We may group the 90s together as one point in time today, but the reality is that it was a whole decade that’s still making its influence known. There were several events during this time, especially when it came to the advancements in the IT sector. We saw the rise of the internet, the introduction of CDs, and several other aspects of modern life that we take for granted now.
The ’90s were the most exciting time in the history of pop culture. Other than technology, the fields of music, fashion, television, and cinema were also seeing major developments in the 90s. While this might be true of any decade, the 90s was a major turning point for most sectors of pop culture. Discussing everything that’s happened in each year within this decade can get confusing, so let’s have a look at a timeline to understand what went on back then:
This year saw the increased availability of toys with their own computer gaming systems, with improving graphics as well as enhanced gaming capabilities. The Sci/Fi Channel on cable television also started its transmission, while the popular TV show, “Twin Peaks’ also premiered on the ABC channel. One of the major pop culture scandals of this year was that the Milli Vanilli duo was reported to be lip-synching the songs that won them a Grammy award.
Popular movies in this year included some classic and memorable ones such as Pretty Woman, Home Alone, Total Recall, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Edward Scissorhands, etc. At the time, the top musicians included Aerosmith, Whitney Houston, Cher, Billy Joel, Janet Jackson, Jon Bon Jovi, Depeche Mode, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc. Many of the movies and musical personalities would lead to people embracing some funny and unique fads in the 90s.
Fans of the band Queen will remember this year for the tragic death of Freddie Mercury. He was a casualty of the HIV virus, which was on the rise during this decade.
On a more positive note, this was also the year when the internet was finally available for unrestricted commercial use, with the number of computers online exceeding one million.
For the world of music, this was the year that gave us a major turning point with Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’. This was the harbinger of the grunge culture that eventually took over the 90s music scene until the middle of the decade.
This was a golden ear for cinema enthusiasts as well, with memorable offerings like Beauty and the Beast, Thelma and Louise, The Silence of the Lambs, Terminator 2, Hook, and The Addams Family being released. Classic musical hits like Michael Jackson’s ‘Black and White’ and Bryan Adams ‘Everything I do’ also coming out this year.
This year was Microsoft Works released for the first time, along with Windows 3.1. There was also some hype about a recorded telephone conversion that was apparently Diana, Princess of Wales, complaining to an unnamed man about her unsatisfactory marriage.
Popular films for this year included enjoyable works such as Home Alone 2, Aladdin, Sister Act, Wayne’s World, and Honey, I Blew Up the Kid. The top musicians were Nirvana, U2, The Cure, Kiss, Bon Jovi, etc. As for the televisions offering, the best ones included L.A Law, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Crystal Maze, etc.
1993 was when Intel introduced the Pentium microprocessor, while the World Wide Web. On a more somber note, the AIDS virus was terrifying people all over the globe. This was also the year that signaled the beginning of child abuse investigations against Michael Jackson.
Movies from this year included the iconic Jurassic Park, Mrs. Doubtfire, Sleepless in Seattle, Schindler’s List, etc. For popular music, we had Janet Jackson, Radiohead, Madonna, and Aerosmith. There were several popular TV shows on the air at this time, but perhaps the most noticeable moment was the introduction of The X-Files.
This year saw the first-ever satellite digital television service being launched. The market leader for web browsing was Netscape Navigator, while the news was full of Michael Jackson marrying Lisa Marie Presley.
Kurt Cobain committed suicide this year. The top movies included The Shawshank Redemption, the classic The Lion King from Disney, Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Friends ruled pop culture in the 1990s. Friends is a 90s comedy about friendship, dating, and high fashion in a major metropolis. The movie debuted in 1994 and is still well-known and successful two decades later.
The most popular music of this year was by artists such as Sheryl Crow, Sting, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi, and Pearl Jam.
In the musical department, the well-known band The Grateful Dead announced their breakup. Toy Story was released and quickly became quite successful as the first-ever film that was wholly computer-generated.
In 1995, the Spanish dance “Macarena” became a trend. It was popular at clubs, weddings, proms, and other social gatherings, making it a fantastic 90’s pop culture dance.
Movies from this year included Batman Forever, Pocahontas, Jumanji, Casper, etc. Some of the most popular musicians were the ubiquitous Madonna, Garth Brooks, Janet Jackson, and the Smashing Pumpkins.
DVDs were invented this year, but they were mostly in Japan for now. More and more people were using computers, while the Internet Explorer 3 web browser was the latest version so far. People were also in awe about the successful cloning experiments on Dolly the sheep.’ Ask Jeeves’ was the best we had in terms of a search engine.
Fans of pop music will be interested to know that this was when the Spice Girls’ hit musical number ‘Wannabe’ came out. The group’s hit single “Wannabe” reached the top of the charts in 37 nations. Other popular artists included Eric Clapton, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Rage Against the Machine, etc.
The most popular films this year included 101 Dalmatians, The Rock, Jerry Maguire, A Time to Kill, and The English Patient.
This year, the future of tech was sealed when Microsoft emerged as the most valuable company in the world with a value of at least $261 billion. Many were also interested in the passage of the Hale-Bopp comet in April. This comet was visible at night until December 1997.
In other news, The Simpsons became the animated series with the longest run, while the rapper B.I.G was killed in a drive-by shooting. Another exciting tidbit is the publication and release of the first Harry Potter book. The first book in what would become all-time best-selling series. With the first novel selling a phenomenal 120 million copies, it’s no wonder that it would be made into a movie. In 2001, Danielle Radcliff, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint were cast as the stars in the film series.
Popular films for this year included the groundbreaking Titanic, Tomorrow Never Dies, Liar Liar, My Best Friend’s Wedding, etc. The Titanic was the most successful film of the twentieth century, earning $1.8 billion till 2010. It received the Oscar Award for Best Film in 1997. At a budget of $200 million, it was also the most expensive picture filmed at the time.
This was the iconic year when Google was founded, setting the base for how many people use the internet today. Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin as a search engine for Stanford’s website (with the domain google.stanford.edu). The garage of founders’ friend Susan Wojcicki in Menlo Park, California, saw the birth of what would become a global powerhouse.
The World Cup opened in France, viewed by a hundred thousand people live and by three billion on television.
In popular films, we had well-known names like There’s Something About Mary, Saving Private Ryan, Godzilla, Armageddon, The Mask of Zorro, Shakespeare in Love, Mulan, The Avengers, and many more. The music that was ‘in’ those days included the works of Madonna, Celine Dion, Metallica, Green Day, The Spice Girls, Shania Twain, etc. Popular television series included Frasier, Friends, The Nanny, ER, and several others.
In late 1998, the first MP3 player was developed. Despite its simplicity, it aided in considerably better and simpler access to music through the internal storage. The first model contained 32mb of basic memory that could be expanded to 64mb.
Internet Explorer version 5 was released this year, while the Melissa email virus infected over 1 million computers around the globe. This resulted in $80 million worth of damage. With the threat of viruses, the issue of the potential Y2K problem or the millennium bug also started spreading fear through the masses. Other technological plus pop culture milestones included the release of Napster and MySpace.
Beanie Babies ended this year, with a final release of a tiny black bear named ‘The End’. In the movies, the top names included Toy Story 2, The Matrix, Tarzan, The Mummy, The Sixth Sense, The Phantom Menace, American Beauty, and American Pie along with many others.
The popular music of the time was made by artists such as Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, The Backstreet Boys, the Foo Fighters, etc. The top TV shows included 7th Heaven, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, The X-Files, Frasier, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Of course, there were several other events that went on in each year of the 1990s, but we’ve tried to cover some of the most important and/or influential ones. Looking back on these events can make us quite nostalgic. If we want to revisit the 90s and recapture its magic, watching some memorable movies from that era might be in order.