The World Before Cell Phones

The World Before Cell Phones

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Kids these days have no idea just how good they’ve got it, and the older generations have mostly forgotten how downright harsh the world was before cell phones. Here, we’ll take a look at what things were like before we all had pocket supercomputers. MapQuest? Payphones? Oh—the horror. Welcome to The World Before Cell Phones!

5. Used Payphones
Don’t know what a payphone is? You must be fairly young. Payphones were real things, and if you were ever out and about before cell phones and needed to call someone, you’d stop at a payphone, put your change in, and make your call. They were everywhere, on almost every block, up until technology began to take off. As of 2018, there were around 100,000 payphones left in the U.S. Most of the remaining can be found in New York City, which isn’t a huge surprise, and, in time, we’re sure they are going to become another thing of the past. Thanks, cell phones.

4. Played Board Games
That’s right. Once upon a time, people would play board games more often than once every few months when the idea popped into their heads. It was fairly common for people to play a fair amount of them and, you know, fraternize with other people. They didn’t have access to any games on their cell phones because they didn’t have cell phones in the first place. And the games on early phones were nothing like the things one can play today! Does anybody remember Snake? Brick Breaker? We miss those old games.

3. Owned Gameboys
If you went back just a few years, you would be able to find what’s called a “Gameboy.” Many kids now probably know nothing of the technology, but it’s what we had to play games on before everyone had cell phones. They were these awesome, plastic, handheld gaming devices that could play all kinds of games, but get this; you had to buy the games separately and individually, as they did not come programmed into the Gameboy. Crazy, right? You’d play one game, turn off your device, pull out your game, put in another, and switch it on, over and over throughout the day, and it was great! We couldn’t just back out of our game, click on another, and start playing. Even farther back, kids were stuck playing video games inside their houses or in an arcade. Can you imagine?

2. Used Their Phones As Phones
Maybe that doesn’t make much sense, but when you think about somebody using their cell phone, what do you picture? Are they talking on the phone, or are they texting? Or maybe they’re checking their Instagram or other social media? Back in the day, people with phones used them as phones, because at one point in time, all they could do was make a phone call on them. Then, things came around to where you could customize your home phone; you could personalize your ringtone, add contacts, and mess around with various settings. Then came the cell phone. For a time, even cell phones were phone calls only. Then came texting and look where we are now. The future.


  1. mike rice on March 24, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    Movie and TV shows before cell phones

  2. Ricky Hunt on March 24, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    I’m 29 one of my favorite things to do was go to a CD store and look for music or turn on MTV, VH1, or Fuse and watch music videos something I really miss.

  3. Ricky Hunt on March 24, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Also not related to this but I remember being a kid and waking up on saturday mornings fixing a bowl of cereal and watching cartoons for hours. Something else that is missing today.

  4. Christopher Edison on March 24, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Mapquest OMG lol

  5. Christopher Edison on March 24, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    I’m 36 n I remember life before cellphones life was happier then and you had to think for yourself but now anything you need to know your brain automatically says "Google it"

  6. Marie Katherine on March 24, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    Guess what? I still memorize phone #s. What if your phone breaks or is lost and you have to borrow someone else’s? I also use old fashioned maps and atlases. There are many remote places with no WiFi. Um, I still use yellow cabs at night. I’m ancient. I know shorthand, can use a literal dial phone, have been on a party line, use pay phone, can use a teletype and monitorless computer. Anyone remember punch cards? Punch tape? Huge, accordion folded computer paper with the sprocket holes on the edges? I also still have a flip phone. It works.

    The last time I sat alone was this afternoon, sitting on a rock with my feet in a brook. My phone was locked in the glovebox of my car. I was camping in a place with no phone signal for about 10 miles.

    All I know is when the SHTF, and the grid goes down, lots of people will want my services!

  7. Bluebeard2011 on March 24, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    i miss real communication as to when smartphones came out families changed born 61 and a bag of biscuits cost 1 cent icecream and movies with popcorn even just 20 cents for the lot. we walked to school safely as well if you need the phone we walked a block away to use a payphone. trains where steam engines swimming pools were timbers placed in square shape in the lake to protect us from sharks. dad had a 1936 Austin freeway even then was a classic now I’m fixing one up. we had milk boys that would hand out free milk at recess. man, i miss the old days and don’t forget the toilet man that carried our poo and pee in a big bucked on his shoulder every week i don’t miss that dunny wee had ice delivered every week for our fridge. my second job was an ice boy making that same ice

  8. jplasmid on March 24, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    math on paper, long division, memorizing times tables…Saturday morning cartoons…Wiffle Ball. Playing with the street kids and knowing all my neighbors, SchoolHouse Rock, a phone on my kitchen wall with a 10 foot cord, carburetors, card games, people in general having a backbone, cassette tapes, rock music, car windows you rolled down manually…I could go on and on…technology SUCKS and will be the ultimate downfall of humanity…so sad 🙁

  9. Martha Mika on March 24, 2020 at 2:37 pm

    Miss talking to my husband cause he is on the phone playing games

  10. Judy Giovannetti on March 24, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    I am # 21, enjoyed this video very much, yeah, took me as far back as party lines, you would pick up an hear someone talking, you said, oppps sorry, it was a kind of understandable language that you don’t stay on for more than 5 minutes, so the other family ccould use it!

  11. ETHIKALmom on March 24, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    I miss going from payphone to payphone in NYC looking for one that actually damn worked or wasn’t occupied them NY blocks are long too haha

  12. Come To Butthead on March 24, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Remember when there was no pizza delivery…

  13. Jermaine Ortiz on March 24, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    In those days i had a Gameboy,GameGear, A sony walkman. It was a whole lot of fun buying batteries for all of them. Thats what i miss more. On the upside kids was more creative back then we played games and build club houses things like that.

  14. ConservativeAtheist on March 24, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    I was born in 1970 & I recall everyone joking about anyone who bought a “Pager” that they must be a drug dealer!…lol! I miss arcades however a few still exist Dave & Busters for example.

  15. Kate Daly on March 24, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    I remember all of those items memories

  16. mike rice on March 24, 2020 at 2:58 pm

    you need help and no way to call for help . Are to bring stuff are to find some one .

  17. Agent Darkness on March 24, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    Do you want to know what I miss the most? I miss physical media, that’s right, I think we should still have physical media like CDs but if we don’t have CDs why can’t we have something because I preserve old media. I take cassettes and vinyl records and put them onto a CD so that I can have something tangible, downloads are great two but what if your music gets deleted especially hard to fine songs. What if your music is deleted and you have no way to retrieve it? Plus I just think that it’s a good idea to have the best of both worlds, I also think that we need to have radio like it was back in the day because that’s what I miss the most to, A.m. in FM radio is garbage now, there are no live DJs, no live requests on the telephone everything is automated now. Downloads have their advantages, because I can take my phone or iPod on the road with me and listen to music as long as I want, but I’d rather still have physical tangible media and I would leave that at home I do collect CDs cassettes and records too. I leave all that stuff at home I also make my own CDs from YouTube and places like Apple Music, it’s great to do that, but downloads also have their disadvantages because if you don’t have any tangible media then what do you do when it all goes south, you cannot put all your eggs in one basket.

  18. ETHIKALmom on March 24, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    I had a pokemon gameboy and a case yo!

  19. Angela Bay-Jespersen on March 24, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    Lol, I’m 56 and absolutely remember time before cell phones. I miss the face to face contact, the face to face conversations when people actually focused on what you were saying and then you focused on them to hear their answer. There was so much more to a conversation then… All those little signals you would pick up… You know… Body language… Lol. I also miss the family outings that were planned meticulously, the food you’d think about taking in advance because you couldn’t Google what would be available along the way so you are actually ate home made food. You would get to your picnic destination and before and after eating would play games and explore with each other

    Oh and there was even more planning. You, or, for those of us who were even younger then, your mum and dad (usually dad in those days) would go and fill up the petrol tank in the car the night before because petrol stations weren’t open 24/7.

    Speaking of which, I miss when you could go to a petrol station but then it was called a service station beside that’s what you got..Service. They would fill your tank, wash your windscreen and other windows if you asked, take your money into the shop and then bring you your change!! Now I drive, one of the things I miss the most about the old service stations, is that they always had a mechanic’s shop attached so if you broke down you only needed to get to the local or nearest service station and the mechanic would be completely happy to help You out, ON THE SPOT, no bookings necessary (unless it was a dire problem)..

    Oh, and I remember making mixed tapes by recording those "special" songs from the radio to give to that someone special. Even better was reviving one of those "mixed tapes" made especially for you!

    I remember so many things, family board game nights, reading nights when mum (usually) would read out loud a story you’d been waiting to hear… Maybe an Enid Blyton famous five or secret seven book… Then, beside the characters in that did their own cooking we’d do that too… Cooking together in the kitchen… None of this rushing in and out, everyone grabbing food when it suited them. Dinner was definitely a family occasion, EVERY night. So many things… But I’ll stop here and let someone else have a say … 😂😂😂 BUT, thanks for the trip down memory lane with this post!!! 😘

  20. Angelica Angela Galdos on March 24, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    I remember the World before smart phones and DVDS among certain things that a 32 yr old would know. Car windows you roll up and down. The kinda simple life before today’s kids gotten spoiled with mordern technology.

  21. mike rice on March 24, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Face to Face

  22. ElvisnRick on March 24, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    from Perth Australia born 1961. Up to age 26 years , cell/mobile phone were non existent and the first one was around 1985 the size of a briefcase and only someone wealthy could afford one and all it could do was make 2 minute calls . All major shopping stores would close by 6pm daily and not open on weekends. There was no public transport after 9pm . we only had 3 TV stations to choose from and they would stop transmitting before midnight, no one had a color tv until around 1971 , so prior it was only black/white tv.. No take away food places either after 7pm . We usually ate what we had in the fridge and mainly walked everywhere. No body was fat back then . If someone had a car most would have street directories map books . Some people could afford camera’s but you’d have to wait a week to get the film developed.. Only various homes would have a phone ( rotary dial ) but most had to walk half a mile to use a old phone box , phone hand piece usually covered in dirt/grime and other "suspicious" sticky gooey things, sometimes if you were lucky you’d find a phone book in there but half the pages were missing or covered in more filth, but you’d be always grateful if the phone even worked ok. Internet came around late 90’s and it took a computer 5 minutes to download a simple photo…Things overall only started improving with appliances or technology around late 80’s but Australia was always about 10 years behind USA , so it was very very slow process here ….but would luv to get a time machine…grab a self entitled spoiled millennial ‘snowflake" that thinks "life is hard" and drop then off in the 60’s/70s in Australia and see how they cope …lol