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A Circuitous Route Through 1995

It's the Spring of 1995. Try as you might, you can't get the ear-worm of Montell Jordan's This Is How We Do It out of your head. Drew Barrymore is about to flash David Letterman on the Late Show. 

Microsoft, as part of their never ending, never quite getting there quest to be cool, is shelling out $3 million bucks to launch Windows 95 with Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones. (It's only later discovered that the operating system's clock was set to 1965. It happens.)

And if you were planning your next trip on the trails, you're reaching for a jewel case with your CD-ROM trail map software.

Joking (not joking) aside, 1995 really was a massively pivotal year in tech and culture.

W. Joseph Campbell's 2015 book 1995: The Year the Future Began discusses this in excruciating, but fascinating detail. He does not, however, cite Arc'Teryx reaching for new heights in the backpacking world with its first seven pack range. Nor does it cover how Madden disrupted the viciously competitive child carrier market by debuting the Caravan, the biggest, baddest, and first truly backcountry capable kid carrier.

So what does any of this have to do with SNEWS praising Burton's use of a CD to distribute product photos? Nothing, really. But their wish that 'more companies would get hip to this way of showing off their goods' is an unsubtle poke at an industry who, on their best day, would still have to queue with the Luddites in the granola line. By 1995, CD-ROMs were already becoming the center of our software lives.

A stop along the way before browsers, wireless, and GPS became the norm.

These maps were created by scanning and converting traditional paper maps into digital formats and then using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to organize and layer the data. Data like topographical features, trail routes, and points of interest.

Warning: will not work in your 1998 Toyota Tercel's in-dash CD player.

Users could zoom in for detailed views, customize routes, and even print specific map sections.

The future! While a step-up from your standard Thomas Guide (look it up), USGS, or Trails Illustrated maps,

CD-ROMs lacked the real-time GPS tracking and updates that are standard in today's EVERYTHING. Players like DeLorme, National Geographic, and Map Tech were all leaders during this time of rapid change in how we plan our expeditions, and cartography in general.

I tried mightily to find a copy of the Burton product CD, or any CD-ROM from an outdoor brand in 1995, but alas came up empty. I did spy rumors that Land's End had a CD-ROM catalog, and that the North Face Trailhead was a thing, although I could not find confirmation of either.

Uh, Warren? Walt Disney would like a word about that font.

That said, leave it to Warren Miller to be ahead of the curve. Warren Miller's Ski World Guide to Skiing blended entertainment and instruction with map and planning functionality. Look out for that hot ski trivia!

You can find an unopened copy on eBay here.

Warren’s got game for sure, but he’s no match for The Beastie Boys' Don't Mosh in the Ramen Shop. A pretty groundbreaking interactive 360° tour of their studio, merch store, a mishmash of crazy crap and footage, and an original version of Intergalactic. We would one day call this a dope website. Here it is in all its glory.

Lastly, it’s not a CD-ROM, but on your left and according to this is an 1995 ‘print ad’. Downloaded onto actual paper, this code was the foundation of pre-internet websites know as magazines


The Life And Times Of Outdoor History, by Rock Fight Contributor David Karstad is made possible by the fine folks at the Utah State University Outdoor Recreation Archive.


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