The ‘90s were a halcyon period when it came to computer technology. Although the World Wide Web was still in its infancy, the concept of “cyberspace” was just starting to make itself known to the broader, non-tech-y culture. (Hackers, anyone?) I was in high school and at the time, computers still seemed quasi-magical. They were going to transform everything and turn the world into a techno-utopia after a few keystrokes and mouse clicks.
Of course, that didn’t turn out to be the case. Nowadays, we know all too well that technology can be a double-edged sword. We find it easier than ever to be connected and experience different points of view, and yet we find ourselves isolated and locked inside echo chambers. We might have access to more information and entertainment than any other period in human history, but now we also face grave privacy and security issues that have global ramifications.
But for those of us who were fairly nerdy and grew up in the ‘90s, there’s still a bit of nostalgia for the utopia that computers might’ve ushered in. And a perfect example of that is this awesome Twitter thread packed with photos of Cyberplay (a kids-focused internet café in Orlando, Florida) and Tempus Expeditions (a motion theatre and retail store), two amazing relics of the ‘90s view of technology.
The aesthetics of these places are mind-blowing and so incredibly dated, they seem almost timeless. You’ve got every “cyber” and “futuristic” architectural and interior design trope you could hope for: scaffolding, circuitboard-ish wallpaper, giant gears, computer consoles and interactive kiosks that look like they came straight from the Babylon 5 set, and user interfaces that look inspired by Kai’s Power Tools… and that’s just the tip of the techno-iceberg.
It’s gaudy, over-the-top, and an assault on the senses, and I love all of it. As I tweeted when I first saw the thread, I’m pretty sure this is what I imagined heaven looking like when I was in 9th grade.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.