18 Things That Were Cool in the ‘90s But No One Cares About Anymore

The 1990s was an interesting decade, with the advance of alternative media, the birth of the modern internet, and the rise of new music movements. It also saw a number of fads that quickly fizzled out. Here are 18 things that were cool in the ‘90s but no one cares about anymore. 


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Browsing through Blockbuster and other local video stores for movies to rent was a hallmark of life in the ‘90s. Renters were told, “Be kind; please rewind” before returning their VHS tape for the next person. The advent and mass subscription to streaming services, including Netflix, in the 2010s led to the downfall of rental stores like Blockbuster, and now it only has one remaining store in Bend, Oregon.

Frosted Tips

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Frosted tips were one of the questionable trends of the ‘90s. Boy bands and celebrities, including Mark McGrath and Justin Timberlake, infamously sported them. Today, they are a relic of the decade and the early 2000s. 


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The Sony Walkman was hugely popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s, allowing people to listen to their music anywhere and create mixtapes. Stuff writes that the Walkman “was at the height of its popularity and a must-have for music lovers” in the ‘90s. Today, Sony still produces digital Walkmans, but digital music streaming services like Spotify are becoming more popular. 

American Boy Bands

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Boy bands, including the Backstreet Boys, Boy II Men, and N’Sync, dominated the ‘90s music scene and had an intense fanbase that packed out concerts. Today, American boy bands are less popular, and K-pop bands like BTS are cultural icons. 

Floppy Disks

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Floppy disks were the decade’s primary method of data storage and transfer for computer users before USB flash drives and, eventually, cloud storage rendered them obsolete. They were so ubiquitous that the floppy disk item remains a common save symbol. 

Neon Colors and Patterns 

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Neon colors and bold patterns, including color-block, dominated fashion, graphic design, and product design in the ‘90s. TV shows including Saved by the Bell and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air featured the decade’s bold graphics and wardrobe choices. Tastes have since shifted toward more subdued colors and minimalist designs. 

Chat Rooms and Instant Messaging

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Chat rooms and instant messaging were the ‘90s precursors to social media platforms, allowing internet users to discuss their interests in online communities anonymously. Today, platforms like Reddit and social media sites like Instagram are popular.

Dial-Up Internet

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Dial-up internet was the first way to access the commercial internet. It’s remembered for its slow internet speeds and requiring a landline, but it saw the birth of early online communities and chat rooms. The Drum explains that dial-up “took about 30 seconds to get connected—if you were lucky.” Today, dial-up is a relic fondly remembered by those who used the early internet. 

Y2K Panic 

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The international panic over the potential impacts of the “Millenium Bug” on computer systems was widespread in 1999. National Geographic explains that many believed that since computer systems had used a two-digit code for the year since their creation in the 1960s, “the systems would not interpret the ‘00’ correctly, therefore causing a major glitch in the system.” The event didn’t come to pass, and many people dismissed it as a hoax. 


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Bandai released its handheld digital pet, the Tamagotchi, in 1997 in America, and it soon became one of the biggest toy fads of the decade. Tamagotchi owners had to take care of their digital pets by feeding them, playing games, and cleaning up after them, quickly forming an emotional attachment. Today, Bandai still produces Tamagotchi and recently released a mobile game. 


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Beepers were essential tools for on-the-go communication for professionals in the 1990s. Mashable notes that they “gave users an easy way to convey information to someone, even if it didn’t guarantee an immediate response” and were a cheaper alternative to the more limited cell phones. Today, the ubiquity of smartphones has rendered beepers obsolete. 

Mixtapes and CD Burning

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In the ‘90s, creating mixtapes and later CD mixes was a form of personal expression and a way of sharing music with friends. Today, streaming services and digital playlists make the process easier and quicker.

Hypercolor T-Shirts 

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Smithsonian Magazine notes that the hypercolor t-shirt fad gripped America in 1991 and that Generra, the Seattle-based sportswear company behind them, “sold a whopping $50 million worth of color-changing, heat-sensitive” clothes between February and March. However, the color-changing clothes turned a permanent purple after a few washes, and the company declared bankruptcy a year later. 


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Arcades were social centers for gamers in the early ‘90s. Games like Tekken, NBA Jam, and Killer Instinct were featured in arcades nationwide, and many of them are still enjoyed by gamers today. Arcades are less common today, but there has been a resurgence of interest in retro gaming.

Grunge Music

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Grunge music was a phenomenon in the early ‘90s, and bands like Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam signed to major label records and became superstars. Grunge fashion also broke into the mainstream, but the grunge movement had faded by the end of the decade. 

Encyclopedias and Physical Reference Books 

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In the early ‘90s, encyclopedias and reference books were the primary sources of information for students and those looking to educate themselves on a subject. Today, printed reference materials are less popular, and students use digital encyclopedias like Britannica and Wikipedia. 

The Dot-com Bubble

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Investopedia writes that the “dotcom bubble was a rapid rise in U.S. technology stock equity valuations fueled by investments in Internet-based companies in the late 1990s.” The bubble burst in 2001, and several internet companies went bust. 

Cable TV and Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs)

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In the ‘90s, cable TV dictated viewing schedules for TV shows, and VCRs were widely used to record live shows. Today, cable is less popular, with more people using YouTube and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime to watch TV series and movies.

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