Most excellent tech toys from the 1990s

We've come a long way since Netscape Navigator, the beginning of Linux, and the AOL 'welcome' voice

Technology from the 1990s

Ah, the 1990s -- a decade of "Friends," Nirvana, and a whole lot of technological innovation. Let's take a trip down memory lane, trying not to get lost because we don't have GPS.

More nostalgia: Looking back at the Windows XP era


"Connecting via TCP/IP …" the beeping, screeching noise, and the iconic "welcome!" voice. What's not to like? Well, plenty, as it turns out. But in the 1990s, odds are you were using AOL at least part of the time.


Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis

If you grew up in the 1990s, and you're even a little bit nerdy, you almost certainly have an opinion on these two iconic consoles. (Hint: There is no wrong choice here, except for Sega.)

Credit: MIT

In 1991, University of Helsinki student Linus Torvalds embarked on a project that would both change the computing world and spur the creation of a subculture of people who use the dollar sign instead of the letter "s" in the word "Microsoft."

Text messages

According to the BBC, the first text message ("merry christmas") was sent in 1992. By the end of the decade, cell phones had begun to be used primarily for things other than phone calls, though that may be due partially to the fact that call quality "wash vry prrr ... BEEP BEEP BEEP."

CD caddies

These secondary cases were used in some early CD-ROM drives to make sure the disc didn't get scratched, or something. To be honest, we're really not sure what the point of them was. We remember them always getting stuck and causing us to blow our stacks out of frustration.

The Tamagotchi

If you always wanted a pet but your parents (correctly) decided that you were too irresponsible, the 1990s had you covered, thanks to the Tamagotchi. These … adorable? ... digital pets would demand care and attention. But since you carried them on your keychain, you couldn't just strap them to the roof of the car like Mitt Romney's dog.

We avoided these since we're the biggest softies in the world -- and we know for a fact that we'd quickly get embarrassingly attached.

Graphing calculators

Admittedly, these aren't purely a 1990s thing. But goodness, that sure was a heyday for them. We're sure they're still used only for upper-level math classes and never, ever to slack off and play games in an inconspicuous way. Also, can we talk about the fact that these still cost a lot of money?

Credit: Softpedia
Netscape Navigator

Hey, how'd this get in here? We definitely don't remember an alternative Web browser that was a lot more popular than IE for a long time, nor do we remember Microsoft gruesomely devouring it as a warning to others. Nope. No sir.


If there's one thing the home entertainment world was crying out for in the 1990s, it was the ability to watch a movie with the director's voice droning on about how great everyone is. Oh yeah, and dramatically improved picture quality.

Credit: Wikipedia
The Discman

In a stunning example of a seismic paradigm shift in portable audio technology, the Discman singlehandedly stole the market from the audio cassette, a pattern that has never repeated itself since. We assume.

Credit: Wikipedia
The pager

Pagers and beepers enjoyed a brief renaissance in the 1990s, although the advent of the cell phone more or less put a stop to that. At least among people who don't work in hospitals.

More nostalgia: Looking back at the Windows XP era