25 things that will take you back to 1999

Rediscover 1999 with 25 nostalgic items and moments, from iconic trends to memorable cultural moments.

For many of us the 90s seem like yesterday, but it was actually 25 years ago!  We’re celebrating our birthday at Trade Me this year after 25 years of helping Kiwi and providing a platform to buy and sell preloved items, properties, cars/vehicles, jobs and more.

 A lot has changed in those 25 years. Back in ‘99 we didn’t have dating apps, our books were only in the paperform (no eReader for you), you would wait patiently for a CD single release and maps were something you’d store in your car, not your phone. 

So let's throwback to the simpler times of life: get ready to feel nostalgic with our list of 25 things that will take you back to 1999.

Real alarm clocks:

Our mornings in 1999 didn’t start scrolling through social media to see what the latest trend was. It began with the persistent ringing of a physical alarm clock, or if you were lucky an FM radio so you could be awoken with the joy of the news or the latest chart topper (Cher’s Believe topped the 1999 charts). There were no options to set multiple alarms like you can now on your phone, instead it was one alarm set the night before and a snooze button to get those extra few minutes. Ah, the nostalgia!

Game Boy:

The Gameboy, a portable gaming device that gave us hours of entertainment with classic video games like Pokémon and Super Mario - a true '90s kid essential.


These cute little guys which can only be described as a furry owl-slash-hamster were all the rage in the late 90s after their release in 1998. It was one of the first interactive toys and one that taught us responsibility and the art of conversation. The Furby was the must-have toy of the 90s and recently have had a resurgence as the now-grown-ups reminisce on their childhoods buying them for their kids or nieces and nephews.

Floppy disks

The Floppy disk, a universal data format that was used to save, retrieve and file share with others. We have since moved onto CDs, USB drives, SSD drives and also the cloud but the symbolism of the floppy disk will always stay with us.

Beanie Babies were all the rage in the 90s and early 2000s

Beanie Babies

You could not enter a girls bedroom in the 90s without seeing a Beanie Baby. These collectible stuffed animals were more than just toys; they were investments! Everyone had their favourite Beanie Baby, carefully preserved in the hopes of a future fortune.

Paper Maps

In a world of smartphones it's hard to imagine a time where you wouldn’t have an easily accessible map in your pocket. In 1999 we were navigating the world without GPS and instead relied on the trusty paper map for road trips and adventures, unfolding the giant sheets in the car and getting into too many arguments.

Pay Phones

As the famous Maroon 5 song goes “I'm at a payphone, trying to call home, all of my change I spent on you”. Before mobile phones were a standard practice, some people didn’t have a phone on them all the time so payphones were the only option to use when out and about. A pocket full of change - or a Telecom phone card - and you were connected with the world.

The Spice Girls even had their own dolls

Spice Girls everything

The Spice Girls were everywhere, with a different type of Spice for everyone, they soared in popularity until the early 2000s when they started to part ways. From dolls to books, and even a movie, The Spice Girls were the definition of pop culture.

Double Denim

Known as a fashion faux pas in recent times, double denim was all the rage back in the 90s and early 2000s, most famously worn by Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake to the American Music Awards as a matching couple. Although it is generally more accepted now, there are rules to stick to ensuring you don't miss the mark. Check out our secondhand fashion guide for more tips.

Harry Potter

With the first book released in 1997, Harry Potter quickly started to build a cult following with the books flying off the shelves. It wasn’t until 2001 we got the first film and things went crazier!

Video rental shops

Video streaming services were not a thing in the 90s which meant if you wanted to watch the movie all your friends were talking about you’d have to head to the local video rental store. The joy of browsing the aisles for movie night!  Which on occasion took longer than actually watching the movie.  Don’t forget having to wind back your VHS tape before you return it too.

Y2K panic

The looming fear of the Y2K bug and the anticipation of what would happen when the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve 1999.

Dial-up internet

We can still hear it now, the infamous dial-up sound followed by the agonising wait for a connection. Then there was the conflict that arose when someone in the household wanted to use the landline whilst someone else was on the internet and a game of bargaining ensued. Thankfully we now have broadband but we sometimes miss the symphony of nostalgia that dial-up gave us. 


A pager was a way to keep connected when on the go.  As the price for mobile phones started to decline, so did the use of pagers which were once a status symbol and the epitome of cool. You might still see pagers in restaurants which let you know when your table or food is ready but these days the old clip-on-your-belt pagers have almost completely been replaced by the mobile phone.


Before the internet the only way to get someone's contact information was to pull out the hefty book filled with numbers. The phonebook was our go-to resource for finding contact information before the digital age took over.

Vinyl, cassette tapes and CDs

Before we could digitally stream music, we cherished our music collections in the form of vinyl records, cassette tapes, and CDs. A lot has changed in the world of music since 1999. Vinyl records have since made a comeback, but in 1999, it was the last frontier of music. The crackle and warmth of a record player was music to our ears. Then there was the trusty cassette tape which you’d have to rewind with a pen or pencil after they’d been played. Or if you were lucky you’d have a more modern cassette player that would do it for you but patience was key. Ah, the joys of analog music!

Before we could digitally stream music, we cherished our music collections in the form of CDs which we neatly stored in those iconic plastic cases. Much like playlists now, looking into someone's CD case was a look into their world.

No streaming services were available back then


We had all these CD’s but how would we play them? Before iPods, we had the Walkman. The joy of creating mixtapes and listening to them on the go with our bulky but beloved cassette or CD players.

Fax machine

The fax machine, a technological marvel for sending documents over the phone line. The whirring and beeping sounds are etched into our memories, as is the fear of accidentally punching in the wrong number and sending the fax to a random person. You’d be lucky to find one of these machines now that email has taken over.


The responsibility of caring for a virtual pet was placed in our hands with Tamagotchis. Keeping them alive and happy was a serious business! Many Tamagotchi were lost along the way when you had to go away and leave it in the care of your parents.

Boy bands

Yes, we’ve had One Direction since, but the boy band trend seems to have dropped off in recent times. It was huge back in the 90s with the likes of Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Take That and Westlife controlling the charts. It was weird if the music video didn’t feature everyone dressed in white…

MSN messenger

Instant messaging on MSN Messenger was how we connected with friends after school. Customised ‘away’ messages were an art form and a way of telling the person you liked that they were your number one. This was our first version of social media.

Nokia 3310

The indestructible Nokia 3310 was the go-to mobile phone. Snake, interchangeable faceplates, and a battery that seemed to last forever.

You'd have to wait to see how your photos turned out

Disposable cameras

Capturing memories meant using disposable cameras, taking them to the local photo lab, and eagerly awaiting the prints to see how your photos turned out. There were usually a few shots with a thumb popping out of the corner of the photo but we loved them nonetheless. Don't worry you can still live that nostalgia with a film camera which is more cost effective.

Things can change so quickly. Even our website has changed throughout the years, see where we began and where we are now below.

Trade Me through the years


Sophie Graham
Sophie Graham
Meet Sophie Graham, a seasoned Digital Content Producer with over 7 years of experience in content production and marketing. Armed with a BA degree in TV and Radio, Sophie brings a unique blend of creativity and expertise to her work. Passionate about storytelling and leveraging digital platforms, she crafts engaging content that resonates with audiences. With a knack for staying ahead of trends and a commitment to quality, Sophie is dedicated to delivering impactful narratives that captivate and inspire.