Two paperback techno-gems from the 1990s

A bookstore here in Bangkok was having a going out of business sale a few months back, and I picked up a couple of titles that appealed to both the bibliophile and the Internet enthusiast in me.

The first is this:

I saw this slim, young adult paperback volume from 1996 and I knew I had to have it. The title is “Internet Detectives volume 2: Escape Key.” Subtitle: “Enter a new dimension of adventure!” On the cover, the title reads “iNTERNET detectives,” with camel case. The book is on Amazon.com here. Here’s the back cover.

The copy reads:

The man’s face stared out at them from the computer screen. ‘It is him!’ exclaimed Rob.

The photograph, flashed instantly from Australia via the Internet, sends Rob, Tamsyn, and Josh on a thrilling hunt for a man wanted by the police on two continents. They’ve seen him once already, but they’ve no idea where he is now. With the help of brilliant detective work by their friends on the Net, they start to track down their mysterious suspect…

And here’s an interior page — I like the mock-ups of the email messages:

Volume 1 of the series is “Net Bandits,” and later volumes include “Speed Surf,” “Cyber Feud,” “System Crash,” “Web Trap,” “Virus Attack,” and “Access Denied.”

The book’s references to the Web and email may seem quaint now, but consider that the book was published in 1996 — a time when many of us were just beginning to discover the tubenet. After all, this is what Yahoo.com looked like in 1996, and Google wouldn’t launch for another two years.

The next book is all about a world catastrophe…that didn’t happen. I speak, of course, of the Year 2000 problem, otherwise known as Y2K:

The book is called “50 Urgent Things You Need to do Before the Millennium.” Subtitle: “Protect yourself, your family, and your finances from the upcoming computer crisis!” The book was published, naturally, in 1999. It’s on Amazon here.

I’d forgotten just how that concerned many people were about Y2K. ((Okay, not everyone was worried about Y2K. In Weird Al Yankovic’s classic techno-anthem “All about the Pentiums,” he boasts about his PC proficiency: “Upgrade my system at least twice a day, I’m strictly plug-and-play, I ain’t afraid of Y2K.”)) Check out the back cover copy:

Are you prepared for the biggest crisis ever to threaten modern civilization? The Y2K computer crisis, the inability of computers to recognize the two-digit year “00,” is about to affect every aspect of our lives.

Some of the doomsday scenarios envisioned include “There’s no electricity, water, or telephone service” and “Airplanes can’t fly, traffic lights don’t work, and cars with computer systems can’t be operated.”

1996 and 1999.

Seems like yesterday.