24 photos Generation Z will never understand

Ben Weber/UnsplashSmartphones didn’t always exist to take our selfies.

So far, Generation Z is shaping up to be a largely inspirational crew – they’re fierce activists, proponents of sustainable, plant-based food, and more interested in curating their social media pages than sneaking alcohol out of their parents’ liquor cabinets.

For all the advancements we know Generation Z will introduce to the world in years to come, we can’t help but feel nostalgic for the groundbreaking inventions that came before their time.

From carrying around old transistor radios to beginning the morning with a Calvin and Hobbes comic, here are 24 things from the past that Gen Z will probably never understand.


Gen Z definitely won’t recognise most tech gadgets of the past. For example, folks were listening to music on a cassette player (and then, eventually, a Walkman).

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / GettyCassette player.

Before there was Spotify or Apple Music, you had to rewind tapes on a cassette player to hear songs again and basically just guess when to stop.


Most young people wouldn’t recognise a beeper, but it was actually the original text.

kasarp studio/ShutterstockPagers are now more-or-less defunct.

“Beep me” is a phrase you don’t hear anymore.


Transistor radios are a rare sight these days.

nayneung1/ShutterstockAn old transistor radio.

The transistor radio, which was invented in 1947, was revolutionary for its time. With it, music and information became portable.


People had to wait for the internet thanks to dial-up.

Screengrab via RetroHead92/YouTubeAOL.

Dial-up was defined by a strange, hollow, echoing sound that preceded three “ding-ding-dings” that signalled that you were connected to the internet. They will also never hear the cheerful “You’ve got mail!”


Fax machines were the original email.

Alsu/ShutterstockFax machine.

Almost instantaneous in their sending and receiving, fax machines were like the original email. Today, a fax machine is mostly obsolete.


Floppy disks weren’t just the “save” icon on your computer.

Martin Child / Getty ImagesFloppy disks.

Floppy disks were first introduced in 1967. Along with basically every other form of technology used in the 1990s, they are all but forgotten. Truly, most kids only know about floppy disks from Microsoft Word.


Before there were Smart Boards in classrooms, carousel slide projectors were once a school staple.

THPStock/ShutterstockCarousel slide projector.

These babies were a big deal during the 1960s, and they were used as a form of home entertainment until Kodak discontinued them in 2004.


Before there were cell phones, people used their landlines to stay in touch.

Lambert / GettyLandline.

Landlines were more commonly referred to as the “home phone,” and you had to share the line with your entire family.

People also had to use their phone line to use the internet, meaning that if you were on the phone, no one else could use the internet.


The younger generation will also never have to interact with a telephone operator these days.

London Express/Getty ImagesA telephone operator.

Back when telephones were still a burgeoning technology, companies often relied on operators to assist callers in telephone exchanges. Now, there are automated machines and answering messages that made this profession obsolete.


Since there were no cell phones to save phone numbers, many turned to Rolodexes and address books — both of which young people have probably never used.

The Washington Post / GettyA Rolodex.

Can you imagine having to scroll through this thing to find a friend’s number?


Today, Gen Z can just look up a company’s phone number on Google, but the Yellow Pages was the only way to find people’s numbers in the past.

Newscast / GettyThe Yellow Pages.

Remember having to bust out one of these to find someone’s number?


With automatic windows in cars, Gen Z will never know the physical difficulty of using a crank window.

Fondupot’s Garage/ YouTubeWindow crank.

Before the invention of a button that opened and closed the car window for you instantly, people had to use a crank handle to manually open the window. On some cars, it was difficult to turn the crank, and some complained it was a slow process.


Some games consoles, like the Super Nintendo, are completely foreign to Gen Z.

Sascha Steinbach / GettySuper Nintendo.

Nintendo launched the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in the US in 1991 but ceased production eight years later. You can take a peek at what Nintendo headquarters were like back when they were first beginning.


These days kids can make masterful drawings on their iPads, but years ago Etch A Sketches were the vanguards of creative drawing tablets.

Portland Press Herald / GettyEtch a Sketch.

However, Etch A Sketches aren’t completely gone. In fact, one woman travelled to India and recreated everything she saw on an Etch A Sketch.


Forget Candy Crush — Snake was the best cell phone game of all time.

Screengrab via unlokia/YouTubeSnake.

Nokia phones like the Nokia 3310 were popular in the early 2000s. But Apple introduced consumers to the iPhone and with it came more advanced games that people still play today.


Pogs were like little-kid currency back in the ’90s.

Xavier ROSSI / GettyPogs.

You could play with them, trade them, or thumb through your collection. In reality, they were just cardboard discs – about the size of a poker chip – with printed images on them.


Calvin and Hobbes was the best way to start the day.

Tony Dejak/APA Calvin and Hobbes comic by cartoonist Bill Watterson.

Calvin and Hobbes, which was syndicated from 1985 to 1995, was an iconic comic strip by the inimitable Bill Watterson.


Since Netflix has taken over the entertainment industry, Gen Z will never enjoy a trip to Blockbuster to rent videos.

AP Photo/Kevork DjansezianBlockbuster.

The extinct provider of home movie and video game rental services was an extremely popular destination for movie-lovers and VHS-devotees alike.


Likewise, the younger generation will never know Borders — Barnes & Noble’s predecessor.

Hannah Peters / GettyBorders.

Although most Gen Z youngsters turn to Barnes & Noble or Amazon for their books, they will never know the greatness of Borders, the late-mega bookstore pioneer that folded in 2011.


Dunkaroos were the undisputed best and most-coveted snack for children before Gen Z.

tcvidman/ YouTubeDunkaroos.

Launched in 1990 and last seen on shelves in 2012, Dunkaroos were one of the ’90s kids’ favourite snacks.


When figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked and brutally injured, it became one of the most famous sports scandals in history.

picture alliance / GettyTonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan.

In 1994, a man attacked US figure skater Nancy Kerrigan after practice, injuring her leg with a collapsible baton. The man was hired by Jeff Gillooly, who happened to be the ex-husband of Kerrigan’s closest skating rival, Tonya Harding. Although Harding denied being any part of the attack, she pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to hinder prosecution” and was banned from the sport forever.

The scandal was tabloid bait, making it one of the top stories of the ’90s, but it’s likely Gen Z has never heard of either of these women.


Some may have heard the phrase “jumping the shark,” but few youngsters know the saying is actually from this scene in “Happy Days.”

GhoulsOfPlan9/ YouTube‘Happy Days.’

In 1977, “Happy Days” aired an episode that would go down in pop culture history. Henry Winkler’s character, the Fonz, famously jumped over a shark while riding a pair of skis. The moment became famous and birthed the phrase “jumped the shark” – a reference to when something super successful starts going downhill and makes a move to boost its popularity, but in fact shows that it’s no longer relevant.


Most young people can recognise Mark Wahlberg, but most wouldn’t know he got his start as a rapper named Marky Mark.

Paul Natkin / GettyMarky Mark.

Before he was a Hollywood actor, Mark Wahlberg went by Marky Mark. He was part of a hip-hop group called Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Together, they made hit singles like “Good Vibrations” and “Wildside.”


Some Gen Z youngsters may not know about the kiss between Britney Spears, Madonna, and Christina Aguilera.

Scott Gries/GettyThe infamous kiss.

In some ways, it was the kiss heard around the world.

At the 2003, MTV Video Music Awards, Brittney Spears and Christina Aguilera opened by performing “Like a Virgin.” Madonna then entered to sing her song “Hollywood,” which is when she kisses Spears first and then Aguilera. The moment became the only thing everyone could talk about, especially since Spears was coming off her breakup with Justin Timberlake. It has now gone down in pop culture history.

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