• 08/19/2011
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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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