Flashback fun!

Return with us now to the thrilling days of the late 1990s, when the Interweb was young, the CD was king, and the cloud was a white, fluffy thing that floated above your head while you gabbed on your cordless telephone.

Photo by: Associated Press

Motorola StarTAC

This "personal cellular phone," as it was billed, literally helped put cell phones in everyday people's hands.

It set new standards for design, perfecting the modern flip-phone configuration, and weighed just 3.5 ounces.

Photo by: Associated Press

DVD players

When "digital videodisk products," as they were first described by New York media, arrived in the United States in early 1997, most Hollywood studios weren't on board with the format.

An early adapter who plunked down $500 or so for a player had to make do with "Space Jam" and a handful of other titles.

Photo by: Associated Press

Original PlayStation

Introduced in 1995, Sony's innovative, CD-ROM-equipped game system quickly became the driving force of its company and the gaming industry.

State-of-the-art 128KB memory cards saved your Mortal Kombat 3 action in all its 32-bit glory while DualShock controllers, which came along in 1997, literally rocked your world.

Photo by: Sony

Giga Pets

Giga's dogs, frogs and whatnot were digital characters that lived in beeper-like devices that beeped when the "animals" pooped or needed to be fed. ("Don't upset your Giga Pet," the commercial warned.)

Alas, in the United States, the Giga Pet was soon overshadowed by its corporate cousin, Furby.

Photo by: Tiger Electronics

Windows 95

Yay! Windows 95 is here! Steve Ballmer is stoked! "Friends" stars Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry are totally impressed! Kidding aside, the operating system deserved the hype. Windows 95 simplified startup and program access.

Photo by: AFP/Getty Images

Pilot 1000

Filofaxes were so 1980s! By 1997, the way to get and stay organized was to plunk down $299 for this Palm-produced electronic organizer that, per The New York Times' glowing account, "share[d] data with a desktop computer and synchronize[d] information quickly on both machines."

Photo by: CNET

Unlimited internet

In late 1996, AOL, then known as America Online or "That Company That Bombarded Everyone's Mailboxes with Floppy Disks and CDs," announced it would charge $19.95 a month for unlimited access to the web. (It previously charged the same amount for just 20 hours' worth.)

AOL wasn't the first provider to go this route, but it was the biggest.

Photo by: Getty Images

Honda EV Plus

The EV Plus was at the forefront of the original alternative-fuel revolution -- the one that failed. Born in 1997, the green Honda featured a battery that could go 125 miles between chargings.

Like many of its electric brethren, the EV Plus was available only for lease, and when the lease was up, Honda took it back.

Photo by: AFP/Getty Images

Grand Theft Auto

This is how the blockbuster franchise started, with the 1997 release of "the most violent piece of gaming on the PlayStation yet," as GameSpot judged GTA back in the day.

Graphically, the original was "a little plain" (even for an era where games, such as this one, were still released for MS-DOS), but its visceral charms charmed, and it went on to sell 125 million copies.

Photo by: Take-Two Interactive

PowerBook 1400

This machine, launched in late 1996 and listed for $2,499 ($2,899, if you wanted the CD-ROM), perked up the then-troubled Apple.

While it wasn't considered all that fast, it was considered reliable and was hailed for the innovation that was the BookCover, a portion of the 1400's lid that allowed the user to insert a design element of choice. Today's laptop-skin industry owes a debt.

Photo by: Associated Press


At a time when fewer than 40 percent of US households had a PC, this TV-based internet service seemed a doable alternative. Plus, it allowed people to do crazy things, like, as the New York Times described, simultaneously watch "The X-Files" and tap out an email.

Photo by: Associated Press

Cordless telephones with 'GigaRange'

So, GigaRange is still a thing in the Panasonic universe, but in the late 1990s, it was a big thing. It promised to deliver 20 times more range than the ordinary cordless telephone, enough to allow you to carry on a conversation from your house all the way to the backyard!

Photo by: Panasonic

Nintendo 64

Behold "the world's first true 64-bit home video game," as the Associated Press described it in 1996, the year Nintendo 64 debuted in the United States.

Photo by: Associated Press

Sony Mavica MVC-FD5

Hailed by Time as one of the all-time top 100 gadgets, the FD5 solved the problem of sharing digital photos: with a 3.5-inch floppy disk! Just snap, save to the disk, remove the disk, put the disk in a computer, upload the file, eject the disk from the computer, pass on the disk to the next person and -- voila! -- your pic is going viral, 1997-style.

Photo by: Sony


The year 1997 was a breakthrough year for the long-in-development audio format. MP3.com launched, and quickly became a gateway to free and cheap songs and albums. The writing was on the wall for the music industry, and Napster and iTunes hadn't even come along yet.

Photo by: AFP/Getty Images


Want to see the future of car technology?

Brian Cooley found it for you at CES 2017 in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

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