The 90s were filled with innovations that pushed the limits of technology and paved the way for many recognizable parts of daily living today, from text messaging to chat apps, CDs to streaming services, as well as the rise of the internet. As a result of this innovation boom, many 90s gadgets were seen as “high-tech,” and anyone who owned them was instantly considered cool.
Below are some of the coolest 90s gadgets that you might recognize:
If you’ve ever owned a Tamagotchi, you probably know the struggles of keeping your virtual pet alive. These egg-shaped digital toys were created by Bandai in the mid-1990s, offering kids around the world a simple game: hatching and nurturing a digital creature in real-time, keeping its space clean and preventing it from dying of neglect.
Despite the 8-bit, black-and-white display, Tamagotchis themselves came out in a multitude of outer shell designs. Not only did this make the toy cool to show off to your friends, but they also looked great when hanging from your bag!
Walkman and Discman
If you were a music lover, you probably remember these two 90s gadgets: the Walkman and Discman. Walkmans were a carryover from the 80s but were still highly popular in the 90s for listening to cassette tapes on-the-go. When cassettes were slowly giving way to CDs, the Discman emerged as the easy replacement.
Before the age of streaming services like Spotify, the only way you could listen to your favorite artists was to get their albums and pop them into your Walkman or Discman. If you had time on your hands, you might have even made a mixtape or two for you and your friends!
RELATED: What Was Life Like Without Spotify?
While it was initially released in 1989, the Nintendo GameBoy peaked in popularity in the 90s. Of course, there were other gaming consoles in the market around that time, too, but the GameBoy was the iconic handheld gaming system of the era.
Unlike Tamagotchis that only had a singular game, the GameBoy could let you play all types of games via cartridge. You could easily buy, trade or borrow new games from friends once you had finished your own.
In 1998, Nintendo took the GameBoy a step further and released the GameBoy Color. With a screen that supported colored graphics, handheld gaming reached new heights and provided even more fun for kids and adults alike.
Coming from older cellphone models that were boxy and bulky, the Motorola StarTAC was naturally viewed as an impressive leap in mobile technology.
Released in 1996, it was not only the first legitimate flip phone on the market, but it was also one of the smallest models available in those years. This 90s gadget created a familiar shape and silhouette that influenced the later Motorola phones of the following decade.
You instantly felt like a “cool kid” if you even got to use one of these to send or receive SMS messages or make calls. While these simple features may pale in comparison to what the latest phones can do, they were the peak of technology in the 90s.
Polaroid I-Zone PocketCam
Printed photographs were and have always been a great way to preserve important moments and memories for the future. So, it’s no surprise that the Polaroid instant camera became a hit. Instead of waiting for the film to develop at the shop, you could see your photos come out in a few seconds.
The Polaroid I-Zone PocketCam built on this concept even further by allowing you to print a long strip of photos, each one the size of a postage stamp. Best of all, depending on the film you have, you could use your photos as stickers. Kids who got to use the I-Zone PocketCam seemed to be living lightyears ahead of everyone else.
Apple is best known for its forward-thinking forays into personal devices, and the MessagePad was no different. This device was developed by John Scully, who was responsible for coining the term personal digital assistant (PDA). The MessagePad embodied the term as it functioned as a notepad, calendar, clock and more—all while being small enough to fit in your pocket.
With a stylus that allowed you to write and use gestures on its screen, the MessagePad paved the way for the more popular Palm Pilot and other similar 90s gadgets. The succeeding devices became the blueprint for the smartphones we know and love today, including some of the new Apple products.
#Throwback to Things That Matter
Growing up in the 90s was memorable for being a turning point for culture and technology. Looking back on 90s gadgets is both fun and fascinating—what was cutting-edge at the time was just the first step into what future tech is capable of now. The same can be said about the technology we have today.
How many gadgets did you recognize? Share this article with family or friends and reminisce about the 90s together!