Aside from Hong Kong's handover, here are 20 things the world experienced in 1997

By YP cadet Shum Long-hin

The 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover is drawing near, but it's not the only thing celebrating a two-decade anniversary this year

By YP cadet Shum Long-hin |

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In films

Has it been 20 years already?! 1997 saw the releases of:

1. Titanic. Jack could have fit on that door, Rose. Just saying!

2. Men In Black gave Ray-Ban sunglasses a whole new purpose: not only to make you look cool, they also protected you from memory-erasing rays.

Robin Williams had a mixed year in 1997.  While he was universally praised for 3. Good Will Hunting, the vehicle that launched both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s careers, Williams also appeared in 4. Flubber, which ... well, it didn't launch anyone's career.

Disney released 5. Hercules, one of the most underrated Disney animations of all time. (Hello?! Go the Distance? The Gospel Truth??)

And Jim Carrey comedy 6. Liar Liar saw a compulsive liar not being able to lie by the magic of his son's birthday wish; to hilarious results.

7. Oh, Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin was also hilarious … but in a it's-so-bad-it’s-funny kind of way.

In music

These two iconic albums debuted 20 years ago, but you can bet people are still listening to them today:

8. OK Computer by Radiohead was released in May, and its recording was funded by almost two years of non-stop touring.

9. Homework by Daft Punk was released earlier, in January, but at the time they didn’t have their signature robot helmets yet. This iconic accessory wasn't unveiled until 2001.

Photo: AP

In literature

10. Harry Potter! In 1990, while sitting on a delayed train going to King’s Cross station in London, J.K. Rowling came up with the idea for the insanely popular novels, and then planned out the books by hand. The first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was published on June 26, 1997.

11. One Piece, the best selling Japanese comic series with over 320 million copies sold so far, also celebrates its 20th birthday this year. And, yes, One Piece counts as literature.

In technology

How many of you own at least one Apple product? 12. Products that likely would never have been created had Steve Jobs not returned to the company he'd founded, and was fired from in 1985, in 1997. He then set forward his vision for the company and changed the computing world forever. Thanks, Steve.

Photo: Reuters

Other technological advances include 13. DVDs (digital video discs), which were made available in the US in 1997 after their debut in Japan a year earlier.

14. Netflix was launched, originally as a DVD rental service that physically mailed DVDs straight to your doorstep. Literally mailed.

In People and Celebrities

American artistic gymnast and gold medal winner of the 2016 Olympics’ vault and floor event 15. Simone Biles, born in 1997, celebrated her 20th this year on March 14. Not only is she an incredible gymnast with gravity-defying performances, she's also a fantastic role model for young people, and young girls in particular, with her humility, confidence, and spot-on sass.

Children and women’s rights activist 16. Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and will turn 20 on July 12.

1997 also saw the loss of many great individuals, and two that hit the public the hardest on a global scale were 17. Diana, Princess of Wales. Affectionately known as "the people's princess" after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996, she died in a tragic car accident in Paris on August 31, 1997. She leaves behind a legacy of kindness and compassion personified in her surviving sons, Princes William and Harry.


The world also mourned the loss of 18. Mother Teresa, who was born in the then Ottoman Empire in 1910, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her tireless efforts in various charities. Though a controversial figure in life and death, many shed a tear when Mother Teresa passed away on September 5, 1997.

In Science and Discovery

On July 4, 1997 the 19. NASA spacecraft Pathfinder probe landed on Mars, and began its mission to analyse the Martian environment.

Finally, 20. hybrid vehicles made their commercial debut in 1997, led by the Toyota Prius in Japan. Two decades later and we're still working towards making environmentally friendly vehicles a standard!