I'm just old enough to remember interactive CD-ROMs from the early days of the internet. Back in the '90s, countless brands and publications offered CDs you'd put in your computer and they'd have little games, information about whatever product they came with, and links to their websites which, at the time, felt incredibly high-tech. A YouTube channel dedicated to old Top Gear content recently posted this video, showing off an Interactive CD-ROM from Top Gear magazine, from the late '90s and I can't help but smile watching it.
For anyone old enough to remember these sorts of CD-ROMs, this video is a very welcome shot of nostalgia. For a younger generation, who doesn't know what the hell a CD-ROM is, this will serve as a little blast into an unfamiliar past.
The video actually shows off three bits of '90s Top Gear media, two of which being interactive CD-ROMs, while the other is a cassette tape which was outdated even then. Of the two CD-ROMs, one is a bit more interesting because it features a surprisingly comprehensive buyer's guide for every new car on the market from 1993-1996. Not only does it list every car on sale in the UK during those years, it also gives you just about every piece of information you could ever want about them. Everything from their specs to their original insurance and warranty costs are listed in this one CD-ROM.
One of the CD-ROM's more entertaining features is the Top Gear screensaver, from back when quirky screensavers were novel. It essentially just has random cars driving back and forth across the screen, one of which being Jeremy Clarkson on motorcycle, and if the cars hit randomized hedgehogs crossing the road, there's a little blood splatter and a fart noise. It's about as delightfully immature as you imagine a screensaver from Jeremy Clarkson would be.
The cassette tape is just 20 minutes of Jeremy Clarkson talking about cars and car culture, which is always entertaining, even if his '90s references and metaphors are a bit cringe-worthy nowadays.
As someone who grew up with these sorts of CD-ROMs, this video was a welcome splash of nostalgia on a warm Sunday afternoon. There's very little from the '90s I'd like to have back, especially not my terrible bowl-cut and denim shorts, but remembering what cars were like back in my younger days does make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
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