The Technology 90s
Technology 90s were a decade of immense disruption, the axis on which the old world ended and the new one began. It gave us Kurt Cobain, floppy disk video games, and AOL Instant Messenger—and many more life-changing inventions.
The first Palm Pilots, which were essentially the earliest precursor to smartphones and digital assistants like Siri and Alexa, were introduced in 1996.
1. Cell Phones
The 90s saw the development of cellular phone technology. From the brick-sized models of the 80s, phones became smaller, incorporated LCD screens and even had rudimentary web browsing capabilities by the end of the decade.
Cell phones were revolutionary because they allowed people to connect to each other in ways that were previously impossible. If you are interested in learning more about technology and inventions, you may be interested in pursuing a career as an patent attorney.
The ’90s also gave us a variety of fad tech devices that seem silly now, like the TalkBoy and Tamagotchi. The latter is essentially a digital pet that requires attention to survive. It was a popular fad among teens and children in the 1990s, though most of us now realize that raising digital pets is an ineffective way to spend our time.
2. The Internet
When we think of technology that has changed our world (for better or worse) the Internet immediately comes to mind. But, surprisingly, the internet wasn’t as accessible in the 90s as it is today.
Computers were clunky and noisy, and the only way you could chat with your friends online was via AOL Instant Messenger or the cringe-worthy floppy disk video games that made your sound card constantly buzz.
In the 1990s, researchers created the first internet browser and established a system for sharing documents on the Internet. The Internet is now a global network of computers and is used for everything from entertainment to communication to business. It is also a major source of information, with the most popular websites being news sites, search engines and social media.
The compact disc (CD) was originally created in 1982 to store digital audio, but it soon was adapted by the computer industry as a low-cost storage and distribution medium. As computer programs ballooned in size, CD-ROMs became the favored method of software distribution, spawning a flurry of venture-capital funded companies that offered multimedia content on them.
The data on a CD-ROM is read by the same type of optical drive used to play an LP record: a laser beam measures the depth of a series of pits and lands on the surface of the disk, turning them into binary code that your computer can process. The drives were external, and usually had the letter designation D: on your Windows computer list of drive letters.
Throughout the 90s, they were commonly used to distribute software for computers and fifth generation video game consoles. The technology was eventually replaced by DVD.
4. Digital Video Discs (DVDs)
Using optical data storage technology similar to CDs, DVDs use molded pits and reflective areas to represent 1s and 0s that are read by lasers. This technology replaced traditional analog formats and made digital camcorders affordable for consumers.
DVDs can be read in dedicated VCD players, in some DVD-ROM drives and some personal computers with special DVD support. They cannot be read in Blu-ray Disc players, car audio systems with DVD support and most video game consoles.
Some DVDs are read-only, which means that the companies that publish them don’t allow private users to manipulate the information on them. Others, known as DVD-R and DVD-RW, let individuals save data to the discs once, then erase and write new information to them again. These are commonly used for home movies.
5. Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
In the 1990s, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) were popular. These were the earliest precursor to today’s smartphones and they typically include an application suite like a calendar, address book, note pad and calculator. In some cases, they can also function as a game machine or digital still or video camera.
Moreover, they can be used to store audio recordings and photographs and can be connected with broad organization networks for email correspondence and different courier applications. For some people, getting the latest model of a PDA can also be an indication of status and wealth.
Some researchers have even found that using a PDA in clinical practice can improve documentation for procedures such as sedation, thoracentesis and ultrasound. The devices can also be used for a number of other tasks, including drug reference and scheduling.