Good stuff to come out of the 1990’s: Inventions, Trends and New Norms.

The Internet: Sure, it was around long before the 1990’s, but it wasn’t until then that it became open to the general public and not until 1991 did the World Wide Web appear. By the late 90’s much of the public was online and for better or for worse, it’s indisputably changed the way we live.

Desktop Computing: Existed before the 1990s, but mostly just as glorified electronic type-writers. You didn’t see much of this in homes, at least not beyond gaming consoles or text-based home computers featuring low resolution graphics. Apple, Atari and a few others had graphics programs, but it wasn’t until the infamous decade of the 90s that digital photo processing and full color high resolution graphics became an affordable widely available norm. The operating systems and hardware for wired and wireless networking became affordable and available to the masses during this era. MP3’s also appeared during this illustrious era, and along with the Internet, for the first time anyone could send a recording of anything to anyone anywhere in the world, almost instantly. Affordable CD burners were on the market by the late 1990’s and it meant home audio enthusiasts were no longer tied to magnetic tape based systems such as poor quality compact cassettes or bulky and expensive reel-to-reel systems.

DVD’s: Invented firmly in 1995 and took off like a rocket, we were so long overdue for a replacement of VHS tape.

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Electronica: Again, not invented in the 90’s, not even by a long shot. The infamous Theramin has roots going back to the 1920’s. The Hammond Organ appeared about 1935, Moog in 1952, Korg in 1962, Roland in 1972. Instruments like these and others would supplement more conventional instruments and occupy a niche market, often appearing as sound effects in movies. With a few exceptions, much of it was subjectively considered cheesy and didn’t stand on it’s own against conventional instruments. It wasn’t really until the 1990’s when music created mostly if not all by synthesizer and sampler became  widely accepted. Hardware became more affordable and widely available, especially with the advent of advanced computer horsepower. Out of this came a greater degree of refinement and popularity.

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Lasers: Once again, invented pre-1990’s, but it wasn’t until this decade that the mass production of laser diodes made cost and availability a reality for the average person to own laser pointers and laser printers.

The revival of Electric Cars: Hardly a brand-new idea, some of the very first cars were electric. Decades later, the GM EV1 was one of the best electric cars ever made, which is why the Oil Co’s had them all crushed, literally. There’s other good examples from Toyota and Ford, but none of them have been allowed to succeed either. So while large scale production still hasn’t taken off as of 2013, interest in the concept was revived, leading to all-electric cars like the Tesla Roadster.

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Human Genome Project: Started in 1990, completed in 2003, this project has offered a phenomenal insight into the inner workings of genetics.

Hubble Space Telescope: Launched in 1990, never before have we seen so deep into the universe.

Google: Started in 1998, the largest single index of information ever conceived. Will eventually evolve into Skynet, seeking to destroy the very beings that created it in the first place.

GPS: The Global Positioning System was a military-only system that became available to civilians in the 90s.

Better Cars!  Let’s face it, most cars of the 1970’s and 1980’s left a lot to be desired. There were exceptions of course, Toyota, Honda and Nissan were making some decent vehicles and who could resist a 5.0 Mustang. Many were over-weight, under-powered, Fugly and bogged down with emissions devices. It was a turbulent time for manufacturers, often made worse by their own resistance to change. New requirements for lower emissions and better economy resulted in many engine compartments looking like Rube Goldberg devices. Let’s face it, carburetors were difficult to keep running well throughout all seasons and altitudes. The 90’s saw fuel injection, better computer control, disc brakes,  air-bags and generally tighter overall engineering become standard on most vehicles, thereby making it feasible to keep one on the road for a decade or two.

locats: Responsible for an undocumentable quantity of laughs and hours wasted, few can resist photos of cats caught in the act of doing what cats do.

Reportedly the dream on the 90’s is still alive in Portland, where being a professional slacker is still a respected occupation. A place I have yet to visit.

-Kenn Ranous

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