The Dawn of the CD-ROM

Before AIM, MySpace, Facebook, and even neopets I first experienced using a computer via the wondrous world of CD-ROMs. I know I am not the only one who has experienced the fine tuned, oiled workings of these original interactive educational electronic games. I distinctly remember going over to a friend’s and being enamored by her collection of games: a collection completely different than mine. Sometimes our entire play dates consisted of just playing these games which ranged anywhere from disney princesses to mystery solving Nancy Drew. Essentially the games were all the same: complete task’s A through Z. It’s funny, my first AH HA moment that ever occurred to me while using the computer was when playing a computer game. Not to sound daft, but for the longest time I never understood the concept of levels in a game. I grew up with one older sister and neither of us were into video games or had any exposure to it. One of our favorite games to play together was the Madeline game. This AH HA moment happened when we were finally able to make it to the next so called level of the game. It was that same night that we actually beat the game! I remember feeling as elated as a 6 year old could feel. I felt accomplished, like I had been a part of the means to an end. Six year old me was able to get Madeline around the world and back again all in one evening. I was learning that the computer could help me to do amazing things.

I did some snooping to see if their was any information about this game and other 90’s interactive games and this is what I found:

I was honestly really surprised to see that someone was still playing the game in 2011. It reminded me of the readings from this week: sometimes things we expect to become obsolete end up lasting. On the flip side, I am currently working on a computer that is not even compatible with CD-ROMs.  

Around this same time in my life I first heard of the term email. It was first explained to me by an old man, a story teller to be exact. I was on vacation at the beach with family and there was this orator there entertaining the children of vacationers. I do not recall a single thing from the story, but I do remember how he ended it. He ended it by telling us of this great new invention: this thing he called email. He explained that even though his grandchildren lived across the country from him he could send them a message without having to call them up on the phone and they would receive it instantly. There was no voice mail, no letters to be opened, just a message delivered within seconds. A message waiting patiently 1,000’s of miles away. How could you send a message, something that wasn’t even tangible in mere seconds? Well, you could, and it was because of the internet. Before this I used to think my parents Nokia bricks were high tech, but the advent of email definitely stole my awe. What fascinated me so much about email was the whole uncertainty of it. I didn’t quite grasp what the purpose of it was, and I never foresaw myself in 14 years relying on it as a lifeline for school, work, and sale alerts. How does one ever know when j.crew is having their 50% off sale special if it wasn’t for email blasts? Speaking of vintage cell phones, I found this link which displays a slew of media that was once new. It is rather entertaining:

Some of these images harken back to before our times, but most do not. Its interesting how kooky some of the items appear to be, when they were once thought to be the hottest, sleekest items on the market. 

Looking back at my early encounters I am nostalgic: nostalgic for a time when the internet moved at a much slower, more mystifying pace. In todays whir of phones that function as mini computers, ever expanding social media platforms it is easy to forget that email and CD-rom games were once new forms of media. Interactive and entertaining computer soft wear is far inferior to the convenient and sophisticated apps we tote around on our smartphones which also serves as a home to our email, which serves to constantly keep us in contact with the rest of the world both on and offline.  

Do you ever long for the time when computer and technology operated at a much simpler pace? It seems that computer companies do try to simplify things to make for more user friendly models, but with the constant changes to computers do you agree that these companies intentions are being correctly instilled in the products they are selling? Out of curiosity, what was your favorite CD-ROM to play as a kid?


Emma Currens


One comment

  1. I remember so many old games from childhood (ex: Reader Rabbit, Freddie Fish…). It’s interesting to think that many of us will look back on those with fondness even though they are not the best graphics (as you have stated, many were good for their time), but when a new game comes out today with amazing graphics, we can still find criticisms for the digital work.

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