"Harry Potter," as everyone knows, has been more than just a series of books and the accompanying film adaptations. It's been a cultural phenomenon, on par with "Star Wars," "The Lord of The Rings," and Christianity. With that in mind, it's easy to think that everyone's favorite boy wizard has been around forever. But he hasn't - the first "Potter" novel was released in 1997. Here are five things that didn't exist back then, just as food for thought.

Reality TV Sure, there were shows like "COPS" or "The Real World" that people sometimes refer to as "reality TV," but that's a retrospective designation. Before the popularity of shows like "Survivor" and "Big Brother," the vast majority of TV shows had actors, scripts, and a basic level of dignity that's become completely alien in the years since "Harry Potter" began. Thank God.

"The Matrix" Everyone's familiar with Keanu Reeves running around through generic cityscapes while dressed in shiny black leather, but in the pre-Potter era, he was primarily known as either Bill or Ted, or maybe the guy in "Speed." Crazy, right? Like Harry Potter, though, Keanu managed to rise up through difficult circumstances to achieve the status of "the chosen one."

Non-White Presidents It seems crazy to imagine it now, but there was a time not so long ago where every American president in history was a white guy. Nuts, right? Perhaps in some small way, we have Harry Potter to thank for proud results of Election '08, when America cast aside its decades of racial prejudice and voted for a black guy in an overwhelming majority. Next step: America's first wizard president.

Successful Movies With More Than One Superhero In Them Harry Potter didn't quite beat the superhero movie altogether, but it was only the big solo acts that were around circa-1997: Batman, Superman, etc. Since "Harry Potter," audiences have grown MUCH more accepting of long-underwear types on the big screen, with films like "X-Men," "Watchmen," and the upcoming "The Avengers" proving that they might even be able to stomach more than one of them at once. Now THAT'S progress.

"American Idol" Another massive trend in TV to come about since "Harry Potter" is the televised singing competition. Before "American Idol," Americans mostly trusted record executives and DJs to decide who was worth listening to. Now, they get to vote on the dozen-or-so finalists as chosen by record executives, and, uh, Paula Abdul. The spread of democracy brings a tear to one's eye, no?