15 Things Only Gen Xers Will Recognize on Sight


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Gen X-ers get a bad rep but it’s not our fault. Sandwiched between the boomers and millennials, born during economic recessions vis-á-vis the advent of the internet, we had it good. Well, good enough that we didn’t face endless phone and email notifications, cancel culture, and we could go wild without worrying about a video going viral on social media. We’re not slackers, or Karens, or boomer lights, we just had it good growing up thanks to some of the things that defined our generation. 

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iMac G3

Generation X loved colors, and our tech reflected that too. It’s hard to say what we loved more about the iMac G3: The futuristic design with an egg-shaped CRT display and visible hardware, or its range of translucent, candy colors. Either way, this was more than just an aesthetic triumph; it became known as “the computer that saved Apple.”  

Image Credit: The ‘Five Flavors’ of the iMac G3 by Stephen Hackett (CC BY-SA).

Sony Discman

Launched in 1984, the portable music player exploded with popularity during the ’90s. The cool kids walked around listening to their tunes on CDs. While it wasn’t always the most portable device, not to mention it had skipping issues (unless you owned a model with an Anti-Skip button) it was the gift to ask for at Christmas.

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The Slip Dress

Blame Kate Moss for her enduring influence that had all of us donning these skimpy slips of a dress, either with a T-shirt underneath or layered one on top of the other. This minimalist dress code was preferably paired with chunky Doc Marten boots, or if you felt extra girly, spaghetti strap sandals.

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Nirvana Nevermind

No album better captured the experience of a disillusioned teen in the ‘90s than “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” With the iconic cover featuring a baby swimming towards a dollar bill on a fishhook, the album played a pivotal role in bringing grunge music and alternative rock into the mainstream. It offered a raw, authentic sound with distorted guitars and emotionally charged lyrics that still resonate today.

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Neon Clothing

Reflecting the bold styles worn by the Fly Girls (IYKYK), Gen X had a soft spot for loud, brash hues like fuchsia, neon yellow and glowing green. Treated almost like neutrals, there was no color block pairing too loud. Just make sure you don’t dim the outfit’s glow with a black bottom.

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Nokia 1011

The quintessential ‘90s status symbol had to be the Nokia 1011. Introduced in 1992, it was the first mass-produced GSM phone and put Nokia on the world map. Although it did little more than make calls and send texts, it was all the rage. Just make sure the antenna was fully extended, or you wouldn’t be able to hear the other party.

Image Credit: Nokia 1011 Cellphone by Unknown (CC BY).

Car Cassette Adaptor

Invented by Larry Schotz, this cheap, novel device was a lifeline for anyone with a car that only had a tape deck in the age of iPods and Discmans. Easy to use, all you had to do was insert the cassette, plug in the 3.5mm headphone jack, and you could have Nirvana blasting.

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Complain all you want about Gen X’s parenting skills, but it’s possible we picked up our helicopter parenting techniques from the Tamagotchi. This virtual pet came in the form of a palm-sized egg, and it wasn’t uncommon for kids to wake up in the middle of the night to tend to their beeping, needy pet, ensuring it was fed and cared for. Savvy kids found ways to extend their pet’s life with just a graphite pencil to trigger the debugging signal.

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Pocketalk by Motorola

For anyone on the move, the Pocketalk digital answering machine did a lot of heavy lifting. Launched in 1998, it resembled a pager, but allowed you to hear (not just read) a phone message wherever you had a signal. It targeted people with answering machines or pager owners who wanted a more personalized delivery of messages.

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MTV News

For us ‘90s kids, MTV wasn’t just about music videos; it was where many of us got our news. The channel launched in 1987 with the show “This Week in Rock,” which was hosted by Rolling Stone writer Kurt Loder. MTV News was one of the first media outlets to report on Kurt Cobain’s death. Highly influential and tightly interwoven with pop culture, shows like “Choose or Lose” even sat down with Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential elections.

Image Credit: Lovers of 120 Minutes on MTV/YouTube.

Swatch Watches

If you grew up in the ‘90s, there’s a good chance one of your first watches was a Swatch Irony, Maxi, Skin, Chrono, or Solar. First introduced in the 1990s, these brightly colored watches were more of a fashion statement than a timekeeping instrument. With almost weekly new releases and a long list of collaborators including Keith Haring, Alfred Hofkunst, Vivienne Westwood and even Tony Hawk, it was nearly impossible to stop from building a collection.

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Nintendo 64 Cartridges

Yes, sometimes you would have to blow on it to clean/fix it. However, this small inconvenience was worth it for the faster load times and durability aligning perfectly with a generation of gamers who valued instant access and reliability.

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Three Other ‘90s Icons

Blockbuster Card: Before Netflix, there was Blockbuster, with its chain of stores spread across the country. For many, a Blockbuster membership was the only way to watch movies without having to buy VHS tapes. There was, however, a $1 per day late fee.

United Colors of Benetton Ads: No magazine in the ‘90s was complete without a Benetton ad. Far ahead of its time, these controversial, colorful ads were not afraid to tackle social issues like racism, environmental disasters and terrorism.

Palm Pilot: Launched in 1996, the Palm Pilot introduced us to the world of personal digital assistants. Complete with a touchscreen interface and stylus, it allowed users to do just about everything we now do on our smartphones.

This story was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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