Newsweek’s 1997 Gadget Shopping List: Merry Christmas Past!


A snowy Christmas in Chicago has given us time to dig through our parents’ Newsweek archives, including some amazing Bill Gates covers — see photos below.

More topical: Gems like this year-end gadget shopping guide from the Nov. 24, 1997 issue. (Cover story: “Can we stop Saddam?”) On the Newsweek editors’ Christmas lists:

  • PalmPilot (PALM) Professional, $369. And don’t forget a bevy of accessories, like the Metricom Ricochet wireless modem — another $349, plus $30/month for service.
  • Seiko MessageWatch, $79.95 to $189.95. For $14.95 a month, you get unlimited local paging and email up to 16 characters long. By the way, where’s our Casio TwitterWatch?
  • Sony (SNE) Playstation, $149. Better than its rivals, the Nintendo N64 and Sega’s Saturn, says Newsweek. Wacky 1997 rumour: Sega will be working on an “affordable but ultrahighend 128-bit system possibly in partnership with–guess who–Microsoft” (MSFT).
  • Motorola (MOT) StarTac 8600 Cellular Phone, $800 to $1,200. Motorola’s big hit of the late ’90s, this phone was even “wearable” with the right armband or necklace accessory. Includes a built-in answering machine!
  • Midisoft Family Music centre, $199.95. Four octave programmable keyboard, doubles as a digital studio mixer.
  • Canon PowerShot 350 Digital Camera, $599. No mention of megapixels, but enough memory to store 47 pictures at once. “For even more pictures, snap in the 2MB CompactFlash memory card.”
  • “Austin Powers” DVD, $25. “For those early adopters on your Christmas list who already have Digital Video Disc (DVD) players hooked up in their home entertainment centres.”
  • Rolodex Rex PC Companion, $129 to $179. Tiny, read-only pocket organiser “so small you could conceal it under a credit card” — “the equivalent of a stuffed Filofax.”
  • Alphasmart 2000 Keyboard, $249. A keyboard with a built-in word processor that can store up to 64 pages of single-spaced text. Synchs up with an Apple (AAPL) Mac or PC.
  • Sony SPP-SS960 Digital Spread Spectrum Phone, $199. Cordless home phone.
  • Fritz 5 Chess, $88. PC chess game with a talking coach, database of 100,000 games and a “dazzling library of opening moves.”

Bonus: Apple “Think Different” ad with $5,699 PowerBook G3 notebook.

Meanwhile, we’ll give some of these other relics a skimming this week and see if there’s anything worth excerpting.


More blasts from the past:
Tech Bubble 1.0 Stars: Where Are They Now?
Toast: Tech’s Forgotten Brands