I’m just old enough to remember interactive CD-ROMs from the early days of the Internet. In the 90’s, numerous brands and publications offered CDs that you put in your computer and they had little games, information about the product they came up with, and links to their websites that felt incredibly high at the time. Technic. A YouTube channel devoted to old Top Gear content recently posted this video, which features an interactive CD-ROM of Top Gear magazine from the late ’90s and I can’t help but look at it.
For anyone old enough to remember these types of CD-ROMs, this video is a very welcome dose of nostalgia. For a younger generation, who for God’s sake don’t know what a CD-ROM is, this will serve as a little explosion into an unknown past.
The video actually shows three pieces of Top Gear media from the 90s, two of which are interactive CD-ROMs, while the other is a cassette tape that was already outdated at the time. Of the two CD-ROMs, one is a little more interesting because it contains a surprisingly comprehensive buyer’s guide to every new car on the market from 1993-1996. Not only does it list all the cars on sale in the UK during those years, it also gives you just about all the information you could ever want about them. Everything from their specifications to their original insurance and warranty costs are contained on this single CD-ROM.
One of the nicer features of the CD-ROM is the Top Gear screensaver, from the days when quirky screensavers were new. It essentially just has random cars driving back and forth across the screen, including Jeremy Clarkson on motorcycle, and when the cars hit random hedgehogs crossing the road there’s a little bit of blood spatter and a fart sound. It’s about as wonderfully immature as you can imagine a Jeremy Clarkson screensaver 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 chilling these days.
As someone who grew up with these types of CD-ROMs, this video was a welcome splash of nostalgia on a warm Sunday afternoon. There’s very little from the ’90s that I would want back, especially not my awful bowl cut and jeans, but remembering what cars were like in my younger days makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
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