This Is What Our Lives Were Like In 1994

By Holly Brockwell on at

The brilliant BBC 6 Music is having a '1994 day' today, travelling back in time to remember what life was like 22 years ago, before we had iPhones and VR, but we did have John Major and the Chunnel.

We've decided to join them with a quick look back at what life and tech were like here in the UK in those neon-tinged days of yore.

We played Donkey Kong on our Game Boys

Although the Game Boy was released in the UK all the way back in 1990, it stayed the handheld console of choice until we got the Game Boy Pocket in 1996. By '94, we'd all got bored with Tetris and completed Super Mario World 1 and 2, and were onto the timeless Donkey Kong.

But of course, we were playing it on our TVs rather than that mini monochrome screen - because we'd somehow talked our mums into coughing up £49.99 for a Super Game Boy.

It's no wonder, with adverts like these.

Plus of course we didn't get the PlayStation on these shores 'til 1995.

We listened to Whigfield on our Sony Discmans

Mostly to drown out our insufferable parental units, who were listening to Love Is All Around for the billionth time. It spent a torturous fifteen weeks - that's almost four months! - at number one.

Meanwhile, we were getting that dance routine down. But not while using the Discman because that'd make the CD skip, obvs.

At this point, Sony was already trying to make minidiscs happen, but no one was biting. No one ever really bit.

We watched Gladiators on terrestrial TV

We weren't watching Crystal Maze in 1994, as a protest against replacement of the incomparable Richard O'Brien with the rubbish Ed Tudor-Pole in 1993. So instead, it was all about Gladiators.

1994 was the year that Liverpudlian powerhouse Eunice Huthart absolutely blitzed it, to the point that she's the only contender ever who was invited back to become a Gladiator herself. She was known as Blaze.

Here she is smashing the eliminator against contender Lorraine.

We taped the finale on mum's VCR, which she could use while watching a different channel. Well worth £179.99.

We saw The Lion King in the actual cinema

Which was handy because it was dark and cousin Billy couldn't take the piss out of us for crying.

Of course, we had to wait until 1995 to get it on VHS, which we watched on our "large screen TV."

Image: Retromash

We built this city

Maxis's unbelievably good SimCity 2000 came out for Mac(intosh) in 1994, followed by Windows, Amiga, DOS and OS/2 versions. It's one of the few games that's still as much fun to play over two decades later, which goes to show that angry dude who always said YOU WILL REGRET THIS was wrong.

We first heard about new games on TV

Nineties videogame shows were mad. In fact, it was the nineties when the term 'video game' came into its own, with some forward-thinking board games including an actual VHS. Remember Nightmare?

According to this amazing Bad Influence report from 94, "home virtual reality is going to be the next big thing."

And who could forget GamesMaster? In the days before online games media, this is where we got our news. After all, we could only buy magazines when we had pocket money spare, and with Freddo having launched in '94 for ten pence each, that wasn't often.

We'd never been on Nemesis

Alton Towers' vom-making coaster opened in March '94, but it was a looong time before we could persuade our lame 'rents to let us go. Assuming we were even tall enough - you had to be at least four foot seven.

The ride cost £10m in 1994 pounds, which is about £18 million in today's money. It flips you upside down four times: two corkscrews, one loop-the-loop and a zero-gravity roll. It was, and still is, awesome.

We didn't shop online

Because we couldn't. Most of us didn't have internet at home yet, for starters - Pipex launched in 1992 but it took a lot longer than that for most households to get on board. Freeserve didn't turn up until '98.

Plus, e-commerce wasn't really a thing yet. Amazon was founded in 1994 but was still called 'Cadabra,' and didn't launch properly until the following year, when it looked like this:

And it was US-only. It didn't come to the UK 'til 1998, and the logo with the arrow arrived in 2000.

We didn't know anyone with a mobile phone

Not even a Nokia 3310 - that didn't make an appearance for another six years. If you wanted a Nokia in 1994, your best option was the 232, otherwise known as Alicia Silverstone's phone in Clueless, released in 1995.

It had an extensible antenna for sassily slamming shut when you ended a call, and could store a whopping 98 phone numbers. A bargain at £49.99, or less if you got it on Vodafone through Cellphones Direct or Cellnet through The Link. Remember Cellnet? Aww.

What'd we miss?

Share your favourite bits of '94 in the comment section. Because that's a thing you can do here in 2017.

Main image courtesy of Retromash, whose trove of old Argos catalogues is amazing and you should check it out.