Yes, there certainly was a "craze". You just missed it because you're weren't living where it happened.
The small notebooks have always been popular in Japan but never really caught on in the US. Americans could only buy them through import sites at twice the price, so mostly we just looked at the pictures, read the specs, and sent letters to the manufacturers begging them to bring those models to the US.
It was fantastic walking around Akihabara, seeing machines that you only saw pop up as brief descriptions in US magazines. Beautiful machines that never made it to the US shores. Nowadays, with the web, it's all to easy to see the pictures and look up specs, but back then, we only had mere glimpses.
So yes, there was a craze. But because the machines were never exported, that craze never made it to the US.