As a spoiled ’90s kid, I might be a bit biased in saying this, but the̵
Yes, the 90s was full of flannel and grunge music. Citizens loved shopping malls, MTV and Cringey slang, wore wild JNCO jeans, and loved boy bands and hip-hop music videos. But while the decade brought us many … unique … memories, it also gave us all kinds of fascinating technology, many of which laid the foundation for today’s technology that we cannot live without. We’ve had AOL chat rooms on the World Wide Web, beeps and gigantic colorful iMacs, and we’ve had some of the greatest gadgets too. Shout at Pogs.
Out of a decade obsessed with often bizarre technology emerged the iconic egg-shaped Tamagotchi: digital pets that you could clip onto your keychain. Not only did having a Tamagotchi proved how cool you were, but it also proved that you have your own personal digital pup to look after. Or was it a cat? A monster? An alien? Whatever they were, absolutely no one had a perfect track record of remembering how to feed them and keep them alive. The beeping devices were also some of the first to be banned from classrooms. PS You can buy Tamagotchi today.
Nintendo 64 (1996)
Of all the game consoles that hit the market in the 90s (including the Sony PlayStation or Sega Dreamcast), none was more iconic than the N64. Despite the ridiculous controller, the console brought us such video games as Goldeneye 007, Super mario 64, 1080 snowboarding, Perfect dark, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo Tooie, Pokemon Stadium, Star fox, WaveRace, Turok, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You can still find the odd Nintendo 64 for sale in local game stores, but almost always in a used condition, so be careful with the buyer!
Made famous by Kevin McAllister in Home Alone 2: Lost in New YorkThis bad boy could pick up anything and change the sound of your voice. The TalkBoy (and the pink and purple TalkGirl that came out later) was essentially just a tape recorder, but its speaking abilities meant hours of fun for young kids.
Bop It (1996)
Although the handheld electronic game lacked Flash, Bop It was still a pretty tense game. It called out commands that players should follow, such as “Bop It”, “Pull It” and “Twist It”, and had corresponding physical inputs on the device that could be tampered with. There were multiple game modes and players would fight for the most points. There’s a newer version of the game for sale today with more modern commands like “drink it” and “selfie it”, but the original will always be hard to beat. Literally.
Sony Aibo (1999)
The adorable robot puppy was almost as fun as a real puppy. The Beagle Look-Alike had a self-contained design that was responsive to its surroundings and was fun for kids of all ages, especially kids with allergies. There are newer versions of Aibo out there today, although the $ 2,899.99 price tag is likely too expensive for anyone to enjoy.
Sega Game Gear (1990)
Since the release of the legendary Nintendo Game Boy in 1989, Sega grabbed the first handheld game console of the 90s with the Game Gear and wowed everyone with the color screen. The console featured popular titles such as Sonic the Hedgehog, The GG Shinobi, Sonic chaos, and Land of Illusion with Mickey Mouse. The Game Gear was also known for having exciting peripherals like gear-to-gear interconnect cables, a magnifying glass, carrying case, cheat devices, and car adapters to keep them entertained on road trips.
Game Boy Color (1998)
When Nintendo saw the enthusiastic response to Sega’s color screen, it released the Game Boy Color, which – you guessed it – also had a color screen. Kids liked them because they were smaller, took fewer batteries, and came in cool colors (hence the super dope commercial). The console had a whole fleet of Pokemon and Zelda games, as well as other popular titles like Super Mario Land, Donkey Kong Country, Kirby’s dreamland, Pocket Bomberman, and Mario Golf.
Tickle Me Elmo (1996)
This goes to all young millennials. Because Elmo was pretty much everyone’s favorite Sesame Street Tickle Me Elmo was the perfect merchandise for young children: a soft and loving plush toy that laughed when you tickled it. The toy also sparked several violent frenzies when it gained popularity after it was plugged in by then TV host Rosie O’Donnell. People were seriously injured at stamps while trying to get the dolls, arrested for fighting over the doll, and even tried to rob a van full of dolls. Wait, shouldn’t Tickle Me Elmo represent love and happiness?
Yak Bak (1994)
Similar to Talkboy, the YakBack also lets you record and play back short audio snippets until everyone around you is upset. In later editions of the toy, you could even change the pitch of your voice to be extra annoying. The toy’s capabilities and small design made it easy to hide in your pocket, bag, locker, or anywhere else, and while Yak Bak’s kids were fun, they were undoubtedly the bane of many parents and teachers.
Tiger Electronics Handheld Games (1994)
While not exactly a dedicated game console, the Tiger Electronics handheld games artillery was still an absolute blast. And at around $ 20 per resident, they were also cheaper than consoles and new console games (though the cost of buying several of these would add up over time). Tiger managed to land all kinds of licenses from Batman and Robin and Disney’s The Lion King to X-Men and Mortal Kombat. And good news – Hasbro even recently re-released some titles if you want to relive the fun.
Power Wheels Jeep (1991)
The Power Wheels Jeep was every 90s kid’s dream. It meant we could get in and damn dodge (at least until the battery ran out halfway around the block). Sure, it didn’t go very quickly, but by the time you were four the thing got ripped apart and you could roll yourself to your friend’s house in style. BTW, Millennial and Gen Z Parents, we are committed to passing it on to our kids with newer Power Wheels.
Hit Clips (1999)
I love the 90s, and I love everything on this list … except hit clips. These were a forerunner of MP3 players, but turned crazy left somewhere. Each clip could only play a short portion of a pop or rock song (usually just a riff or the chorus), and the playback was of the lowest quality possible. Individual hit clips cost just under $ 5 per pop, and you’ll need to purchase the teenage companion boombox, which is also $ 20 to play. I’m sticking to CDs, thanks.
Dream phone (1991)
Dream Phone was an electronic board game that revolved around the included pink plastic phone. It’s kind of a combination of Guess Who and Junior High, but when they both went really well and there wasn’t a rejection. Basically, you are using the phone to call (fictional) men for clues as to which (fictional) man likes you and you will narrow your options based on things like the location and what he is wearing. It was named Dream Phone because it was the dream phone scenario for anyone who dreamed of calling a cute boy in real life.
Polaroid i-Zone (1999)
With the Polaroid i-Zone you can take photos, immediately print them out on decorated paper, then cut out and paste them anywhere. Granted, it came out at the end of the decade, but it was such a phenomenal idea that portable photo printers are still a big deal today. And yes, the camera was poor quality, but with three aperture settings it was easy to use and perfect for decorating mirrors, notebooks, and lockers.
Fans of digital pets quickly loved the enigmatic Furby with his posable ears, cute sayings and view from a thousand meters. Furby resembled an owl or a hamster (though it was made in homage to Mogwai Gremlins). The toy was an overnight hit and remained very popular for years after its initial release. Over 40 million units were sold in the first three years. When you first got it, it spoke “furbish,” a gibberish language, but slowly began to use English words. However, the United States National Security Agency banned Furbies from being on the NSA’s property in 1999 for fear of recording or replaying classified information. The ban was later withdrawn.