12 Most Influential Technology Inventions of the ’90s

technology in the 90s

What do you know of the ’90s? Were you a kid then, or did you not even exist? Either way, this decade was the bomb. It brought a massive change in the way people lived, worked, and played. The ’90s is the time when people discovered a massive amount of knowledge at the tips of their fingers. So, what’s a better way to spend your time today than learning about 12 incredible ’90s technology inventions?

12 ‘90s Tech Inventions That Changed Our Lives

Now, let’s get on with this piece on technology in the ’90s. This was an excellent decade, in more ways than one, as you’re about to find out.

90's tech

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Text Messaging

Too young to remember what things were like pre-smartphones? Probably, but who knows? Life was different back then – very different. People didn’t use their phones to surf the web. Instead, mobile phones were handy communication devices, limited to calling and messaging.

People used to send short notes through the Short Message Service (SMS). The service began in 1992, with the first-ever “Merry Christmas” message sent by Neil Papworth. After that, we saw communication move from voice calls to SMS. Because of the 160-character limit, the messages had to be creative yet concise. Texting became an art form, with emoticons expressing smiles, sad faces, winks, and more.

Sony PlayStation

Gamers would be very interested in this section. The gaming landscape changed forever in the early ’90s. This was when Sony decided to dabble in video games. The company launched the original PlayStation in 1994. It was sleek and cutting-edge. Yes, the fans went wild.

Immersive gaming took on a new form, and the console became a gateway for epic quests. Sony understood that it had a golden egg in its hands. So, what did it do? It smartly built up its library of games and focused on powerful hardware for a top-notch gaming experience.

90's tech

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Today, you probably have a Netflix account and consume movies and TV shows that way. Before that, you may have depended on cable TV networks, watching whatever was playing at the time. Simultaneously, you could have watched movies on DVDs.

The DVD is a product of a collaboration between Sony, Philips, and Toshiba. In 1997, DVDs and players hit the market. DVDs were round discs containing slips and interactive features (unlike VCDs, the predecessor). DVDs offered better-quality video because of their higher capacity.

You won’t see them around much today. Who has space in their home anyway? Now, the world is all about streaming.


Larry Page and Sergey Brin were convinced that relevance in search results was key. They were right and used their perception to create Google. This search engine was going to change the world.

Google’s popularity soared pretty much upon its launch. Today, we use it countless times daily to find out how to cook chicken curry, the meaning of the word “superfluous,” and the time in Timbuktu.

MP3 Player

“Hey, Mister DJ, put a record on. I wanna dance with my baby.” That’s a line from Madonna’s song, Music. If you wanted to listen to that track now, you’d probably load it on Spotify or YouTube Music. Hold up. What if you wanted that song as a file?

MP3 files were zooming across the internet before people streamed music. And they wanted a portable device that enabled them to listen to music wherever they were. So, in 1998, Eiger Labs made the world’s first MP3 player.

90s technology

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Nokia 1011

Many of us carry a trusty device in our pockets at all times. The smartphone of today is a big jump from the first mass-produced GSM mobile phone. The Nokia 1011 shouldn’t be pooh-poohed, though. Launched in 1992, it was sturdy and enchanting despite featuring a monochromatic display. It had an antenna, without which signals wouldn’t transmit.

Toyota Prius

The first mass-produced hybrid car was the Toyota Prius, launched in 1997. This was a time when environmental concerns were growing. People thought, “If I could save the planet with sustainable transportation, why not?”

And so, this car became a symbol. Its sleek and unassuming design made it a crowd favorite, notably amongst women. Today, people are still happily buying the Prius.

technology in the 90s

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We have Linus Torvalds to thank for Linux, an open-source operating system that debuted in 1991. Today, Linux is still going strong. Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Netflix are only a few examples of companies using the operating system. Developers, users, and advocates of open collaboration are the reasons for its resilience. The system’s code constantly experiences updates, which are contributed by these folks.

Pentium Processor

1993 was the year that marked the introduction of a powerful computer processor called Pentium. It revolutionized personal computing, and performance leaped into a new era.

If you’re in your 40s, like me, you’ve probably used a Pentium-run computer once in your life. When it first launched, it was groundbreaking. It underwent many evolutions, each bringing faster speed and more efficiency to how computers ran.

Today, the Intel processor of choice comes from the Core series. They simply offer more power. However, we have Pentiums to thank for bringing the masses into the digital age in the ’90s.

90s technology

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Dabbled in the field of programming? If so, you’d have heard of Java, a powerful programming language developed in the 1990s.

Before Java, programmers faced many challenges trying to make their applications fit multiple device types and platforms. They needed a robust, portable language. Java was the answer. Executed by the Java Virtual Machine, Java code could run on any compatible device. Because it was so versatile, the programming language became a hot favorite among developers.

Today, Java is still the powerhouse it was. It evolves and adapts according to modern needs and standards. Minecraft is the result of Java code. Are you surprised?

technology in the 90s

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Hubble Telescope

My compilation of ’90s tech inventions wouldn’t be complete without a note on the Hubble telescope. Humans have always wondered about space. What’s out there? Are we alone? What are all these blinking lights we see in the night sky? All these questions have led to the race to the moon and more.

One crucial invention in our study of the cosmos is the Hubble telescope, which was launched in 1990. With it, humans could observe objects in space in clearer detail. Today, Hubble is still in space, contributing to astronomical research. The images produced by this telescope are the main reason many children grow up wanting to be astronauts and work for NASA.

Where Would We Be Today Without These Inventions?

I’d be the first person to admit that the world would be an extremely dull place had these things not come about. We’re so lucky. Just imagine, if things have changed so much since the ’90s, can you imagine how they would be in the next 30 years? I’m thrilled to find out.

Caitlin Mueller, an avid writer, embraces the vibrant tapestry of life. With a curious eye, she delves into the intricacies of everyday existence, immersing herself in the bustling world that surrounds her.