The year is 2000, and I’m 10 years old. I’m mesmerized by the Cybiko. It’s purple, and it has a little antennae and lots of buttons.
It’s the first portable computing device I’ve seen that does more than your average calculator, and it’s made just for me; if only I can get my mother to shell out a hundred dollars. I swear, I ran to KB Toys and walked up and down that aisle, on every trip to the mall, for months, staring at the box.
I don’t remember where I first heard about it, but I do remember my jealousy and disappointment when my childhood friend got it first. Imagine, my own personal computer. Nothing like my sister’s big, boxy Windows desktop, that I’m not even allowed to touch. Because that one is meant for serious work, like that done by college students.
Looking back, the Cybiko was somewhat of a pioneer for CE toys. It had its own two-way radio text-messaging system that could work between several devices, and it featured more than 430 “freeware” games and applications. It also had MP3 capabilities (and it came out a year before the first iPod).
Perhaps the company’s biggest mistake was marketing such a toy-like device to teenagers. With a little better marketing, our Apple of today could have been replaced by a Russian company, and instead of quoting Jobs, we might be preaching Yang.