It’s a Different World

As I was reflecting back on the tragedy of 9/11, I was struck by how different our world is today from what it was just twenty years ago. Especially from a technology perspective.

In September 2001, nobody had a smartphone, unless you considered the earliest generation of BlackBerry phones to be “smart.” And if you wanted to take a picture back then, you needed to have a dedicated device known as a camera and you had to load the camera with film and send it out to be developed. Now photography, except for the old school purists, is done mostly on smartphones and it’s virtually all digital.

If you wanted to access the internet — known then as the World Wide Web — in the days before broadband was widely available, you had to connect via what was known as “dial-up,” which used a telephone landline to connect to the internet. This meant that you could only use either the phone line or the internet at the same time. Prehistoric, right?

Social media didn’t really exist back then. In 2001 Microsoft released MSN Messenger and Friendster was in its infancy. No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, or Tik Tok. No YouTube. Not even WordPress, which started up in May 2003. Texting wasn’t even a word in 2001. And if you said the word “emoji,” people would think you were speaking a foreign language.

In 2001, you could subscribe to Netflix and have DVDs of movies delivered to your home. You remember DVDs right? They superseded video cassette tapes that you would get at your local video store. Remember? Netflix’s streaming service was introduced six years after 9/11. And that flat screen, high def TV you probably watch Netflix on were just introduced in the late 1990s and had barely scratched the surface of television sales.

Google was a relative newcomer to the search engine field. The most popular search engines at the time were Yahoo, AltaVista, Lycos, and Excite. I even remember using Ask Jeeves!

In 2001, biometrics like facial recognition were in their infancy. Now every smartphone uses facial recognition to unlock it. Alexa and Siri were girl’s names. “The cloud” was a weather term.

Tracking someone by satellite via street cameras or GPS on their phone still seemed like science fiction. If you needed to figure out a route to get from point A to point B, you needed a physical map. The Garmin Street Pilot was one of the first standalone GPS devices, and that was introduced in the late 90s. It wasn’t until 2005 that Google Maps was introduced as a desktop utility and as a smartphone app in 2008.

Security at airports was mostly privately run, and may have included walking through a metal detector. Passengers could take baseball bats and blades up to 4 inches long on the plane. Family members could go through security to the gate to say goodbye. Identification wasn’t always required and nobody took off their shoes. Passengers typically needed to arrive only 30 minutes before their scheduled flight time.

These are just a few of the changes that occurred to me off the top of my head. How about you? How different is your life today due to technology than it was just twenty short years ago?

35 thoughts on “It’s a Different World

  1. Taswegian1957 September 11, 2021 / 4:45 pm

    Dial Up internet. Who doesn’t remember that sound? How nice it was to switch to broadband and have internet whenever we wanted it. Our dial up plan only allowed us to be connected for a maximum of five hours and between the two of us that was not always enough.
    Online shopping has grown such a lot since those days too. I first joined eBay in 1998, the US one as the Australian one did not yet exist. I loved it. I was starting up my doll collection and suddenly I could buy all these dolls from the USA that were never on sale in Australia. Shipping was usually about $10 and the exchange rate about $A1 =$US0.80. I don’t buy much from overseas now because of shipping rates. eBay has changed too as it is now the home of major retailers who often have bricks and mortar stores (or used to). The hobby sellers I used to buy from are harder to find. Everyone seems to be running an online business. I can’t remember when I first heard of Amazon but I think they only sold books back then.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marleen September 12, 2021 / 1:24 am

      You’ve reminded me that I’m newly a customer on Etsy.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango September 11, 2021 / 5:05 pm

      I do too, but haven’t used it in years. I use Google Maps on my iPhone.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula Light September 11, 2021 / 5:07 pm

    Paper maps, landline phones… I did have a bulky mobile phone early on, but mostly never used it. We had the newspaper delivered. Read dead tree books too…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango September 11, 2021 / 5:13 pm

      I still have the newspaper delivered. 😏

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marleen September 11, 2021 / 5:29 pm

        I was having the weekend newspaper delivered at that time. And I had only recently made coffee a habit — only on weekends. (I’d enjoyed homemade cold drip iced coffee with milk and sugar and an occasional purchase of coffee long before just as a treat. And I had always liked the smell of coffee brewing. From early childhood, although it’s not an odor from my childhood home.) A lot of my reaction to this topic is going to be measured up against the fact that I moved out of an already tech-savvy environment in 2003…

        I owned a cozy🧵blue sweatshirt with lime or electric green stitching depicting the molecular chemistry of caffeine.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Marleen September 11, 2021 / 5:44 pm

      Someone close to me just (within less than a couple weeks from today) bought an electric car with a map display that looks, to my eyes, to be the shape and size of an old-style folded-up paper map (from at least the seventies and eighties and onward); I like that. When something like a stereo station is being displayed, there is a theme of yellowed, upright, cathode ray tubes; I also like that.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Fandango September 11, 2021 / 8:41 pm

        Mine has an indicator that tells me how many miles I can drive before I have to recharge the battery, but instead of being shaped like a plug, it’s a gas pump.


        • Marleen September 11, 2021 / 10:02 pm

          That’s fun. I haven’t looked at the recharge indicator for this car, yet. It’s interesting to hear about the “trickle” charge at home, really fast charging at certain dedicated stations (such as the closest place near me being a bank), and medium access to having gotten charged inside a symphony hall parking lot.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Fandango September 11, 2021 / 10:09 pm

            I put a charging station in my garage. It’s not super fast like you find at commercial charging stations, but it’s about 8 times faster than the “trickle” charge using a regular home outlet.


            • Marleen September 12, 2021 / 12:17 am

              Eight times is good.

              Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango September 11, 2021 / 8:46 pm

      It was slow!


  3. Sadje September 11, 2021 / 6:48 pm

    The world has changed so much with new technology. Me, I was 20 years younger than. I’d say I was young as 30 is young for an almost 60 year old!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. imagineambition September 11, 2021 / 7:02 pm

    Gotta disagree with the camera. I already had my first digital camera.
    I think MapQuest existed. You could dial up the website and print directions to where you were going.
    I think that’s the year I discovered Xanga… Which no longer exists.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. K.Hartless September 11, 2021 / 7:20 pm

    I’d say one of the biggest differences is that I’m connected with people all over the world using whats app and word press. I have a strong addiction to new music feeds. I enjoy looking things up with a tap of the fingers instead of time in the library. I was in college in 2001, and I thought 9-11 was a radio hoax at first. I remember calling and getting a busy signal. I miss the busy signal. Think we should be able to turn that feature back on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • trishsplace September 11, 2021 / 7:53 pm

      Yeah, bring back the busy signal. I’d sign that petition 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango September 11, 2021 / 8:50 pm

      I’d turn on a busy signal feature and leave it on! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marleen September 11, 2021 / 10:06 pm

        Smartest idea ever. (I love phones but answer only to the most important numbers.)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. trishsplace September 11, 2021 / 7:56 pm

    In 2019, I was surprised at the airport when I was departing Melbourne for an extended stay in Ireland. My husband was coming later, but he dropped me at the airport. We’d planned him coming through security and waiting with me at the gate. It was a surprise that he couldn’t.
    We always travel together, so hadn’t noticed that new rule.
    And we’d had a three and a half hour drive to the airport, which meant he had a three and a half hour drive home. If we’d known he wasn’t able to hang around, I would have taken the train 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Marleen September 11, 2021 / 8:12 pm

    I bought my own first smartphone on Inauguration Day, 2009. My oldest son had already had kind of a silly amount of cell phones (starting since before 2001) to include at least one smartphone and several cameras in the phones (and I’d had one that wasn’t a smartphone and didn’t have a camera before); he was always driven to the cutting edge, and I enabled him… even sat in line to buy the very first iPhone for him. He’s still driven to the cutting edge and has taken off as the best tech implementer anyone could want for a large business. I recall evaluating how good of a camera I might want within a new phone (and went head first when it seemed Apple had made this a non-issue any more). Of course, we additionally had at least two phone lines for the home. I might pursue two phone lines here, now; I’m a fan of faxing and other uses. I was once-in-a-while using what I think was called instant messaging back in 2001; there was no habit in it for me. However, my oldest son had been meeting and regularly communicating with people across the world [yet married a girl from across town]. And he’d found Napster (that’s a whole* “other” thing). Movies had jumped in quality that year (almost two and a-half years prior to 2001), too, with “The Mattix.”

    {* A flash in time goes across my memory of my son asking me which cds would be good to get from a recordings club — a type of “club” I’d joined sometime in my youth. At that moment, I didn’t know (a year or so later, however, I discovered new realms I’d been missing). Meanwhile, who needed to be mailed recordings any longer? He figured this out, and it was a much larger universe of music for it. We used to stand in long lines to get some of the best seats at blockbuster movies on opening day. Music was and is a big part of this, too. My second son has the Klipsch speakers I used back in 2001; they’re still great. }

    I got on with making the most of googling and YouTube from the beginning, and I was an early in with Netflix (as a user while I wish I’d had the cash to invest in both Netflix and Google then as I did see the success coming). I didn’t purchase my own hi-def tv until George W [Pres. Bush the second] gave me a special tax rebate. (Again, though, my oldest son had already obtained one. A big one he had in his bedroom.) More recently, I can see YouTube on my big television. I remember internet road directions being a running joke when I’d print them off and then still have to ask for directions because they were wrong. I remember the Google cars going around taking pictures.

    My second son is more firmly into the new world of finding relationship via distance, in his case first through gaming and conferences.{+} I rejected Facebook (as I’d been against “The Patriot Act” breach of principle before that) right out of the gate. I hate the airport security changes, other than not allowing knives or box cutters; hate is a strong word. I’m very much in favor of stringent separation between cabin and the cockpit. I do NOT use either the finger-print or facial-recognition aspects of unlocking my phone and will be pissed if the ability for using a code or password is ever taken away. If I heard somone say “emoji” back in 2001, I’d have thought a person was emo. 🖤

    That would’ve already been a reunderstandering, let’s say, of those three letters together — as I’d had a beloved young third grade teacher whose last name was Emo. I now often wear my hair the way she did. There are treasured pizza places, too, in Saint Louis (which have spread out to some cities in neighboring states), named Emo’s Pizza… Imo’s. Plus tributes, by other names, with the Saint Louis salad and some Saint Louis toppings. After decades beyond elementary age, I might’ve wondered if “an emoji” was a person who was emo (darkly emotional), which has nothing to do with the pizza or my very nice first teacher at a public school. These days, “homeschooling” breezes out of many a mouth.

    {+ I never got very into gaming as an activity to which I applied time or effort. Yet, I had no hard feelings about video games. I paid attention to redeeming aspects and details. All my sons have done a lot with them, certainly more so when they were younger. Two (3rd and the 4th) stay in contact across an ocean that way, to this day. My second first came into contact with cryptocurrency in this context. He recently realized he should dig out whatever he had with storage of his earnings (before “it goes down in value” again, I added). I’ve invested not in Bitcoin or any of those so to speak, but in a company that runs one.}

    My last thought?

    Turntables are back in style!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Hetty Eliot September 11, 2021 / 8:42 pm

    Something very sad which strikes me when watching news footage from 9/11 is how dated everything looks now, when you observe the fashions. It really hits home that it’s been a long time now.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. CARAMEL September 12, 2021 / 3:13 pm

    So many of the things you mentioned, I have heard of, but have never used. But yes, there have been a lot of advancements in the tech industry for those who want to use them.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Terveen Gill September 13, 2021 / 5:07 am

    So much has changed. Seems like a techno invasion. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. leigha66 September 22, 2021 / 4:42 pm

    That is a lot of changes! I did have a brick phone back then but nothing like the smart phones of today. It was a little while before I got my digital camera… but the first smart phone I got took better pictures than it. Ha, ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Maryanne September 26, 2021 / 7:53 am

    The only change I like is the GPS. It’s empowered me as a woman who often drives alone for my career. I’m not a fan of smart phones or social media. I’m currently writing a book called “The 1990s: The Last Romantic Era” (which of course leads a bit into the very early 2000s). Friendships were more authentic and everything wasn’t on hyper speed. I would love to go to lunch with another woman without her wiping out photos on her phone. Don’t show me your daughter’s promo pictures – tell me about it with words! Did she get her first kiss? What was the best part of the evening, that was in real time without a phone in someone’s face? I recently told all my friends and family, I’m taking a hiatus from Messenger (on Facebook) and emails. (And I never texted – had a smart phone for 6 months, got rid of that ball and chain!) If people want to get in touch, they can call me. My husband doesn’t do social media. His male friends, of all ages, call all the time. It can be done! He’s a great example.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Carol anne October 9, 2021 / 7:01 am

    well, the screen reader I use to access my PC was only in its infancy in 2001. I now use alexa and siri, I couldnt back then. I had a nokia phone, damn, that seems so long ago now. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

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