Before the Battle Royale games and the SteamDeck, the world of PCs was very different. Monitors were the size of a mini fridge, and everything was very, VERY cream in colour. But there were also some really cool things that haven’t stood the test of time in the PC Hardware world. So, this is my ode to those pieces of hardware that some readers might not have even experienced. Here are 5 of my favourite retro PC things that make me miss the good old days.
1. CD Drives
Do you remember CDs? If your answer is no, maybe you are too young to be reading this. CDs were the core of PCs for the longest time. If you for some reason didn’t have a disc drive, you didn’t have a whole lot on your PC that was for sure. Everything came on a CD, from the latest Sims expansion pack to Adobe Photoshop. Getting that new game you’ve had your eye on, opening your CD drive and hearing that “reeeoow” sound just always filled me with so much excitement. While now, you wait for a game to download, back in the day, you waited patiently while the disc spun madly inside your PC, writing the files. Was installing things via disc annoying sometimes? Yes. Old discs especially were super easy to scratch and the tiniest thing could render your entire disc permanently un-readable. But there was something about holding the game you own in your hands that just made it that much more special than seeing them all in a list in your Steam.
2. Floppy Disks
Now if you don’t remember CDs, there is no way you remember these bad boys. I have a clear memory of the collection of Floppy Disks my Dad had, all of them living in this little clear box. Back when games and programs were less than 1mb in size, these bad boys were the main way of installing and sharing things. Like a CD drive, these disks were inserted into a Floppy Disk Drive that was in your PC. But it was removing the Floppy Disk that was my favourite thing. You pressed a small button under the slot, and it just shot right back out. It was seconds of fun.
3. Those chunky CRT monitors
If you want a monitor that’s thicker than your actual PC, then allow me to tell you about the CRT monitor. These chonkers were the pinnacle of PC monitors back in the day. Most of these guys came with an incredible… 800×600 resolution! The reason for their girthy appearance was due to the cathode-ray-tube, which was basically the backbone of its function. This vacuum tube was a rather long boy, which is why it needed so much space. The early 2000s brought about more accessible flat panel displays, ushering in the era of the LCD, plasma and OLED screens which are, lets be honest here, all FAR better. But I’ll always have a place in my heart for these old big boys.
4. Mouse balls
Look under your mouse… now look back to me. Unfortunately, your mouse no doubt has something called an optical sensor underneath. This is a fancy new invention that overtook the true back bone of the mouse world, the mouse ball. Prior to optical sensors, mice actually used a little ball (no I’m not kidding) that would physically roll around to tell the mouse which direction to move on your screen. It was weirdly endearing knowing that little guy rolling around in there was what was moving the mouse through the force of its own will. Despite all this though, was it incredibly annoying when the ball came out occasionally and rolled across the table, rendering the mouse entirely useless? Yes.
5. Booting up your PC with a switch
I’m honestly not too sure how commonplace this was, but this was a weirdly cool random feature one of my childhood PCs had. Instead of turning on via a button like 99% of systems, this particular PC turned on via a random orange switch. It was an entirely random feature that did absolutely nothing special. It didn’t make anything fancy light up or sing a song, but it was just cool to flip a switch and BOOM PC is on. That’s it.
So, there was 5 of my favourite retro PC things that make me miss the good old days.
List some of your favourite Retro PC things in the comments below. Should these things come back? Absolutely not. But are they fun to reminisce about? Sure. Now give me back my Mouse ball, I can’t play Space Pinball without it!
Anyway, while you’re still here, why not head over to our YouTube channel for more awesome content from us or even go and read an older post I made years back where I talked about some my favourite titles that I played on these very old PCs.