I witnessed the initial wave of excitement over The Settlers of Catan back in 1995, but dismissed it as a passing fad. It seemed to me that the excitement over collectible card games led by Magic: The Gathering that was reaching its initial peak in 1995 was the bigger deal.
Time has proven that collectible games were, for the most part, a dead end. Aside from Magic: The Gathering and a handful of other collectible-type games, the genre didn't prove to be a lasting success. The collectible game genre has more shipwrecks than the Bermuda Triangle.
In the meantime Settlers of Catan has spawned a couple dozen expansions, been mainstreamed to the point of appearing in mass market outlets and inspired a whole host of other "euro" games.
And I took part in none of it. Well, I went ahead and traded away my copy of Carcassone: The City (a handsome game I've never been able to get on the table) for a copy of Settlers which I know will hit the table as I already have opponents lined up. Better late than never, I suppose.