there's a long SOP to follow.

If a teacher started to lay the smack down on kids, they can be sure that it will all be on YouTube with the title 'Singapore teacher physically abuses helpless student'.


13. Non-descript 'communist'-style school bags

canvas bagSource

These bags were usually green or brown and had no branding. It was all the rage.

For kids now, it's no Herschel no talk.


14. $0.15 - $0.45 bus fare

city shuttle serviceSource

Bus fares were incredibly cheap when we were young. The cheapest were of course the non-air conditioned buses.

What can 15-cents buy us today? 1.5 trips to a public toilet?


15. Double decker buses without aircon

sbs busSource

These buses were hot. And when they are stopped in traffic, the buses start to fill up with the smell of exhaust. Luckily in those days, Singapore was not packed with people or we would have many commuters fainting on the buses.

Kids these days probably live in a reality that all public buses come air-conditioned and will never experience what it is like to sweat it out every day on the bus to school.


Related articles:

16 pictures from 90s Singapore to make you curl up and cry

15 signs you were really brought up in Singapore in the 80s and early 90s

9 old school ads S’poreans who lived through the pre-Internet age will remember

10 things we loved as kids but are now too old to enjoy


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