It’s intriguing how easily certain sounds can invoke deep nostalgia. Whether these old tech sounds bring back a longing for the past, or give rise to pent up frustrations and impatience, they’re certainly the sounds of a bye-gone era.
Over the past few decades, technology has invaded every facet of our lives. This invasion has inevitably been intertwined with a host of sounds and jingles that can separate generations. The Windows start up sound, for instance, has gone through a fascinating evolution.
Where now we have the smooth glides of an inkjet, we used to bear the screeching of a dot matrix. Where we now enjoy the soothing harmonies of default ringtones, we used to have the squealing beeps of the Nokia. The list, as you can see below, goes on.
Which of the following, aged tech sounds, do you remember? Which other sounds take you back?
Waiting To Save A Document
One of the greatest contributions to increased patience during the 90s, I believe, was the incessant waiting required whenever you had to use a Floppy Disk. That <1.44mb of data, sauntering onto your desktop, accompanied by this iconic sound. Bliss. Believe it or not, floppy disks still have their uses today.
Powering Up The PS1
Within 9 years and six months of its launch on December 3 1994, Sony had shipped more than 100 million units of the first generation PlayStation. Imagine the number of psyches this short sound sequence must have burrowed into.
Connecting To Dial-Up
This sound signals those tentative few seconds where you’d find out if you could actually connect today. And if you did, that’d mean no calls would be able to make it to your landline. For some then, this sound signals trepidation. For others, it’s the sound of the Internet revolution just beginning.
Calling A Busy Number
Rather than being forwarded to voicemail, this is the frustrating sound we had to deal with when the person we were trying to converse with was too busy to reciprocate.
Either this, or Super Mario, may just be the most iconic video game soundtrack ever written. As soon as it’s heard, the tricks of the dedicated Tetris maestro will pour forth from forgotten memories to spawn a new addiction. Luckily, the game is still available on iOS and Android. There are plenty of other similar games you can play for free online, too.
Chatting On MSN Messenger
For those, like me, who’s early teenage years were based around an unhealthy obsession with MSN Messenger, these are the sounds of early adolescence. And for our parents, these are likely the infuriating noises they’d hear hundreds, if not thousands, of times from when the kids got home from school until they went to bed.
Watching A Film
The whirr of vintage film projectors is now usually only heard in movies. But to hear that sound in real life, with the flickering images springing into life; this is a sound that for so many promised an escape, an entirely new experience, and the guarantee of a perfect hour or two.
Playing On The Sega Megadrive/Genesis
Millions of game marathons were destined to begin with this quick, yet serious sound. As soon as it was heard, it was game-on. The competition had begun.
Receiving An Email
Back when receiving an email was the equivalent of receiving a hand-written letter, the famous “You’ve Got Mail” sound was an exciting occurrence. Thank God we don’t still have this today. Hearing this two hundred times per day may well drive one to the edge of insanity.
Playing Marioland on The Gameboy
As mentioned earlier, this soundtrack is likely one of, if not the, most iconic ever created, and will serve to define childhood for so many people. All hail the original Gameboy!
Watching A Slideshow
From the classrooms of schools around the world, to presentations at the Royal Geographic Society, these are the sounds that would have accompanied the photo exhibitions we were obliged to sit through. It’s a cozy sound, no doubt. But it also makes one reminisce of boredom and tedium. Now, we have far more complex ways to present our photo slideshows.
Receiving an ICQ Message
Being one of the first Instant Messaging services, ICQ was later bought out be AOL, enabling it to reach a mass audience within the company’s community. The memorable “uh-oh” notification sound may have been a well-placed prediction as to how we would react to notifications in 2015.
Printing With a Dot-Matrix
I was delighted to
see hear a dot-matrix printer still being used in a visa office last year in India. The sound echoed through the room, punctuating the stuffy silence with its higgledy-piggledy grinds and scrapes.
Booting Up Amiga
Released in 1993, the Amiga CD32 was the first CD-ROM based home video console. It’s rumored that 38% of CDs sold during the Chrismas period following its launch were for the Amiga. Unfortunately, this sound was destined to die out with the overshadowing popularity of the CD-ROM.
Taking A Polaroid
Polaroid cameras really were beasts. Just like the selling point of VW Golfs is now the durable sound the door makes when it’s shut, the same can be said of the sounds of the Polaroid. These cameras were built to last, and the memories of the sounds it made certainly have. This can be said for other instant cameras too, with some still being used to make a difference in poor communities.
Dialing a Rotary Phone
Before buttons took over the world, we used to do this to make a phone call. It was all good fun in practice, but it you were in a rush, things could get a little frustrating.
Starting Up & Crashing Your Mac
The startup sound of the Mac; exciting. We couldn’t wait to get started. The crash sound; terrifying.
Rewinding a VCR Cassette
When you realized you’d missed a few minutes of your favourite movie, and had to rewind the cassette a few minutes, a game ensued. Trying to press STOP at he exact time that you wanted was a skill to be perfected, though the risk of having the VCR player chew up your tape was never far from your mind.
Logging In To Windows 95
Before Apple started taking on the world, Windows were an unconquerable force, and during the mid-to-late-90s, this was their anthem. In fact, some say that Windows 95 still rocks.
Losing Signal On The TV
If you ever had to turn up the volume on an old TV to hear the sound, only to lose the signal sporadically, you know the near-heart-attack that this piercing sound can cause. No wonder it’s so often used in horror movies.
Receiving a Call On Your Nokia
The fame (and infamy) of the original Nokia ringtone is difficult to overestimate. It was, for all intent and purposes, Nokia’s tag line, and the robustness of the robotic sound was testiment the brick-like build and lifespan of these amazing pieces of tech.
Tapping On The Typewriter
Just a few decades ago, the heavy clanking of a typewriter was the true sound of beurocracy. The sound of 20 or more of these devices used in unison was deafening. Now, they’re a hipster’s dream. To write prose on a vintage typewriter, using liquid ink as your delete button. Pure heaven.
Loading a ZX Spectrum
In the 80s, this 8-bit home computer was open to true geeks only. With upto 128kb of RAM, and games on Floppy Disks, this was undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with.
Turning On The XT Hard Drive
It’s easy to overlook how far hard-drives have come in the past 10-15 years. From their noisy, overheating, heavy beginnings, they’ve grown into something far more mellow, understated, and fast.
An Evening on Space Invaders
Ah, the robotic sounds of Space Invaders on an Atari (circa 1980). These truly are the archetypal video sounds. This version of the game rocketed the company’s sales, and became the first “killer app” on home consoles.
Which Other Sounds Take You Back?
Now this trip down memory lane is over, what do you think of the way these sounds have evolved? Do you prefer the old beeps and buzzes, or the new calming, more “realistic” synths and chords? Do they fill you with fond memories, or did you always rush to turn the sounds down, or off? Lastly, Which other sounds did we miss off this list?
Image Credits:Laying on sofa by Milles Vector Studio via Shutterstock