How did things work before smartphones?

By: Annette
Estimated Completion Time
5 min
How did you shine some light in the darkness?
You used a flashlight
You lit a candle
You could do either, or both!
Remember flashlights? And candles? These were all ways of creating light in the darkness. We could all benefit from more candlelight. . .

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How did you duplicate a document?
You used a scanner to scan it
Remember scanner? They still exist, but these days, it's so easy to just take a picture of a document on your phone and send it right away!
You used a Kodak camera to take a picture of it
Duplication was impossible

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How did folks check the local traffic?
They called the traffic service
They asked a psychic
They listened to local TV and Radio
People actually listened to the radio for traffic announcements. A real person would report on the traffic, in real time.
There was no such thing as traffic

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How did people know what time it was?
They carried an alarm clock with them
They wore a watch
They looked at the sun
B and C
Both consulting a watch and looking at the sun did the trick.

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How did folks know North from South, and East from West?
They looked at the stars
They used a compass
Either of these
People actually used to be guided by starlight! But in more modern times, they used a compass. This device can now be found on your​ phone.

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How did you remember someone's address and phone number?
You wrote them on your hand
You memorized them
You used an address book
All of the above
Yes, people did all of these things. Remember address books? They were so cool!

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How did people communicate quickly while camping, hiking, and riding bikes?
They simply couldn't
They used a walkie talkie system
Remember walkie talkies?! They made it so easy to talk to someone from a short distance away. And they were just seriously cool.
They used cups, attached by a string

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What would you do if you had car trouble?
You walked to a payphone
You had to physically walk to a payphone, or you asked someone nearby to help out.
You shot a flare into the sky
You left the car for dead
You sent a telegram

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What would you do when boredom hit?
You called a doctor!
You would mentally shut down
You would find something to do, or just be bored
Yes, boredom happens. But people used to deal with it. Or they'd play a board game.
You exploded!

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How did people look up a song title or movie actor?
They checked a reference book
They asked someone else
They checked the internet on their computer
All of the above
Yes, people had to wait to get home to look things up. Books were even used as references. Real books.

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How did truck drivers and police officers communicate?
Through sign language
Through radio waves
Truck drivers used to dispatch messages over the radio, as did police officers. Sometimes they could pick up other frequencies and hear other conversations​!
Using a complex system of lights and morse code

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How did you play games with friends?
No one played games
You played boardgames!
Boardgames are nearly extinct, and now you can play games with your friends instantly on your phone. But there should be boardgames again! They brought people​ together.
You payed a lot of money to do so

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What was event ticketing like before smartphones?
Buy paper tickets at a kiosk
Call the venue and purchase over the phone
Show up the day of and cross your fingers!
All of the above
Travel agents used to set up all these arrangements. That's a whole profession that is barely viable today!

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How would you check the weather?
Put your head out the door
Listen to the radio
Watch local news
All of the above
Yes, people would listen to the radio or consult the local news. This was just as iffy as the phone is now.

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How would you deposit a check?
You went to the bank
You actually physically went to the bank. You stood in line. You got a free lollipop.
You sent it by telegram
You sent it to Switzerland
What the heck is a check?

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Where did you put your photos?!
In picture frames
In a photo album
In a sock drawer
All of the above
Actual physical photos were put where people could see them, and they were stored carefully.

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How did folks used to video chat?
They used webcams
They would make a video and send it to their friend
You could actually do both
You used webcams on your computer, but before then, you could make a video for a friend and send the VHS or DVD by mail! That's pretty time-consuming.

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How did you find someone's phone number?
You called the operator
You called 4-1-1
You looked in a phone book
All of the above
There were phone books​ that had multiple names and numbers! Phone books were also used as booster seats and as kindling.

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What was a guitar tuner?
A mall device that helped you tune your guitar
The handy little device would be carried in a guitar case. These days, you can easily find this feature on your phone.
A massive machine that you physically put the guitar in
A professional who did nothing but tune guitars

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How did you use to end a meeting with​ a potential business partner?
You wrote your number down on a napkin
You handed them a business card
The business card is long gone, but remember those cool business card organizers? So classy.
You gave them a large spreadsheet with your personal details

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How did you speak to someone before text messaging?
You called them and then stood by the phone
You went and found the person
You spoke telepathically
A and B
To speak to someone immediately, you either had to find them or call them and wait for a response. People would actually wait in phone booths.

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How did you take a selfie?
Selfies weren't possible
You used a Polaroid selfie stick
You used a selfie Kodak camera
You turned the camera towards you and prayed that you were in the frame
Often, your thumb would be over the lens, or you'd cut off half your head.

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How did you share selfies with people?
You showed them the physical picture that you took
You had to show someone a physical picture. It meant that you had to meet someone in person.
You never shared them
No one ever took a picture of themselves way back when
You sent them by telegram

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How did you add and subtract numbers?
You used a calculator
You used your mind
You used a pen and paper
All of the above
The calculators on our phones are pretty handy, but in the past there was a separate little machine for that! Or your brain.

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How did you track your fitness?
No one cared about fitness
Everyone was perfectly fit!
Using paper and pen, or a nutritionist
Fitness and weight would be tracked by a specialist, or you'd write the info down yourself. No apps.
You ignored it

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What were the primary ways people would advertise?
Billboards
Magazines and Newspapers
TV and Radio
All of the above
Advertising often came in paper form. Newspapers were actually delivered to the house each day.

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How did you make voice recordings?
You used a tape dictation machine or tape recorder
Dictation machines used cassette tapes to record. Cassette tapes!
You recorded it over the phone
You used a karaoke machine
You recorded it into a conch shell

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What was a Rolodex?
A rolling contraption that held business cards and contact info
Not to be confused with a Rolex watch, the Rolodex​ held business cards and contact information. It sat on one's desk.
A brand of watch
A rolling device use for stamping things

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What was a DayRunner?
Someone who only ran in the daytime
A type of weekly planner book
A DayRunner was one's personal planner. It was a book that had calendars for each week, contact information, and notes.
That large paper calendar that sat on one's desktop

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How did people listen to music?
Walkman
Radio
Record player
All of the above
There were plenty of ways to listen to music. Even in a car or on a train!

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How did you escape people that you didn't like?
You unfriended them by mail
You ignored them and avoided encounters
Before smart phones, you could simply avoid people. These days, you can't escape.
You notified the FBI
You moved to a different state

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Which of these will be reduced or replaced in the future by cell phones?
Remote controls
Car keys
Cable television
All of the above
Phones have already replaced so much, and this trend with simply continue! Goodbye, car keys:)

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How did you shop with the press of a button?
You didn't
You simply couldn't purchase something so quickly. You had to step into a store or order from a paper catalog!
You used the mobile shopping machine
You used a pager
You hired a push-button shop assistant

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How did you talk to your grandmother?
You went to her house
You called her on the land line
You sent her a letter
All of the above
You couldn't call your grandmother on your cell, and you couldn't chat with her on Facebook.

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How did you network?
You mailed your credentials to LinkedIn
You tweeted on your pager
You sent your Facebook link via fax
You actually met with people and networked
Networking used to involve actually meeting with people and getting to know them!

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