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You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...

With a nod to the latest Facebook meme, we look back at 46 signs you worked in the tech industry two decades ago.

IT Salaries: 9 Ways We've Changed From 2001
Slideshow: IT Salaries: 9 Ways We've Changed From 2001
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Memes have become a Facebook trademark. During the past few years we've seen the sharing of lingerie colors, the lying down game, and, of course, the "25 things you don't know about me" lists.

A new meme is emerging that's bringing people back. With a nod to the "You know you're from [insert time period, hometown, etc. here]" meme, The BrainYard picked the brains of colleagues past and present and asked them to respond to the following:

You know you were part of the tech industry in the '90s if ...

1. you remember when Bill Gates did that blue-screened Win9x release onstage at Chicago Comdex.

2. you remember that there was a Chicago Comdex.

3. you were jealous of your friend's NeXT.

4. you used a cool device that you held in your palm that made you learn how to write each letter a different way, and it changed the world.

5. you remember when people bothered to say "digital" before "camera" and "cellular" before "phone"--and only the uber-geeks and/or the really rich had either, even though both were barely usable or useful.

6. you had a pager.

7. you ever used a Macintosh clone.

8. you remember when Apple launched an unsuccessful tablet device called the Newton.

9. you defined a portable computer using terms such as clamshell, laptop, and lunchbox, instead of notebook, tablet, and smartphone.

10. you can identify the serial port and accurately discuss what it was used for.

11. you know anything at all about "the Pentium bug." Extra credit if you know the name of the problematic instruction resulting in Intel offering replacement chips.

12. you could identify the speed a modem was connecting by the sound of the tones.

13. you went "online" with CompuServe or Prodigy.

14. your phone system and your data network used different wires.

15. you cared deeply about the 56K modem battle: spread spectrum vs. direct sequence.

16. you saw the first broadband cable modem and knew it would change the way we would think about being always online.

17. to you, Archie is not just a character in a comic and Gopher is not a small rodent.

18. you had to spell out acronyms like LAN and WAN.

19. you have a box of Zip disks.

20. you could be a network administrator and not ever use IP.

21. you remember when Ethernet was connected with hubs.

22. hearing the words "token ring" and "beacon" in the same sentence still gives you chills.

23. you saw token ring get killed when Ethernet switches were born.

24. you needed a memory manager--not for yourself but for your PC.

25. you loved that it finally was possible to attach a printer to the network and not the server.

26. you could watch flying toasters for hours on end.

27. you remember Novell had the dominant NOS and Microsoft had something called DOS.

28. you remember the OS/2 vs. Windows debate.

29. you were excited by the launch of Windows 3.0.

30. you remember when trying Linux involved downloading 27 floppy disk images, and installation carried the real risk of hardware damage if you used incorrect X Windows settings.

31. you remember the first time you used the NCSA Mosaic browser (shortly after feeding 27 floppy disks into a spare 80386 PC).

32. you could develop commercial software without fear of patent litigation.

33. you knew where Scott/Tiger came from and what software package used it as the default user name/password.

34. you thought installing software over the network instead of using floppy disks was a major leap forward.

35. you did comparative reviews of Vines, NetWare, and Windows NT.

36. you remember when IBM bought Lotus (and then everyone else).

37. you remember the Microsoft Bob operating system.

38. for you, "Chicago" means Windows 95 and "Memphis" means Windows 98.

39. you've actually used Windows for Workgroups or Windows Me.

40. you remember TV announcers struggling with "double u, double u, double u, dot ..." and the brief period when it was considered necessary to preface that with "h, tee, tee, pee..."

41. you used the term "information superhighway" more than once, with a straight face.

42. you struggled to understand the difference between Internet and intranet.

43. you debated whether anyone would actually read the news online.

44. you remember Netscape--not just the browser but the company that put the fear of God and the Web-based operating system into Microsoft.

45. you remember publishing on the Web without cascading style sheets.

46. you ever wrote a weekly print tech-rumors column under a pseudonym.

Thanks to Peter Coffee, Jim Rapoza, Andrew Garcia, Gary Gunnerson, Bill Katz, Doreen Maciak, Michael Skaff, Carmen Nobel, Siobhan Nash, Michael Caton, Eamonn Sullivan, Brenda Christensen, and Matthew Rothenberg. Wax nostalgic in the comments section below. (Next up: You know you were part of the tech industry in the '00s if ...)

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ANON1246988371125
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ANON1246988371125,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/25/2011 | 7:49:40 PM
re: You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...
You know what a teletype machine is or what is used in a 'ticker tape' parade.
Digitized voice at 32Kbps sounded like you were under water.
Remembered when Pong was king.
lfree605
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lfree605,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/22/2011 | 9:03:16 PM
re: You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...
In the 70s, I recall on a PDP8 when upgrading memory from 4kword to 12kword wondering what we'd do with all that extra space. Unlike the older memory which was a woven wire mesh with donuts, the new were large boards with chips. I also remember the 8 inch floppies and 14 inch removable 5MB hard disks.

Outside of the IBM world we used paper tape in place of punch cards. Part of the fun was rolling up the tape, then the rubber bands. You had to avoid tearing the tape and run after it if it rolled away.
DTOTH1954
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DTOTH1954,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/22/2011 | 3:02:44 PM
re: You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...
Knew the difference between baud and bps, and could have a 30 minute argument over it.
Was warranty certified on the IBM PC and Mac (just Mac).
Extensively use ProComm.
Could custom wire a serial cable without a manual.
Knew the difference between MFM, RLL and ESDI, and could have a 30 minute argument over it.
Kick started a stuck hard disk using a pencil eraser.
Kept NDD on a floppy disk as part of your tool kit.
Remember when digital video was the low quality stuff and analog was the way to go.
Used the command "copy con com1 ATTD1"
Know what the heck that even does.
Used a modem which was NOT Hayes compatible.
Set an IRQ with a jumper.
Drooled over an 8087 chip.
Used a hole punch to create a double sided floppy disk.
Got excited when Bernoulli came out with a 20/20 model.
Still own a working ST506 hard disk, and know why that's cool.
lfree605
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lfree605,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/22/2011 | 2:32:16 PM
re: You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...
And I forgot. Outside of the IBM world we used paper tape in place of punch cards. Part of the fun was rolling up the tape, then the rubber bands.
rmanske53101
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rmanske53101,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/22/2011 | 2:30:57 PM
re: You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...
More from the 90's

You knew the difference between 386 and 386sx, and that 486sx didn't mean the same.

Getting a 40Mb hard drive and wondering what you would do with all that space.

You knew what WYSIWYG meant and said it with a strait face.

Hearing you will never get a lazer printer for under $1000

Microsoft investing in Apple to keep it afloat for some compitition in the market
lfree605
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lfree605,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/22/2011 | 2:28:22 PM
re: You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...
In the 70s, I recall on a PDP8 when upgrading memory from 4kword to 12kword wondering what we'd do with all that extra space. Unlike the older memory which was a woven wire mesh with donuts, the new were large boards with chips. I also remember the 8 inch floppies and 14 inch removable 5MB hard disks.
OldUberGoober
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OldUberGoober,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/22/2011 | 1:52:46 PM
re: You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...
The '90s sucked, but they were a great source of IT war stories:

* a Megabyte was a LOT
* ArcNet, Lattisnet, and StarLan (1 and 10) were things you knew about.
* A real hard drive was a full-height 5.25, and you really didn't trust those little bitty 3.5" ones.
* TCP/IP was an add-on for lots of operating systems, if you could get it at all, and you got it from Wollongong or TGV.
* The BIGGER hard drives were SCSI, and they were measured in Megabytes.
* Western Digital made chips for serial ports.
* Kevin Tolly still liked Token Ring (oops, that was the 2000s!)
* Everybody else called it Broken Ring.
* I had a Spencer F. Katt T-shirt!
Maggie43215
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Maggie43215,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/22/2011 | 1:16:48 PM
re: You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...
Remembered when
my first "personal computer" had 2k of memory, and the external drive was a digital tape recorder.
Coding "Hello world" took 50 lines of assembler.
Debugging meant looking at dump files.
Working from home was amazing - even with a 110-baud dial-up connection.
lgrim21001
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lgrim21001,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2011 | 6:54:43 PM
re: You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...
* Hand punched a Hollorith card to make the column all punched because of an error and no spare cards
* Dropped said box of Hollorith cards one drunk night
* Measured transmission speeds in baud, not them kilos and megas
* Used terminating BNC connectors on your network and forgot one at the end of the line
jdudeck
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jdudeck,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/20/2011 | 5:48:26 PM
re: You Know You're From IT In 1990s If ...
21 took me aback, because in the 90's we were still using 10Base2 thinnet coaxial cable. Fortunately I never had to work with 10Base5 thicknet.
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