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A Peek into the 90's Technology Classroom



A Peek into the 90's Technology Classroom


Remember way back when? The 90’s. A decade of new and amazing technology! We were all still using floppies and CD-Roms, and if you were really high tech---maybe you had a mp3 or minidisc player. The internet was barely a thing, and there was absolutely no social media. In fact, the most social we got with our media was AOL Instant Messenger which started in 1997 (ending in 2017!). Hotmail was founded in 1996. Search engines like Webcrawler, Lycos, Excite, Ask Jeeves, and Yahoo all rocked before Google even existed in 1998. The first text message was sent in 1992!


So, with all this emerging tech, what was the classroom like? Believe it or not, many of your favorite early tech school things were developed in the 80’s but really stuck in the tech classroom all through the 90’s. Let's take a stroll down memory lane with these 90's education tech crazes we all secretly wish would make a comeback! ...or maybe not really.  

The Oregon Trail. This is a tech legacy, but believe it or not, was actually first released in 1971! In the 80’s it existed on Atari, and through the 90’s it could be found on Macs and Windows machines. It has renditions of it’s games even up until as recently as 2018 where Target sold a handheld version of the game. Where has it been in the classroom? A great way to learn about Westward Expansion and technology. Careful not to contract dysentery!


Mavis Beacon was originally released in 1987, but was a staple in homes, schools, and libraries for a decade after. You’ll be sad to find out that Mavis Beacon is not a real person. Sure, the picture of Mavis is a real person, but her name is not Mrs. Beacon. Just a random name for a virtual typing teacher. If you really want to take a deep dive into her history, enjoy this video: https://youtu.be/T-6d6X4E-3w

In 1995, Encarta was Microsoft’s early digital encyclopedia. Originally it was sold as a CD or DVD, and you may remember using it on whatever large desktop you had at school. Eventually, in the 2000s, it was published on the internet, and you could have a subscription. But who needs it now with Wikipedia?

Don’t remember Encarta? Just check out this intro video to jog your memory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fRX4R6MY4A

If you weren’t in to learning typing by way of the mythical Mavis Beacon, the you were probably a fan of 1996’s Mario Teaches Typing! This is basically Mario Run except with typing.

This is probably one that teachers would rather not remember in 1997 - one of the original school nuisances - up there with the legendary fidget spinner - is the Tamagotchi! Who could forget the obsession that we all had taking care of these tiny tech creatures, feeding them, distracting us from homework, and cleaning up their poop, until they died.


In 1998 those brightly colored iMacs hit the scene and outfitted every school computer lab that could afford it.



There you have it, a real solid trip down memory lane. There is so much to miss, and so much to be happy is over. What was your favorite (or least favorite) 90’s tech teaching stuff?



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Brittany Washburn
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