Yesterday, as I swiped through my digital September issue of Wired, I came across a bit that immediately swung me back right into my first year of high school. Presented on the page where a Nokia 3310, a 56k modem, a Dot-matrix printer, a Tube TV, and a Speak & Spell. It was a piece about the Museum of Endangered Sounds, a digital archive of sounds we all remember so, so well.
Super geek Brendan Chilcutt (the nom de plume used by the collective who founded the museum), fearfully wonders:
when the entire world has adopted devices with sleek, silent touch interfaces, where will we turn for the sound of fingers striking QWERTY keypads? Tell me that. And tell me: Who will play my GameBoy when I’m gone?
I’ve been playing with the website multiple times during the day, and I hope it’ll stay live for a long time to come. The quality of the sounds is impeccable, and it really gets you back into that mood of being relaxed, or slightly terrified about something as cute as a pop quiz, or a boyfriend who wouldn’t call, or not having that cool phone with a personalized cover. I I had a box I could fill, keep in the closet and open up whenever things were getting gloomy and I wanted to be close to Grandma Dora, here’s what sounds I’d put inside it:
The rotary dial telephone
It reminds me off the phone my old friend Leonne gave me. It used to belong to her grandmother, but she wanted me to have it. I placed it in my room and felt incredibly proud, because I was the only one I knew who owned such a beautifully old device. What I enjoy remembering is the fact that I hardly ever got a single caller asking for me, because I didn’t have my own landline. I spent many hours eavesdropping on my Mom and her friends having boring conversations about nothing important.
The floppy disk
I remember the time in December of 1999 when Pokémon Red and Blue had just come out. Every kid in my school wanted the games, and most of them wanted a Game Boy so they could play them. I already had a Game Boy, I had been addicted to Tetris and Super Mario Land for years. But my mother refused to get me the games. Luckily, my cousin’s cousin Ben, a notorious local nerd, had managed to get me two floppy editions for free. I didn’t take the disks out very often (I was always playing the games), but I clearly remember that very first time I ever heard a floppy disk up close, when I put in Pokémon Red.
Sitting in the attic, or under my bed, playing the game until my thumbs got sore and I actually had repetitive strain injury. And to this day, if I can get my hands on the game (I’ve refused to download the iPad version), I will not say a word for hours.
This is a sour one for me. Because, while I loved my Tamagotchi in the beginning, I ended up hating its guts. In the late nineties, every single kid in my school had one. I loved taking care of something, the cute sounds it produced and the flashy colour of the case. We were inseperable. But then came 1998, and with it the motherfucking Furby.
Furby was brought on the market right before Christmas (cheeky bastards), and some of my richer friends (five of the six girls in my group, I was the other one) had a Furby. So, my Tamagotchi and I remained friends as the other girls hung out at the park with their furbies, having tea parties in pink sweaters and SHUT UP. I don’t care.