The 1990s were known for a lot of things: The golden age of Nickelodeon, the lovable antics of the Tanner family on Full House, grunge rock, and other relics of pop culture that made the decade such a delightful time to be alive... unless, of course, you happen to be a hardcore techie. Compared to today, you might as well have been living in the stone age! Still, that isn’t to say it was all bad, but there were some pieces of technology so awful that they leave us ranting incoherently. Check out our list of five most embarrassing pieces of technology from the ‘90s!
1) Nintendo Virtual Boy
The Virtual Boy is the one discussion topic that makes Nintendo fans abruptly leave the room with a curt “I don’t want to talk about it.” Why? Well, you’d feel the same way if the system was regarded as a blemish on your sterling reputation. Suffering from an exorbitant price tag, a lack of decent games, and a visually oppressive red monochromatic display that caused eye strain and other symptoms from extended periods of play, the Virtual Boy was discontinued almost within the same year it was released. The Virtual Boy was intended to usher in the age of 3D gameplay, but it succeeded in giving children of the ‘90s pounding headaches and nausea.
LaserDisc technology has been around in one form or another since the late ‘70s, but it was prevalent well into the late ‘90s. While it was considered the next step in quality home entertainment for over 20 years ago, the format began to show its age toward the end of the 20th century. First, they were extremely expensive and owned by only the most affluent of families. Second, they had to be flipped over IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MOVIE. Third, LaserDiscs. Were. Huge. No fooling, you can practically hurl these things like Captain America’s shield and take down HYDRA!
3) Apple Newton MessagePad 100
Years before the advent of the iPod Touch and iPad, the Apple Newton MessagePad 100 was the company’s flagship mobile device. Making its debut in 1993, the MessagePad allowed users to jot down quick notes or memos on the device, a feature that was panned by critics everywhere from day one. Aside from a frustratingly short battery life, the MessagePad’s handwriting recognition was spotty, leading to the misinterpretation of notes that made absolutely no sense—a technological blunder that The Simpsons put into wonderful perspective.
4) Philips CD-i
First released in 1991, the multi-media console known as the Philips CD-i was doomed for failure the moment it hit the market at a whopping $700, which was well out of the price range of the average consumer at the time. Things only got worse from there with the release of one lackluster video game after another, primarily with a misguided focus on “edu-tainment.” Among the system’s library of deplorable abominations were Hotel Mario, Zelda’s Adventure, and—we kid thee not—The Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe, all games likely to have been received as gifts from out-of-touch grandparents. Even though it was capable of playing music and Video CDs, a prehistoric relative of the DVD, these features didn’t reconcile with the fact that, as a game console, the Philips CD-i was utter garbage.
The R-Zone from Tiger Electronics was kind of like the Virtual Boy, except it was smaller, made of cheaper plastic, and made you look like a cyborg with an eye patch. That and its subpar graphics just barely qualified as a virtual reality simulation—so it has the distinguished honor of sucking more than Nintendo’s VR debacle. To its credit, though, the commercial was a hundred times more fun than actually playing the R-Zone.
Own any pieces of terrible ‘90s tech? Let us know in the comments!