A history and overview of the observed properties of gamma-ray bursts are presented. The phenomenon of gamma-ray bursts is without precedent in astronomy, having no observed property that would be a direct indicator of their distance and no counterpart object in another wavelength region. Their brief, random appearance only in the gamma-ray region has made their study difficult. The observed time profiles, spectral properties, and durations of gamma-ray bursts cover a wide range. All proposed models for their origin must be considered speculative. It is humbling to think that even after 25 years since their discovery, the distance scale of gamma-ray bursts is still very much debatable.