Hey, remember 1997? The year had everything: Bill Clinton, "Friends," "Titanic" and Beanie Babies. Oh, and of course, that year also offered some truly cutting-edge technology -- or at least, it was cutting-edge at the time.
Let's travel 20 years into the past to relive the days 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.
The biggest partisan fight of 1997 wasn't between Republicans and Democrats, but between supporters of the free Internet Explorer and paid Netscape Navigator browsers.
In October of that year, Netscape was dominant, but by the time AOL bought Netscape in 1999, Internet Explorer had taken over.
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The hottest tech toy fad of 1997 was the Tamagotchi -- a virtual pet on a keychain first popularized in Japan. The toys quickly sold out in stores, such as the KB Toys seen here.
Published:Caption:Joal RyanPhoto:Spencer Weiner, LA Times via Getty Images
There were plenty of Tamagotchi clones out there, too.
Tiger's digital dogs, frogs and whatnot were digital characters that lived in beeper-like devices that beeped when the "animals" pooped or needed to be fed, just like Tamagotchi. ("Don't upset your Giga Pet," the commercial warned.)
The late '90s were an awkward, transitional time for data storage. This MiniDisc player is a relic from the era, using Sony's ill-fated magneto-optical 1GB discs.
A MiniDisc could hold 80 minutes of high-quality music, but the format never developed a fan base and was quickly outdone by less-expensive CD-R technology.
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If you were streaming music on your computer in 1997, chances are you used Real Network's then-ubiquitious RealPlayer to do it. Of course, if you used a dial-up modem to connect, RealPlayer would likely spend more time buffering than actually playing songs.
As for the hottest PlayStation game of 1997... well, it depends on who you ask. Technically, Gran Turismo sold more copies, but we say Final Fantasy VII was the more iconic game with a deep, lasting impact on those who played it.
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.
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."
President Clinton was not an Internet whiz -- he sent a total of two emails while president. Vice President Al Gore, meanwhile, was the geek of the White House circa 1997: He kept a personal computer that he loved showing off to the press.
Known as an "Atari Democrat" while in Congress, Gore promoted high-speed telecommunications bills and the expansion of ARPANET, the technical foundation for the Internet. Gore would be ridiculed by Republicans after stating in 1999 that he "took the initiative in creating the Internet."
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Though you couldn't stroll down to your neighborhood Circuit City to buy one, IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer truly was the hottest tech of May 1997. That's when it made history as the first ever supercomputer to beat a reigning world chess champion in a best-of-six matchup (Garry Kasparov, shown right).
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.
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.
This machine, launched in late 1996 and listed for $2,499 ($2,899 if you wanted the CD-ROM), perked up then-troubled Apple.
While the PowerBook 1400 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.
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 for you to carry on a conversation from your house all the way to the backyard!
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.
The year 1997 was a breakthrough one 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.