25 things that you probably forgot happened 25 years ago, back in 1996

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25 things that you probably forgot happened 25 years ago, back in 1996

The fantastic duo, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day.

We take a trip back to 1996... Has it really been that long?

Even though it feels like yesterday, it’s been 25 years since:

Crowded House: Farewell to the World

“Thanks for having us, Sydney, and everywhere else that’s watching… looking on. It’s been a blast” – Neil Finn

On November 24, 1996, Crowded House performed (what was then) their final show. Starting with ‘Mean to Me’ and finishing, appropriately, with ‘Don’t Dream it’s Over’, more than 100,000 people embraced the love on the steps of the Sydney Opera House.

A doco worth the Hype!

We were the guys in high school that people used to beat up, and we couldn’t talk to the pretty girls … We’re nerds, goddammit! – Van Conner. Directed by Doug Pray and produced by Steve Helvey, Hype! focuses on what was happening in Seattle between 1987 and 1991, when nerds ruled the music world and record scouts were coming from far and wide to discover the next big thing.

The Spice Girls take over the world

Girl power hits overdrive.

Their debut single, ‘Wannabe’, was a number one in 37 countries. Their debut album, Spice, has sold 23 million copies. Many had one they wanted to be – Ginger, Posh, Baby, Sporty or Scary. The Spice Girls were huge, and 1996 belonged to them.

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Independence Day

Let’s kick the tires and light the fires, big daddy.

On July 3, 1996, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum saved the world from alien invasion. A turning point for Hollywood blockbusters, Independence Day was the highest-grossing film of the year and, at the time, the second highest-grossing film behind Jurassic Park.

Everybody Loves Raymond

You can choose your friends…

Speaking to The A.V. Club, Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal pulled the plug on the show because “we ran out of ideas”. Debuting in September of ’96, the beloved family feud show enjoyed 210 episodes across a nine-season stretch.

Go well, Bradley Nowell

Love is, what I got.

Combining reggae rock and ska punk, Sublime was (and remains) a Long Beach, California favourite. Lead singer and guitarist, Bradley Nowell, would die of a heroin overdose on May 25, 1996. A short time later, the band released their self-titled classic.

Oprah’s Book Club

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read – Groucho Marx
While A Game of Thrones, Angela’s Ashes, Fight Club and The Green Mile were all published in 1996, one of the biggest things in literature to hit the year was Oprah’s Book Club. The first selection was Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean.


Aussie, Aussie, Aussie.

In 1996, Homebake entered the festival craze. While the likes of the Big Day Out was pulling international heavyweights in the early ’90s, Homebake was full of home-grown flavour – with the occasional artist from New Zealand. It was last held in 2012.


You can still be kind, even if you don’t need to rewind.

Towards the end of 1996, Toshiba released the first DVD player – the SD-3000. Among the first titles to be released on the format were A Time to Kill, Blade Runner, Interview with the Vampire, Se7en, The Fugitive, Twister, Unforgiven and The Wizard of Oz.

Nintendo 64

Change the System.

While it didn’t hit Australia until 1997, Japan and North America had first crack at the Nintendo 64 in 1996. The console was launched with Super Mario 64, Pilotwings 64 and Saikyō Habu Shōgi; however, GoldenEye 007 (1997) would come to rule them all.

Two nights with Oasis

Here’s the story:

On August 10 & 11, Oasis, who had released (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? the previous year, performed two shows at Knebworth House to 250,000 people. Some two-and-a-half million people had applied for tickets, while it took a team of 3000 to stage the concerts.

Melbourne Fashion Festival

And they do their little turn on the catwalk.

When slip dresses, chokers and chunky sneakers ruled the world, the Melbourne Fashion Festival was there for the people. When the fashion world was invite-only, the MFF was created for the everyday fashion follower.

Michael Jackson makes HIStory

The King of Pop.
With stops in 57 cities, 35 countries on five continents, the HIStory World Tour was the third and final solo tour by Michael Jackson. An estimated 4.5 million fans attended more than 80 concerts, slightly eclipsing the figures for his Bad World Tour.

Tickle Me Elmo

A furry friend for life.
You were the greatest parent the world has ever known if you managed to get your hands on a Tickle Me Elmo. People Magazine reported that scalpers were re-selling the hot item, which ran at $28.99, for $1500 by the end of the year.

Jim Carrey’s first

The $20,000,000 man
Jim Carrey made history when he became the first actor to earn $20 million for a film. That film was The Cable Guy. Homer Simpson may have felt the film nearly ruined Carrey’s career, but Stephen Hawking was apparently a big fan.

The life of Jennifer Ringley

The world watches on.
On April 3, 1996, then nineteen-year-old Jennifer Kaye Ringley installed a webcam, dubbed JenniCam, in her college dorm room. Ringley would maintain the webcam for seven years. In 2008, CNET hailed JenniCam as one of the greatest defunct websites in history.


…from Bandai.
Move over, the humble goldfish. It’s virtual pet time. Released in Japan in 1996, the Tamagotchi would be released to the rest of the world the following year. At its peak, it is said that 15 Tamagotchis were sold every minute in the US and Canada.


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Tibetan Freedom Concert

Rock and roll meets politics.
Spearheaded by Beastie Boys and featuring The Smashing Pumpkins, Pavement, Sonic Youth, Björk, RAtM, Foo Fighters and RHCP, the Tibetan Freedom Concert was a Live Aid-style concert for Tibet, aimed at generating public awareness about the Tibetan plight.


A different outlook these days.
Founded by Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, Hotmail was launched on July 4 to become one of the first webmail services. By December 1997, it had more than 8.5 million subscribers. It was relaunched as Outlook.com in 2012.


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Tube Man

It’s the wacky, waving, inflatable arm-flailing tube man.
Who knew a long fabric tube with a couple of outlets attached and powered by an electrical fan would become such a popular sales gimmick? Conceived by Peter Minshall, Tube Man was first used for the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Rainbow Connection

Send your requests through now.
In 1994, three men took a radio station hostage and demand they play their demo in the movie Airheads. In 1996, a 21-year-old man took the manager of New Zealand’s Star FM hostage and demand that he play Kermit the Frog’s ‘Rainbow Connection’.


It’s a perfectly cromulent word.
Added to the Meriam-Webster dictionary in 2018, ‘Embiggen’ was first heard in 1996 in The Simpsons’ episode Lisa the Iconoclast. It is taken from Springfield’s motto, ‘A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man’.

Motorola StarTAC

What’s that thing on your belt?
On January 3, 1996, Motorola released the StarTAC, one of the first clamshell (flip) phones. In 2005, PC World would rank it #6 in the Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years. It sold around 60 million units and was introduced at the price of a cool $1000.

Ramones are sedated

Adios Amigos. Ramones. The 2263rd show. Billboard Live. August 6, 1996.
So read the individually numbered, commemorative tickets for the Ramones’ final show. As it turned out, last-minute code enforcements forced the show to be shifted to The Palace, Los Angeles. A live album, We’re Outta Here!, would be released the following year.


They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway.
In ’96, Chicago was revived on Broadway. Today, it holds the record for longest-running musical revival. On November 23, 2014, on its 7486th performance, it became the second longest-running show to run on Broadway, behind only The Phantom of the Opera.


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