Home Features Friday Debate – What was the best PC software from your childhood?

Friday Debate – What was the best PC software from your childhood?

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25

Encarta-FFD

I recently uncovered a treasure trove box of CDs up in my cupboard, that I’d completely forgotten about. Inside of it were numerous albums, absolute bangers from an era of baggy pants, too much damn hair gel and a youth misspent on watching anime. I’m talking Limp Bizkit (Which confirms the existence of Firm Biscuits), The Dead Kennedy’s, Linkin Park’s brilliant Meteora and so much more.

Now yes, I could have just created a playlist on Spotify, but I was feeling nostalgic. Besides, Spotify has been kind of weird lately, dropping beats and latency as if it were infested with gremlins. So I did what any rational person would do: I burned the whole lot of my albums onto my PC, created a folder for them and synced them to WinAmp.

Yes, WinAmp. The software that made its bones by whipping a Llama’s ass. Times change, platforms evolve but you just cannot beat good design. WinAmp is still a masterpiece of design, a simple studio with so much to offer through its gargantuan library of plug-ins that have been preserved online. It got me thinking: What other ancient pieces of software do you still have fond memories for? Here’s a quick list of software that pretty much defined my childhoods:

  • Nero – For burning completely legitimate content onto a CD-ROM (Or DVDs if you grew up rich)
  • RealPlayer – For allowing us to watch more legally obtained content in glorious 144p mode
  • EJay – Because I was totally going to be a damn good DJ when I left high school just you wait and see
  • Daemon – I was hellbent on not listening to a Boeing 747 land whenever I started a game and preferred having a virtual option for loading my games
  • Encarta 97 – A godsend in an age before Wikipedia was invented
  • Art Explosion 200,000 – It’s art! But easier!
  • Sonique – Absolutely crap when compared to WinAmp but it did look fantastic
  • MIRC – I have no idea what that is, but Kervyn says it was the business for chatting back in the day

What’s the best software from your particular timeline? Any gems you’d care to share? Sound off below and let’s remember how much we hated that damn clown in Encarta’s Mind Maze game.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: July 31, 2020

25 Comments

  1. Although I never really used it, WinRAR needs to be on this list πŸ™‚

    Reply

  2. D4m@E

    July 31, 2020 at 11:18

    ARJ and PKZip.
    Man, getting to disk 19 of 20 and getting the dreaded CRC error.

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      July 31, 2020 at 11:18

      I remember those feels.

      Reply

    • Kervyn Cloete

      July 31, 2020 at 12:14

      ugh. You just gave me retro anxiety,

      Reply

  3. The Sten

    July 31, 2020 at 11:18

    Widows Media Player Classic – Remember having to download updated codecs every now and again so that you could watch all your videos. Then VLC player came and did it automatically.

    Atomix Mp3 – 1. select 2 cool songs, 2. press the “mix” button, 3 instant DJ, 4. PROFIT.

    Limewire – viruses…..virusses everywhere

    Also shoutout to that pack of software trials and game demos you used to get with those gamer magazines

    Reply

  4. Gavin Mannion

    July 31, 2020 at 11:18

    The very first game I had on my very first PC was Leisure Suit Larry… my parents didn’t realise what it was until I got into it

    Reply

    • D4m@E

      July 31, 2020 at 12:29

      Hahaha.
      Mine was Alley Cat, Prince of Persia and Battle Chess.

      Reply

  5. Pariah

    July 31, 2020 at 14:23

    Winamp. Since my 486 I had been using Winamp. Up until Spotify became a thing. Yep, more than 2 decades.

    Reply

  6. MechMachine

    July 31, 2020 at 14:23

    I don’t know if this was the OG one I played, But this brings back fond memories, my dad getting irked at me smashing the space bar….

    Reply

    • MechMachine

      July 31, 2020 at 14:23

      There is something to be said when one can look back at the pure joy to be found in something so simple and the power of the mind to imagine.

      Reply

  7. Morne Nell

    July 31, 2020 at 11:29

    Alley Cat, classic monochrome dos game

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      July 31, 2020 at 11:46

      that game was AWESOME

      Reply

      • Morne Nell

        July 31, 2020 at 12:01

        Then you should remember this, classic for its time. Speed, graphics, sound

        Reply

    • D4m@E

      July 31, 2020 at 12:14

      That bloody game gave me anxiety attacks.

      Reply

  8. Alien Emperor Trevor

    July 31, 2020 at 11:29

    My friend & I would use Laplink (I think it was) for our 1v1 LAN sessions back in the day. Good times.

    And Pirch was way better than Mirc.

    Reply

    • JWT-80

      July 31, 2020 at 13:38

      Oh yes LapLink 5!

      Reply

  9. Gavin Mannion

    July 31, 2020 at 11:46

  10. Conan the Barbarian

    July 31, 2020 at 16:39

    Norton Commander and later Windows Commander.

    ARJ and RAR

    And of course CDEmu

    Reply

  11. GooseZA

    July 31, 2020 at 12:56

    Alley cat, Digger, California games, Battle Chess, Leisure Suit Larry, Black Cauldron, Police Quest, , Sopwith I & II when I was little. Then later all the stuff you mentioned in the article for utility and too many games to mention.

    Reply

  12. Caveshen Rajman

    July 31, 2020 at 16:05

    I’ll never forget the time I installed Daemon and it made my PC blue-screen whenever loading into Windows, INCLUDING Safe Mode. So I had to reformat and lose all my completely legitimately stored music lol.

    Reply

  13. setzor

    July 31, 2020 at 16:24

    Doing a school project in Afrikaans and having to translate Encarta content ?‍♀️

    Reply

  14. justlikemo

    July 31, 2020 at 16:59

    Commander Keen!

    Reply

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