Collecting: The 1990s
Was your new pet in the 90s animatronic like Furby or Tamagotchi? This 1998 Furby sold for $27 in 2017.
Was your new pet animatronic like Furby or Tamagotchi? Did you record your TV shows with TiVo or play movies with your DVD Player? Did you “knock out the fat” with your George Foreman Grill? Where did you park your Hummer? If you remember any of these you were part of 90’s Tech.
Each was innovative for its time when they were introduced, but do they hold up as collectibles today? Follow along with Modern Marvels 90s Tech on the History Channel and compare recent auction values. You just might have one or two of these innovations somewhere at home.
SONY Aibo ERS-110 Robotic Dog – It is Japanese for “pal” or “partner,” but Aibo (artificial intelligent bot) is really just a robotic pet with moveable limbs and hidden sensors to move and react to real world interaction. Its innovation was that as a robot, it learned from its environment with no human intervention. When introduced in 1999, it sold for $2500 ($3771*); recent auction sales show an unopened, unused Aibo sold for $4000-$5000, but most sell for $300-$600.
Tamagotchi – Another Japanese invention, this is a personal “pet” that required human interaction to evolve. Loosely meaning “egg friend,” this is an “alien” coming to Earth to see what life is like and depending on the level of care it gets, evolves or doesn’t. Released by Bandai in 1997 in the US ,it sold for $17.99 ($28); a Generation One released in US unused in box sold for $600 in 2017, a Japanese one sold for $460; most individual ones can be found for $15 to $30. Note: Digimon was released in summer 1997 and are similar in auction values.
Furby – A furry robotic creature that “learned” English was actually banned from within US security agency offices, because it could repeat what speakers say (just a myth, though). Invented by David Hampton, it was sold through Tiger Electronics when it was released in 1998 (Hasbro took over in 2005). It sold for $35 ($53); original Tiger Electronics Furby’s sold for $300-$700 unopened in original box; most individual ones are auctioned from $15 to $40.
George Foreman Grill – It was the “Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine” when it was introduced in 1994 by Salton, Inc. Invented by Michael Boehm with George Foreman, former heavyweight champion, as its spokesman, it “knocks out the fat.” It sold millions through iconic, late night infomercials at a retail cost of approx. $40 ($65); an original 1995 GR-10 sells for about $20 in original box.
DVD Player – SONY released the first DVD player in March 1997. Special MPEG-2 technology allowed the storage and playback of full movies onto one plastic disc because it had 4x the capacity of a CD or compact disc that stored only music. An early DVD player, similar to the SONY DVP-SR370, sold for about $1000 ($1557), but can be bought virtually anywhere for $30-$40.
TiVo DVR Player – So take your regular TV programming, record it, play it back and pause it at any time. Or play your TV show and pause it and continue it in real time. Released in 1999, this innovation was the first of its kind to allow such direct control over real time TV. The first model was the Philips HDR110 released in March 1999 with 14 hours of recording time. TiVo was available only through service plans; an auction for HDR-212, the next original auctioned for $20.
Digital Camera – Apple Quick Take 100 is “…the first commercial digital camera,” according to TIME magazine after its 1994 release, which might be debatable. Cost was $749 ($1269); auction values for complete in original box sold for $100-$299; individual ones are available for $20-$35. Casio QV-10 was more to the modern digital camera when it was released in 1995, but it had a unique swivel lens and liquid crystal display; it sold for $1000 ($1649) with recent auction value at $125. No auction data for Dycam Model 1 released in 1990 that sold for $995 ($1935).
Global Positioning System Device (GPS) – From Desert Storm to the urban jungle, finding your way by satellite was finally better than unfolding a paper map. The first commercial GPS dashboard unit was the ProNav 100 released in 1991 for $2500 ($4603), which changed its name to Garmin soon after. A search found only one that sold in Germany recently for $12 US. New technology would make the unit very unreliable today.
The Hummer – Again, from the desert to the urban pavement, a military vehicle known as the Humvee (high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle) became the civilian Hummer H1 in 1992. Created by AM General, the thought was that suburbanites should chauffeur the local soccer team in a troop transport, maybe minus the armor plating. It retailed for $70,000 ($125,630)in 1992; an H1 is offered here for $36,500 with a final bid of $26,200 for this one. The H2, a slimmer SUV version, was released in 2002 at MSRP at $53,286 ($72,690); auction records show the H2 being offered at $35,500 and $6,800.
Wolfenstein 3d Video Game – Kill Nazis, dogs and enemies with guns, knives, and other weapons. It’s your job to kill the bosses at each level and advance through the original “first person” video game from id Software. Released in 1992, it was a commercial success enough for awards establishing the standards for every video game that came after. Retail price was $13.95 ($25) auctions today sell for $43 to $169. Doom video game which came after has similar auction values today.
SONY Playstation PS1 – This was the first video game console that played from DVD-style discs rather than cartridges. Released in 1995 in the US, the PS1 complete with controllers retailed for $299 ($493). A complete PlayStation PS1 in original box and all accessories sells for about $60.
The 1990s were all about electronics from toy pets to getting around suburbia. Most of what we take for granted today comes from 90’s technology – some items that are even worth collecting still.
*Note that the selling price of the time is inflation-adjusted in parentheses, if it was known, using the Consumer Price Index Inflation Calculator of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Tom Carrier is a General Worthologist with a specialty in Americana, political memorabilia and he has been the resident WorthPoint vexillologist (flags, seals and heraldry) since 2007. Tom is also a frequent contributor of articles to WorthPoint.
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