You can probably think of a few of the gadgets you owned or coveted in the 1990s, just like you can probably think of a cell phone or two that you wanted in the early 2000s, or name a few of the biggest tech failures of the 2000s. But can you remember all of the ground-breaking new gadgets we all wanted in the nineties, but never see in the wild anymore? Read on to check out our favorite best-selling ’90s gadgets that may have paved the way to the gadgets we have now, but have long been put to rest.
Camcorders started to gain popularity in the 1980s and really took off in the 1990s, when many parents invested in camcorders to capture their home videos. JVC had introduced the first VHS-C video camera in the early 1980s, and in 1995, JVC, Panasonic, Sony, and other manufacturers launched camcorders that used the DV digital file format that was recorded onto magnetic tape in cassette tapes in a variety of different sizes and formats.
2. Game Boy
The Game Boy was technically released at the very end of the 1980s, but it became one of the most coveted gadgets of the ’90s thanks to games like Tetris and Super Mario Land. Developed and manufactured by Nintendo, it was the first handheld console in the Game Boy line and was a major success. It wasn’t exactly easy to carry around in a pocket, and you often had to blow on a cartridge to get it to work. But games like Legend of Zelda and Metroid made it worth it.
3. iMac G3
The iMac G3 was a desktop computer that you probably used at school in the late 1990s or early 2000s. The device is easy to recognize thanks to its colorful, translucent plastic casing, and was the first consumer-oriented Apple product to debut under the tenure of the newly-returned Steve Jobs.
4. Motorola StarTAC
The Motorola StarTAC was released in 1996 and was not only the first flip phone, but was the smallest cell phone available at the time. The StarTAC was also one of the first cell phones to achieve wide consumer adoption and sold tens of millions of units. The phone could send and receive SMS messages, had a flashing green light to indicate that it was connected to the network, and was one of the first phones to offer vibration alerts as an alternative to a ringtone.
5. Nokia 5110
Another highly recognizable 1990s cell phone was the Nokia 5510. It was introduced in 1998, and featured a rugged build and long battery life. It was one of the first cell phones to have interchangeable faceplates, which Nokia called “Xpress-on Covers,” and enabled users to customize their devices. The Nokia 5110 was also one of the first cell phones to feature the game Snake.
6. Palm Pilot
The Palm Pilot was the perfect way to organize your calendar and your contacts before the advent of the smartphone. “Pilot” refers to the first two generations of Palm’s PDAs, which ran the Palm OS and were developed after the Palm Computing founders determined that they could not only create better handwriting recognition software, but better hardware than what was currently on the market.
7. Portable DVD player
The first portable DVD player was introduced by Panasonic in 1998. Portable DVD players not only enabled you to watch DVDs when you were away from home (like in the backseat of the family car on a road trip), but could sometimes fulfill additional functions like playing music from CDs.
8. PowerBook 150
The PowerBook 150 was introduced in 1994 as Apple’s first affordable PowerBook. It was the last PowerBook to feature the original case design, with its integrated trackball mouse. The PowerBook 150 was part of Apple’s lower-end PowerBook 100 line. It got about 2.5 hours of battery life and weighed 5.5 pounds, and was one of the company’s more upgradable laptops in terms of storage.
9. Sega Genesis
The Sega Genesis was a 16-bit gaming console, technically released at the very end of the 1980s, that succeeded on the merits of popular games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Mortal Kombat, and Super Street Fighter. The Genesis was Sega’s third console, and ultimately supported a library of more than 900 games. The console was marketed aggressively toward children, which may explain why ’90s kids thought that this was the console to have.
10. Sony Walkman or Discman
Zoning out and listening to your own music in the ’90s didn’t require an iPod or a smartphone. Instead, it necessitated either a Walkman or a Discman, depending on whether you were listening to cassettes or CDs. In either case, having your own device, and a stash of favorite albums to go with it, was key to getting through those preteen or teenage years.
11. Super Nintendo
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES for short, was a 16-bit video game console released in 1990, 1991, or 1992, depending on where you lived. It followed the NES as Nintendo’s second home console, and featured more sophisticated graphics and audio compared to the other consoles on the market at the time.
Featured prominently in Home Alone 2, the TalkBoy became a coveted toy among ’90s children of all ages. This gadget was an audio recorder that could either speed up or slow down a recording, which made it perfect for the kind of pranks we all learned to pull thanks to ’90s movies.
A Tamagotchi put a virtual pet into a tiny handheld gadget. The egg-shaped toy was first introduced in 1993 in Japan, and became one of the most recognizable toys of the 1990s. You had to keep your pet fed and healthy, or it could die in the space of a day. That made these gadgets so addictive that plenty of schools banned them.
14. Tiger handheld games
Nineties kids who didn’t have a Game Boy often had at least a couple of Tiger’s handheld games, which had LCD screens and would light up static characters and objects in front of the background. In addition to releasing a few of its own games, Tiger licensed popular arcade, NES, and Sega games for its handhelds.
15. Philips TiVo HDR110
The Philips HDR110, released in 1999, was the first commercially-produced TiVo digital video recorder. Its launch forever changed the way we watch television, and gave plenty of people a reason to upgrade their VCR. The original TiVo digitized and compressed analog video from an antenna, cable, or broadcast satellite.
The TI-83 series of graphing calculators was popular in many high school math classes. This series of calculators was particularly popular among high school students because these calculators could play games like Tetris, PacMan, and Minesweeper when they weren’t being used for algebra homework.