Out of the Beige

When I began my career in web design, a device like this could be only be found in the world of science fiction. Actually, the iPad, which became available for pre-order this morning, makes Captain Picard’s PADD devices seem clunky and antiquated by comparison.

The iPad’s imminent release, along with the 10th anniversary of NASDAQ’s peak at the height of the dot-com bubble, made me wax a little nostalgic about the “good ol’ days” of the late 90s and early 2000s. The internet was becoming mainstream and computers were gaining wider use. A brand new web design industry was born and I was privileged to be a part of it.

It was a fun era, and while I sometimes miss the adventure of it all, there are a lot of things I’m happy to leave in the past. Here are just a few:

CRT Monitors
These hulking beasts can still be found in many offices and homes, but they are becoming extinct as LCD screens have become more affordable. Moving these things around is real pain in the biceps, and if you stare at them long enough you can almost feel your eyeballs melting.

Floppy Disks
Slow, noisy floppies hold a measly 1.4 megabytes of data. They were basically useless for shuttling large graphic files around, forcing us to use larger capacity ZIP disks (or, god forbid, JAZ disks) because CD writing drives were still pretty pricey.

Until Gmail came along in 2004, unsolicited “spam” email was just something I lived with. When you receive 50-100 spams a day, the “new message” alert loses all meaning. Sure, there were client-side spam filters, but they needed to be “trained” for several months, and they were far from perfect. Gmail’s sophisticated spam filter restored that little bit of glee at receiving a new message in my inbox.

Beige Boxes
For a time I actually enjoyed tinkering with home-built PCs (though I often enlisted the help of my unofficial AV/IT guy, Voidious) but eventually I’d had enough. I remember the exact night, in fact. It was 3:00 in the morning on a very hot summer evening and my machine was in pieces. Sweat dripped from my brow as I struggled to troubleshoot a hard disk issue. Or was it a power supply problem? Either way, I was done with that shit.

Video Plug-Ins
Remember RealPlayer? Before Youtube and Flash video, we needed specific browser plug-ins to watch video onilne. It was slow, buggy, and the picture sucked. Incidentally, I recall my buddy Chuck experimenting with using Flash for video sometime in ’03 or ’04. At the time I thought it was radical and a little crazy. Guess I was wrong. 🙂

There was a time when security holes in browsers and operating systems were so rampant that it was practically inevitable your computer would become infected. Some of this malicious software was so insidious–actually, wait, some of you are still using Windows and Internet Explorer, aren’t you? Ugh, this is awkward. Yeah, nevermind, I guess this one isn’t a thing of the past just yet. 😉

Out of the Beige