This is a rare stream-of-consciousness entry on this blog. Most posts are labored over time and time again, rich with links, complete with pictures and an attempt at a witty ending. Not this time. This is purely stream-of-consciousness.

I just saw a few ads that looked like they came from a different era. I’m susceptible to design, so perhaps it was the Garamond typeface, which was ubiquitous in the days of early Apple, when computers were beige. Perhaps it was the color choices, which seemed old-fashioned — deeply saturated, chosen for paper. But I found it comforting and disconcerting at the same time. I was thrown for a loop.

I felt like it was 1993 all over again.

Ah, 1993. When laser printers were still relatively expensive and scarce, when computers were slow, and when you could still find a Linotronic or phototypesetter in a production environment; an era when faxes would be placed on your chair as a courtesy because the information was urgent; when a tattered paper Index Medicus lay on many desks; when FedEx was expensive and also a sign of urgency; and when cell phones were big and often had cords (remember those car phones?). The Weather Channel was still about the current weather, and not yet filled with hour-long dramatic re-enactments. Minivans and SUVs had not overwhelmed us. States had not been recast as red or blue. Nobody Googled. Cars had tape decks. Bernoulli and Zip drives were competing for storage supremacy. Floppy disks were getting smaller, but your computer still had two drive bays. Reality TV shows didn’t exist. There were no iPods, podcasts, or Facebook. There was no, eBay, or MySpace. There were no text messages, emoticons, or thumb typing. Newspapers were still the best source of the latest news. We still didn’t quite know why modems mattered.

At work, there was no email to speak of in 1993. Only the IT folks got to play with stuff like that. Desks were covered with colored pens, floppy disks (remember the plastic storage bins?), and plenty of paper. It was the days of waxing machines for gridded layouts, couriers, and bluelines. Freehand and Quark ruled the desktop, as did Photoshop (some things haven’t changed). Color proofs were usually four acetate sheets registered into a proof packet. Pantone books littered desks.

There were no blogs. Typesetting was a craft, and you couldn’t get published in any respectable place without going through a typesetter. Fonts still had real names, not Microsoft knock-off names.

It was only 15 years ago, but 1993 seems quaint. FedEx (with it’s plastic receipt slot on the front and forms in triplicate) and faxes (the smell of hot fax paper and the feel of it). Linotypes and bluelines. Typesetters. Printers who had to insert the photos for us. Telephone calls instead of emails. Walking over to your colleagues’ desks instead of IM’ing them. There were more chemicals in the air, I’ll wager. People moved around more to get stuff done. Traffic wasn’t as bad.

OK, sorry, that’s all the time I have. I can see new emails building up already, and I can publish this right now.

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Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.


6 Thoughts on "Suddenly, It’s 1993!"

Ahh 1993, when the music charts were dominated by Garth Brooks, Kenny G., and Janet Jackson. When Eric Clapton was making yet another comeback, and the song “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston filled the airways…and disastrously imprinted itself in my longterm memory. At least you could fit your floppy discs in your fanny pack, or inside the pocket that was reserved for those fashionable shoulder pads, already going out of style.

in 1993 novell was still a real force in the networking marketplace, and groupwise the cadillac of secure mail systems for the windows platform. the only feasible database package for non-industrial use was paradox for windows, and it cost over $800. music files were faaar too huge to put on one’s hard drive, and we still had to take our film to a processor to be developed and printed. we still needed to have the cd with us if we wanted tunes on the road, we listened to them on equipment that was hard to lose but easy to break, bunches of people were still using their cassette walkmen to listen to mix-tapes from their friends, and the riaa was hassling exactly *no one* about it.

1993 was actually a big year for the internet and the birth of the web. It was the year Gopher jumped the shark, and the year Mosaic was born. While the University of Minnesota was announcing they would charge licensing fees for the use of Gopher, Mark Andreessen at the University of Illinois was posting the first version of Mosaic for free download. 1993 was also the year of the “endless September” when AOL unleashed their great unwashed users on Usenet groups. The endless September is symbolic of the opening of the web and what has been a never-ending stream of new uncivilized users in the internet community. For you young uns, Usenet groups were the real 1.0 version of community (or would that be -1.0?)

1993. The year I graduated from High School.

Our computer class consisted of DOS programs, using Word Perfect, dBase IV, Lotus 1-2-3. We had only 8 characters to name files with.

I think I have a post like this somewhere on my blog too. ~sigh~

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