I miss the days without Smartphones

a memo to the era of Flash, miniclip games and Internet Cafes’

Afroz Chakure
5 min readAug 5, 2023

In 2007, Steve Jobs changed the world with the Introduction of the first iPhone. “Change ” is a big word, and in this context it really changed the world!

Never before had we been hooked to a device “too small to fit in our hands” and able to do almost all the things that a full-blown Desktop setup could achieve.

Internet before Smartphones

Internet was different before smartphones were introduced. You went to Google.com to try and search your favorite TV shows, cartoon characters, check latest cricket scores, play online games, chat with your friends, install your favorite software, etc. from the world wide web.

Youtube was nascent, Internet was usually slow, and sites took a long time to load.

It was a different time when you had to go to internet cafes’ to search for study material for school assignments or play the latest GTA & Counter Strike.

Personal computing was a lot less distracting than what it is today.

To play games you had to make sure that the game was already installed on your PC or get it installed by buying a “CD” for game installation.

It was really fun to go from store to store and go through stacks of Computer game Disks checking if they would run on your computer or not. Each “CD” game would have this amazing piece of art both on the front and back of the disk.

Of-course, the in-game scenes and graphics would differ from the ones stated on the cover of these games, but who was reading the warnings at the bottom of their covers anyways! :)

Trips to Internet Cafe

Before 2012, I remember whenever I had assignments which required me to do research I would always prepare myself to travel 2–3 km that day to the nearest Internet cafe. We would usually take a auto-rickshaw from my place for Rs 10 per person to the Cafe.

Although I had a computer at home since 2008, internet was not common among Indian households till that time. So whatever information I needed for my school assignments, it had to come by visiting the internet cafe.

We would visit this Internet cafe on weekends & weekdays, sometimes early morning (even before the shop opened) and even late at night (when it was just about to close). The owner of the cafe became a good friend of ours and always had a smile on his face whenever we interacted with him.

Last time I visited his cafe was around 2016, to our surprise he had closed down his Internet cafe a little, from over 30 computers divided across two floors, he now just had 2 computers on ground floor together with a xerox machine & office supplies that he sold over-the-counter. He had given the upper floor for tailoring purposes.

When asked about why he drilled down his Cafe, he said

“Iska dhanda nahi chal raha hai, sab ke pass Smartphone aa gaya hai. Koi nahi aata hai.”

Translated: “Internet Cafe’s business is not doing well as everyone has smartphones nowadays, No one comes.”

Pre-Playstore Gaming

Before Google released their Playstore where you could download millions of games for free, you had to rely on sites like Miniclip.com and freeOnlineGames.com (FOG) if you had an internet connection.

Sometimes people would have downloaded versions of games from these sites and the same would be transferred among their friends and peers.

For playing games on a Computer without internet, you had to purchase CD disks from stores, check whether your machine fits the system requirements mentioned to run the game and lastly sort through a bunch of disks to select the game you want to buy. It truly was an occasion whenever I went outside just to buy a Computer game disk for myself.

Nothing was free as people Expected Nothing to be free. Everything came at a cost or atleast those costs were visible upfront before purchase.

There were no subscriptions, trackers or unwanted pop-ups on using software those days. Once bought you could keep the software for lifetime or could circulate it amongst your friends any number of times. Burning the disk for distributing it was a common trend. There were no stupid Ads during Gameplay or when using the software.

The Era changed fast and why I miss it

I’m sure there would be many who would say that technology is bound to change fast and you should be prepared for it.

The thing we often forget is that, the most important part of this change is “Us”: humans and our personal interaction with these things.

We interact with technology for not only achieving great results at work or home, But during these interaction we give away our time, energy, health and sometimes missed experiences that could have spent elsewhere.

I miss the days when people were more human. Days when people were not engrossed to their smartphones and actually listened & talked to someone instead of texting.

Days when you could raise your disagreements with someone not by tweeting or texting about it, but actually talking to the person or even by raising campaigns.

It’s both laughable and sad to see youngsters giving up on life so easily because some Billion dollar company decided they wanted their app to be as addicting as possible.

It truly makes me wonder why “no-one is banning Apps that waste our time and energy”. Majority of our time is being spent on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Even if we take an average of 6 hours a day of time spent across these apps — It is a lot of wasted time that doesn’t even add any value to you.

An analogy from Arcade games

While I belong to a generation that grew up playing a lot of Indie games, Flash games and games from Miniclip.com, I really felt bad when they became obsolete with Adobe stopping support for Adobe Flash Player after December 31, 2020 and Miniclip shutting down it’s browser game portal in July 2022.

I think it is all part of changing times and growing up, new generation would like things run a certain way and evolving technology call for new changes in organizations and how they do business.

It is similar to how in late 1990s & early 2000s teenagers would have felt when arcade games started becoming obsolete because of PCs and Laptops. With high piracy of software, movies, music and games it made no sense to keep going to an arcade to play with friends.

Photo by Okan You on Unsplash


With the rapid pace of technology, I know there will be a lot many disruptions during my lifetime.

It’s important to cherish what you have now because a lot of the games, apps, software, technology and companies that you usually see will not survive the next decade.

With advancements in AI and Virtual Reality, a lot more of our human interactions will be taken away from us, I just hope we continue to be mindful of “Why” we build these technologies and the necessity for human interaction in our daily lives.