May 23, 2024 | Marlon Wright

25 Things Young People Today Can't Recognize

Taking It Back to the Good Old Days

So far, Generation Z is becoming a fairly inspirational bunch with their fierce activism and proponents of sustainability.

And with all the advancements Gen Z will introduce to the world in the upcoming years, we can’t help but feel nostalgic for the revolutionary inventions that came before their time.

Here’s 25 things from the past that the younger generations will likely never understand.

Inventions Gen Z Wont Understand Split

Cassette Player

There’s definitely a lot of tech gadgets that Gen Z won’t recognize—like the cassette player. What’s even better is next came the Walkman, which they also probably wont recognize.

Close Up Photo of a Cassette PlayerVanesa Cordero, Flickr

A Beeper

The original texting device, as we like to call it. Gen Z most likely wouldn’t have a clue what this would be for, or how to use it.

Close Up Photo of An old Motorola Bravo Express pager.Jakez, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Transistor Radios

Transistor radios are a rare sight these days. Even some millennials have probably never seen one.

They were invented in 1947 and were revolutionary for their time as this is when music and information became portable.

Close Up Photo of Vintage Truetone Portable Transistor RadioJoe Haupt, Flickr

Dial-up Internet

Generation Z will never know how it feels to have to wait for the internet to connect. Dial-up is burned into our brains as a strange, hollow, echoing sound that proceeded three “ding-ding-dings” that signaled you were connect to the internet.

An array of modems used to accept incoming calls for dialing-up to the internetJohann H. Addicks, Wikimedia Commons

Fax Machines

Believe it or not, a lot of Generation Z have never faxed anything. While they still exist today, fax machines are rarely used by the younger folk.

Dubbed, the original e-mail, fax machines would instantly send and receive messages and documents.

Samsung SF-370 fax machine with inkjet printingPittigrilli, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Floppy Disks

Generation Z see the floppy disk as the save icon rather than as an actual media used for storing data on computers.

Close Up Photo of 3½-Inch Floppy Disks and 3½-Inch Floppy Disk Storage.Iswoar, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons


Before classrooms were equipped with Smart Boards, we had projectors. Your teacher had to reserve it in advance and documents had to be printed or written on clear pages in order to be projected onto the wall or screen.

Overhead projector, used during lessons in a classroom.mailer_diablo, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons


Before there were cell phones, there were landlines. Generation Z will never understand having to call your friend to hang out, make the plans, and then leave the house and hope everything goes according to plan.

And before there were cordless landlines, the phones were connected to the base—so you had to talk to your friends in front of your parents.

Close Up Photo of A Landline Phone on a Wooden TableDids, Pexels

A Telephone Operator

Younger generations will also never have to interact with a telephone operator. Back when telephones were still an evolving technology, companies relied on an operator to assist callers.

Now, everything is automated, making this profession obsolete.

Grayscale Photo of Telephone Operators in their workplace.Mark Mathosian, Flickr

Address Books

While on the topic of phones, most of the younger generations have never used an address book or a rolodex.

Everything is stored in their cell phones these days.

Close Up Photo of A blank page in a typical paper address book.Mx. Granger, CC0, Wikimedia Commons

The Yellow Pages

Generation Z aren’t familiar with the days before Google. When we wanted to look up a company’s phone number or address, we had to search through the Yellow Pages.

Close Up Photo of An open yellow pages type phone bookHow can I recycle this, Flickr

Manual Window Cranks

Unless a young adult drives a classic vehicle, they likely have never used a manual window crank.

Before the invention of a button that instantly opened and closed your car window, people had to use a crank handle to open it manually.

Car Window CrankSanteri Viinamäki, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Game Consoles

Older game consoles, like the Super Nintendo and N64 are completely foreign to Gen Z.

Not just the consoles, but having a physical game and wired controllers are both things of the past now.

Close Up Photo of Vintage Super Nintendo ConsoleJoe Haupt, Flickr


While you can still find these nostalgic toys in some stores, they are not used the same as they were back in the day.

These days kids can make masterful art on their iPads within minutes, whereas years ago, kids would spend hours playing on an etch-a-sketch.

Close Up Photo of a Person playing with Etch-A-Sketchstar5112, Flickr

Snake – Cell Phone Game

Back when cell phones were still evolving, they had 1-3 games on them, depending on the device itself.

Snake is said to be one of the best cell phone games for its time, and was popular on Nokia phones.

Close Up Photo of Snake Cell Phone GameJames Hamilton-Martin, Flickr


While we’re getting a little nostalgic with toys and fun, pogs were like a little-kid currency back in the ‘90s. They were fun to collect, battle with, and trade.

In reality, they were just colorful cardboard discs, but they were awesome.

Overhead Photo of Simpsons Pogskafka4prez, Flickr

Newspaper Comics

Generation Z will likely never read the comics in the newspaper as they slurp down their morning cereal. Now they scroll through social media on their phones.

Calvin and Hobbes was an iconic comic strip by Bill Watterson.

Lancaster New Era Newspaper Announcing Comic Strip - Calvin and HobbesBrecht Bug, Flickr

Blockbuster Video

Since streaming has taken over, Generation Z will never know the joy of a trip to Blockbuster to rent movies.

With everything at their finger tips now, they also won’t ever know the disappointment of getting your hopes up for a new release and only to get there and find every single copy is already rented out.

Photo of Blockbuster Video on 1818 West State Street - Fremont, OhioNicholas Eckhart, Flickr

Marky Mark

Almost everyone can recognize Mark Wahlberg, but few of Generation Z will know he got his start as a rapper named 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."

Portrait Photo of Marky Mark in blue jeans and white sweater sitting on the floorPaul Natkin, Getty Images

Taking Backwards Phone Selfies

Generation Z will never know the skill it took to get the perfect selfie back in the day. Before front cameras, cell phones had to be turned around to get a selfie—and we would have to guess and hope we were in line with the camera lens.

Back view of red Nokia 6300 cell phone.old_s, Wikimedia Commons

VHS Tapes & VCR

Just like Blockbuster, Generation Z will also likely never watch a VHS tape or use a VCR. So, they’ll never know what it’s like to have to rewind a movie by hand.

Close Up Photo of Blockbuster VHS Tape placed on a VCR.Amtrak Guy 124, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Paper Maps

Generation Z will never experience the tension felt from the back seat while your mom and dad frantically searched through a large paper map the size of the entire dashboard to find which turn they missed.

Close Up Photo of Folding Road Map.Unknown Author, Pickpik


After the big paper maps came Map Quest—an online direction service where you could print step-by-step directions on paper to bring along on your road trip.

There was nothing more frustrating than realizing you forgot the Map Question directions at home.

Photo of Official MapQuest MapsChris Messina, Flickr

Burning CDs

Generation CD will very likely never burn a CD, or even know what that means.

Burning music to a CD took time and skill—and risked downloading viruses to your family’s desktop computer.

But, if you wanted a personalized playlist, this was what you had to do.

Close Up Photo of Person Putting a CD in a Computercottonbro studio, Pexels

Saturday Morning Cartoons

While Gen Z can still partake in this Saturday morning tradition, they will certainly experience it differently.

Back in the day, cartoons were a Saturday morning staple and children would wake up bright and early to catch their favorite cartoons as they aired on cable.

A small child watching television.Lisa-S, Shutterstock


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