The Technology 90s
The 1990s saw technology miniaturised to the point where you could carry it in your pocket. Computers became do-it-all hubs, video games got 3D graphics, and digital organisers like the Palm Pilot were commonplace.
Kids tried to be tech-savvy by using electronic diaries, but those candy-coloured clamshells were ultimately useless. Meanwhile, a video camera that cost $2,500 in 1997 now costs a fraction of that price.
Few inventions have shaped modern communication more than the cell phone. The first cell phones were bulky, B&W devices with limited functionality. But the ’90s saw an explosion of innovation, allowing us to stay connected wherever we were.
Motorola and Nokia became leaders in the cell phone world, with Motorola releasing its Motorola Timeport, which was the first cell phone to work globally. Nokia also introduced the 1011, which was the first mass-produced GSM (2G) phone to support text messaging.
Cell phones were becoming more popular in the ’90s, with people clipping on cases to change their phone’s appearance and adding ringtones and games like Snake. This made them more than just a way to communicate, and allowed them to become fashion accessories in themselves.
The ’90s were the decade that brought us the Palm Pilot, which allowed users to organize their Very Important Business Things on a small handheld device with a fancy stylus. But the candy-colored clamshell gadgets soon proved to be a bust and most of us went back to writing things down in our day planners.
The 1990s was an incredible decade for computer advancements. Microprocessors became more advanced, which allowed computers to run much faster and better than ever before. This meant that businesses could get work done at a much faster rate, and people were able to enjoy games and graphics applications that were simply not possible with older technology.
Desktop computers, also known as PCs, are personal computers that are designed to be used at a desk, in contrast to large mainframe computers and portable computers such as laptops. Typical desktop computers have a tower case that sits horizontally on the floor or under the desk and connects to a monitor via cables. The case houses the power supply, motherboard (a printed circuit board with a microprocessor as the central processing unit, memory, bus, certain peripherals and more), disk storage (usually one or more hard disk drives, solid state drives and/or optical disc drives, and in early models, floppy disk drives), keyboard and mouse for input, and speakers and a printer for output.
In the technology 90s, the Internet becomes widely used, with a number of services developed on top of it. It enables various computer networks around the world to interconnect, revolutionising communications and media.
Before the Internet, computers were large and expensive machines only used by military scientists and university staff. In the technology 90s, computers became smaller and more affordable. They also became more powerful, allowing them to perform many functions that had previously required separate devices.
The internet uses physical copper or optical fibre data transmission cables to connect computers. Client computers connect to the Internet via an ISP, and servers communicate with web browsers using the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). The DNS system translates text-based domain names into number-based IP addresses.
Mobile phones were also a huge technology innovation in the 1990s. They were once the size of bricks, and they now fit in your pocket! They are so small and powerful that they can do everything from play music to send texts.
Search engines are computer programs that can find specific information on the World Wide Web. They use a database of documents that contain keywords to return results when someone enters a query.
The first search engine was called Archie, created in 1990. It indexed public FTP servers and allowed users to search file names. It was followed by Veronica in 1993 and Jughead, which resembled Archie but searched one server at a time.
These early search engines used a philosophy known as TF-IDF, which looked at frequency and location of words in a document to rank the relevance of a search. Today, most search engines are based on similar methods.
1996 saw the creation of BackRub, which may have been the first to use links and citations to rank search results. Today, Google is the most widely used search engine. However, other options like Startpage allow you to search the Internet without a price tracker or third parties building your personal data profile.