Sometimes, it’s the ‘back in my day’ stories that remind us how fast time flies. A scroll through social media, a glimpse of childhood toys or shows, and suddenly you realize how much has changed. Here are 30 things that didn’t exist 30 years ago, despite how iconic they have become.
Email has become such a routine part of our lives that it’s easy to forget it wasn’t until 1996 that the first web-based email service was launched. It is hard to believe the first Hotmail accounts were created just 27 years ago.
We are constantly reminded that smartphone technology is changing, but it’s hard to remember them ever not being there. It’s easy to forget the first technical smartphone or the IBM Simon Personal Communicator, wasn’t released until 1994.
3. The Magic School Bus
Many of us grew up with Ms. Frizzle and the children on “The Magic School Bus.” The first season of the fictional TV show wasn’t aired until 1994, making it only 29 years old.
Although many of us have probably long stopped watching The Magic School Bus, this is not the case for “Friends.” This show also launched in 1994 and remains very close to many of us still to this day.
As something almost everyone with a phone or computer uses daily, it is hard to believe that Google didn’t exist until 25 years ago. Now offering an entire cloud of services, it’s easy to say the search engine has come a long way.
6. Goosebumps TV Show
Although R.L. Stine began publishing his books a few years earlier, it wasn’t until 1995 that the first episode of the Canadian-American children’s anthology horror television series, “Goosebumps,” hit the TV screen. The series has now been adapted into more recent movies and even a new TV show that aired just this year.
7. Nintendo 64
Nintendo games are still a huge part of many people’s lives today. The first Nintendo 64 game console was released in Japan and North America in 1996. Although it is no longer many people’s first choice of game console, some of the systems can still be found today.
Barbie dolls have been around for many years, but many of us grew up on Bratz dolls, as well. It wasn’t until 2001 though, that the first set of Bratz dolls was released, making them only 22 years old.
While we are talking about “old” toys, we can’t forget about Furbys. Many people still have their collections today. The first era of Furbys, comprising eight generations, ran from 1998 to 2002. The first generation, released in 1998, consisted of just six models.
10. Nano Pets
On the topic of iconic toys, remember Nano Pets? Those tiny LCD screens of virtual pets first came to life in 1996 with the introduction of the first Bandai Tamagotchi virtual pet. Many more were still to be created in the decades to come.
Most people now seem to use Netflix today as their go-to streaming service, either by their own account or through someone else’s. It has now been 25 years since its invention and 23 years since it began mailing out prepaid return envelopes with popular DVDs for TV shows and movies.
On the topic of DVDs, or “digital video discs,” those also weren’t created until 1995. As old as they seem now, it wasn’t even until 1996 that the first DVD players hit Japan’s market.
Shopping on Amazon has become a routine for many people due to convenience, speed of delivery, and competitive prices. It wasn’t until July 5, 1994, that it first launched, several years before Amazon Prime was even available.
14. Flash Drives
It’s obvious computer technology is developing rapidly, but it wasn’t until 2000 that the first commercially available USB flash drive, or “ThumbDrive,” was produced. Now many of us utilize online cloud services for storing our everyday work.
Although most of us now just use our cell phones for listening to music on the go, there was a time when the iconic “iPod” changed the industry. That time was the year 2001.
Speaking of Apple products, the original iPhone was released in June 2007. As of mid-September, all the versions up to the iPhone 15 have been released.
17. Spiderman Movies
With as many icons as Spiderman, such as Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, it’s hard to believe that Tom Holland’s popular portrayal of a more child-like Spiderman is not all that far from the creation of the original movies. It was only in 2002 that “Spider-MAn” was first released.
Many of us can’t start our day without a cup of coffee. While the caffeinated beverage itself has been around for a long time, the first Keurig, which allowed smaller portions at faster speeds, was released in 1998.
19. Bean Boozled
Jelly beans have also been around for many years, along with children’s love for parking their friends. The two topics combined in 2007, creating Jelly Belly’s first Russian Roulette-like product, “Bean Boozled.”
20. Spongebob SquarePants
Spongebob Squarepants has enjoyed decades of popularity. Although the popular yellow talking sponge with square pants has undergone many changes throughout the years, it was the episode “Help Wanted,” which premiered on Nickelodeon in 1999, that started it all.
21. Raisin Bran Crunch
Many cereals, such as Cheerios, Rice Krispies, and Froot Loops, have been around for decades. Another popular cereal that almost feels like it has been around just as long as Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch, although that wasn’t invented until 1999. Raisin Bran itself, however, has been around since 1926.
22. Social Media
What now seems like old social media is Facebook and Myspace, but social media was technically first born in 1997 with the introduction of SixDegrees.com, five years before Myspace. It seems so old now, but it was only 27 years ago.
23. The Lion King
The iconic movie “The Lion King” has now been remade and even turned into a Broadway show. While many of us may think of it as old Disney, which is true to some degree, the movie first came to life in 1994, making it only 29 years old.
The GPS has been worked on for decades, however, it wasn’t until 1999 that the first commercially available GPS phone came to be. It was called the “Benefon Esc!” and was sold mainly in Europe. We have come a long way since then.
Any of us growing up in the early 2000s with dreams of becoming an author have probably heard of Wattpad. The online site for sharing stories was first found by Allen Lau and Ivan Yuen in 2006 with their vision to create a space for others to share their fictional stories.
26. The Kindle
On the subject of reading, the first generation of the Kindle was born, giving many of us another option for reading without worrying about taking up extra space or flipping pages.
27. Taylor Swift
Many people now list Taylor Swift among their favorite artists. While we are reminded of the different “eras” of music, we can’t forget her first song, “Tim McGraw,” was only released in 2006.
Back to the topic of the internet and streaming videos, YouTube was first released in 2005. Now, even that video streaming site offers a form of subscription service.
29. Justin Bieber
Speaking of early YouTube and popular musicians, Justin Bieber himself will be turning 30 years old in March 2024. Even his first YouTube videos began being uploaded in 2007.
Thinking back to our younger days, many of us have played or know someone who has played Webkinz. It was in 2005 that it was first founded, followed by many years of picking out our stuffed pets at the store and putting their codes online to watch them come to life.
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Karee Blunt is a nationally syndicated travel journalist, focused on discovering destinations and experiences that captivate and inspire others through her writing. She is also the founder of Our Woven Journey, a travel site focused on inspiring others to create memory-making adventures with their loved ones. Karee is passionate about encouraging others to step out of their comfort zone and live the life they dream of. She is the mother of six kids, including four through adoption, and lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about Karee on her about me page.