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20 years ago, the 'Harry Potter' series made its American debut. Here's what the world was like in 1998
{Mayoritas no.1} - photo by shutterstock

Twenty years ago on Sept. 1, Scholastic released J.K. Rowling's “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the U.S., changing pop culture forever and revolutionizing young adult literature.

To put into perspective how long it’s been since the Chosen One made his American debut, here are 15 facts about what the world was like in 1998.


  • On Sept. 24, 1998, just a few weeks after “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” hit American shelves, the House Judiciary Committee announced they would consider a resolution to begin an impeachment inquiry against then-President Bill Clinton.

  • In 1998, Stanford University Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google LLC. The official date of its incorporation — Sept. 4, 1998 — comes just days after the release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

  • On a similar note, Steve Jobs also unveiled the iMac earlier that year in May 1998. “We think iMac’s going to be a really big deal,” Jobs said when he announced the new personal computer.

  • High-definition television also entered the scene around the same time. According to an article from, HDTV debuted by broadcasting John Glenn’s flight on the space shuttle Discovery in October 1998.

  • Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom opened on April 22, 1998, on Earth Day. According to the Disney Parks Blog, the park is the largest at Walt Disney World Resort, spanning 500 acres.

Pop culture

  • “A Bug’s Life” and “Mulan,” — eight years before Disney bought Pixar — were released on Nov. 25, 1998, and June 19, 1998, respectively.

  • “The Parent Trap,” featuring Lindsay Lohan in the popular remake of the Hayley Mills film about twin girls plotting to get their divorced parents back together, came out on July 29, 1998. Jim Carrey's “The Truman Show” hit theaters earlier that month.

  • Off the heels of the release of the iconic movie “Titanic” in late 1997, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” topped the charts. According to Billboard, “My Heart Will Go On” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

  • Boy bands thrived in 1998 with chart-topping singles like “Tearin’ Up My Heart” by 'NSync and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” by the Backstreet Boys.

  • According to IMDB, several famous television shows aired their first episodes 20 years ago, including “That '70s Show,” “Charmed,” “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” and “The Wild Thornberrys.”

Lifestyle and sports

  • According to Statista, gas cost $1.03 per gallon in 1998, less than half the average price in 2017, $2.42.

  • Turns out, Harry Potter’s been around in the U.S. just as long as the Furby toy, which first sold in 1998, according to Insider.

  • The federal minimum wage, according to the United States Department of Labor, was $5.15 the year “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” was released. That’s a little more than two dollars less than the current federal minimum wage, $7.25.

  • Nintendo released “The Ocarina of Time,” the fifth game in the “Legend of Zelda” video game series, in 1998, Wired reported.

  • The Denver Broncos won their first Super Bowl title in 1998; according to Newsday, the Broncos played in Super Bowl games five times before finally taking home the trophy. Since their 1998 win, the Broncos have won two additional Super Bowl titles.
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