20 Quintessential Baby Boomer Things That Would Leave Gen Z Scratching Their Heads

As times change and evolve, so do our daily routines. Because of this, some things that baby boomers grew up with, like paper maps, VHS tapes, video rental stores, and more, have become obsolete and are relics to Gen Z. However, understanding these things is critical to knowing how far we’ve come as humans and how far we’ll go in the future!

Using Paper Maps for Direction

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Nowadays, we use mobile applications like Google Maps, Waze, and the like to help us get from one place to another—be it by foot or car. However, during baby boomers’ time, people had no other option but to use paper maps to figure out where they were, where they were going, and what steps they needed to take to get there.

Watching Through VHS Tapes

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Videos can be found anywhere today—from our Smart TVs to our phones to even billboards. However, it wasn’t the same as when baby boomers used VHS tapes, which means Video Home System. It was the dominant video format for those who wanted to watch videos at home from the ‘70s to the early 2000s. Kodak Digitizing shares, “For those of us who remember the ‘good ol’ days, ’ we remember the massive storage containers and entertainment centers that populated suburban homes; everyone wanted a way to organize and store their VHS collection, like a proud library of books in their home theater spaces.”

The Need for TV Antennas and Having Limited TV Channels

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In the 1970s, when baby boomers were growing up, there were only four broadcast television networks in the United States: CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS. Aside from the limited TV channels, for you to be able to watch clearly, you must also fix and find the best arrangement or position of your TV antenna. Tablo TV explains, “Back in the day, antenna TV was analog, and if your reception wasn’t perfect, even the largest ball of tinfoil applied to the antenna couldn’t prevent a snowy picture.”

Having No Other Option but the Dial-up Internet

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The internet is a normal and necessary part of everyday life today, but it wasn’t so in the 1970s. In fact, the term “internet” was only coined in 1973, and the first internet service provider, Telenet, was only established in 1974. The internet itself, however, only became slightly more accessible to consumers in 1989, when World.std.com became the first commercial provider of dial-up access to the internet. Dial-up internet is something we can no longer fathom today, as a user needs to call a specific phone number using the telephone line to connect to the internet!

Using Rotary Phones

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When you think of anything retro, you’d most likely picture a rotary dial phone. The first rotary phone in the United States was installed in La Porte, Indiana, in 1892. While it was one of the main options people had during the time to make a phone call, by the 1990s, rotary dial phones had slowly but surely become obsolete, and companies stopped manufacturing them. Through this, it’s clear that Gen Z or zoomers wouldn’t have been able to try using rotary phones in their lifetimes unless they found one—probably in a museum—that was still working!

Using Payphones

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Another means of communication baby boomers had was payphones. Today, we use our phones, tablets, laptops, and more to make calls, start video calls, or even send chat messages. However, in the olden days, you’d have no other choice but to find a public payphone near you. These would cost people around 25 cents for a call of 3 minutes or so.

Skimming Through Yellow Pages and Memorizing Phone Numbers

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As the world becomes more and more digitized, Yellow Pages have slowly become more and more obsolete. In fact, it officially stopped production in 2019. Yellow Pages were once essential to every household, as they served as everyone’s telephone directory; if you didn’t have it, you’d be forced to memorize bucketloads of telephone numbers! Office Phone Shop says, “With the rise of social media and Google, demand for the directory has declined over the years; in addition, environmental concerns prompted the launch of the ‘Say No to Phonebooks’ campaign in 2009, which called for an ‘opt-in’ scheme whereby only those who want these directories left by their door would receive them.”

Using Only Film Cameras

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Our phones have become increasingly advanced in terms of technology. In fact, specific brands and phone models are even better than some professional cameras or SLRs nowadays. However, during baby boomers’ time, they could only capture memories by using film cameras. You’d see some zoomers and millennials using film cameras today, but they’re mainly for the novelty and the aesthetic—not because they didn’t have a choice.

Using Record Players

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Vinyl records are still popular nowadays, but they’re more of a novelty or a design piece than a necessity. We listen to music through various platforms nowadays, but before, music could only be listened to through a couple of devices, like record players. ZIPDJ explains, “Radio commercials could be recorded onto vinyl, and their widespread production allowed casual music listeners to enjoy their favorite artists at home.”

Listening to Music Through a Walkman

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After the vinyl record players, a more portable or on-the-go way for people to listen to music was through a Sony Walkman, first released in 1972. The original Walkman started off as a portable cassette player but later on developed into something that would serve most of Sony’s devices. The Sony Walkman was so popular that it’s believed that more than 400 million of them have been sold. For baby boomers, the Sony Walkman is the ancestor of the Apple iPod and even Spotify!

The Existence of Cassette Tapes

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Cassette tapes, along with the original Sony Walkman, are another baby boomer favorite. First developed by Philips in 1962, cassette tapes allowed people to record tracks of their favorite audio independently. For many baby boomers, cassette tapes were the ultimate act of love or friendship because you could create specific cassette tapes or playlists for whomever you wanted to give them to.

TV Channels and Their Sign-offs

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In today’s world, TV channels run 24/7; they never stop! However, things were very different during baby boomers’ time—and we’re not only talking about the lack of channel options. All TV channels would shut off at an appointed time, usually midnight or an hour or so later. When this happens, they typically have a sign-off segment to bid their viewers farewell or mark their broadcast’s end.

Using Manual Typewriters

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Manual typewriters are a novelty nowadays; they aren’t even common anymore, nor would it be easy for someone to find one that’s working. However, in a time when the internet was only starting, and commercial computers and printers were just being developed, manual typewriters were the way to go. In fact, they were a common fixture in most offices until around the ‘80s.

Saving Files Using Floppy Disks

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Today, we use cloud storage to store our data—where all our stuff is stored online or digitally. Before that, the more popular options were hard drives or USBs. Then, prior to that, some burn files onto CDs. However, during baby boomers’ time, the only option was to use floppy disks—a storage device that could only store a small fraction of what we can now: anywhere from 100 KB to 1.44 MB!

Bill Payment via Mail

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In the past, baby boomers had limited options for convenience, so they had to write checks and use postal services to pay their bills. Overall, this is a time-consuming activity that sometimes results in lost or delayed payments, which is why online banking and the other bill payment methods we have today are much appreciated by this generation. Online banking, online bill payments, and more are all improvements millennials and, most especially, Gen Z have grown up with, and that shows how far we’ve come in terms of making transactions convenient, efficient, and accessible.

Calling the Cinemas to Find out a Movie’s Screening Schedule

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Today, everything is much more convenient; we can even buy movie tickets online! But before the age of the internet, people had limited options for finding out which movie was screening or not. To do this, people would usually have to call the cinemas directly to check the schedule. If that doesn’t work, some newspapers also publish the movie titles, the cinemas they’re showing at, and what time they’re being screened.

Having No Other Source but Encyclopedias for Homework and Research

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The internet has changed the way we learn and consume information. In addition, today, children are brought up with AI, which gives students basically anything and everything they ask for. However, none of this was available during baby boomers’ time; their only option was to go to the library, find an encyclopedia, and read hundreds of pages of information.

The Existence of Encyclopedia Salesmen

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Encyclopedias, such as Britannica, employed door-to-door salesmen to increase their sales, and for the most part, they were effective. However, they were soon stopped because of the bad reputation that salesmen attained. They were criticized for their deceptive, high-pressure, intimidating techniques. A user on Reddit shared, “Salesmen sometimes lied to gain entry to the home, for example, by claiming that they were not selling anything but were instead gathering opinion data or deceptively informing the prospects that they’d won a contest or been selected to receive a free encyclopedia set for test-marketing purposes.”

Going to Blockbuster and Other Video Rental Stores

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In the 1970s, people enjoyed visiting Blockbuster and other video rental stores. There’s no contesting how fun it was to browse through the aisles of VHS tapes, pick up movie cases, and read their descriptions. However, aside from being fun, it was their only option if they wanted to watch something they had yet to see in cinemas. Today, Gen Z and millennials have a world of possibilities and choices, from Netflix to Amazon Prime and more!

Using Library Card Catalogs When Borrowing Books

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Like most things today, libraries have also become digitized; libraries now use online databases for their catalogs, which helps them quickly access patron and collection information. These online databases allow libraries and their staff to check the status of any book, such as whether it’s available on the shelf, checked out to a patron, being mended, or in any other location. In the ‘90s and prior, the only option was to do things manually—to use a library card!

Read More: 18 Things People Regret the Most When They’re Old and Dying

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As people near the end of their lives, they commonly reflect on what they’ve done or didn’t do and what they could have done better. Regrets often plague us in the last moments of our lives, but they’re completely avoidable. If you want to ensure you live a full life without any regrets, learn from the top 18 regrets of the old and dying that we have on this list!

18 Things People Regret the Most When They’re Old and Dying

20 Things You Should Say Goodbye to the Moment You Reach Age 50

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Reaching age 50 marks a significant milestone in life. As you embark on this new chapter, it’s important to say goodbye to certain things or habits that no longer benefit you in this current chapter. At this point, you must learn to let go of unrealistic expectations and detrimental vices. Read on and find the top 20 things you need to avoid when you’re in your 50s so you can live a full, meaningful, and happy life!

20 Things You Should Say Goodbye to the Moment You Reach Age 50

20 Common Christian Practices That Go Against the Bible’s Teachings

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The Bible’s teachings are classic and timeless, yet many Christian practices have veered away from its core principles over time. Today, we’re exploring 20 prevalent Christian practices that stand in contrast to the Scripture and the Bible. Understanding them will give us a deeper and more thorough understanding of how certain traditions may diverge from Christianity’s foundational beliefs. Read on and find some things you might need to reflect on!

20 Common Christian Practices That Go Against the Bible’s Teachings

17 Reasons Companies Aren’t Hiring Anyone Who’s 50 and Over

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Many laws and policies highlight how wrong it is for companies or businesses to discriminate against others solely because of age. Even so, they try to find loopholes in the hiring process so that they can forgo hiring people over 50 and instead prioritize those from the younger generations. However, aside from being unfair, companies overlook valuable resources that could contribute one-of-a-kind experiences and skills that could set them up for success!

17 Reasons Companies Aren’t Hiring Anyone Who’s 50 and Over

17 Things Christians Do That Absolutely Bother and Annoy All the Non-Christians

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Sadly, some Christians might not realize that their behavior is offending non-Christians. Their hypocritical and judgmental behaviors can be off-putting, pushing others to get annoyed and irritated with them. So, if you’re a Christian who wants to improve how others perceive your institution as a whole, read through to the end of this list to identify some key behaviors or habits you need to avoid!

17 Things Christians Do That Absolutely Bother and Annoy All the Non-Christians

Author: Karen Danao


Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.