Just like the decades that went before, the 90s and 00s were eras of innovation. The developments that occurred in the technology sector shaped our world for generations to come.
During the 90s, the VHS was at the height of its popularity. There were no quick access menus for fast instant play. You had to rewind the tape and wait – if not kindly left at the start by its previous viewer. This could take minutes, so best close your eyes or walk away for fear of seeing the movie playing backwards. If your VCR had not been visited by a cleaning tape in a while you may have had to face your rental getting munched by the player, and a nice hefty fine for its replacement.
Then DVDs finally arrived much to our amazement. Toshiba released the first DVD player in 1996. Enter menus, instant play, and Dolby Digital Sound capability. Blockbusters then bought over Extra-Vision in Ireland in that very same year and their stores popped up everywhere. The excitement when you were handed some money and allowed to pop into your nearest store was palpable. Maybe splash out and rent two movies over a 2-or 3-night period. Portable DVD players then came in and became mainstream by the early ‘00s.
It didn’t take long until Sony introduced Blu-ray players and Blu-ray discs in the year 2000. It was around the mid ‘00s when they really took off when more affordable. These kept rental stores in the game for a bit longer and we were blown away by how real the movie looked! Soon, everyone wanted to trade in their DVD players for Blu-ray ones. Next thing, everyone was out purchasing home cinema surround speaker systems and large screen tellies. It was now all about creating that home cinema theatre experience.
It was a similar transition for sound as it was for vision. We moved from cassette tapes to CDs in or around the same time. The Disc-Man replaced your average tape Walkman and this newfound ability to select your favourite track and play it instantly was extraordinary. CD burners swiftly followed, and our home-made mixtapes were replaced by mix CDs.
The first MP3 player came out in 1997 but was overlooked in the beginning. After years of transporting your bulky cassette tapes and CDs around with you everywhere, you were now able to have thousands of your favourite songs with you in the one place. However, people had spent years and a lot of money in building up their music collections in physical form and were not prepared to simply stop using them.
It was really by 2004 that MP3 music file technology took off when Apple released the first iPod Mini. This was an iconic Apple moment in terms of future tech. These players were cute, tiny and easy to use from the get-go. Every single kid and adult wanted one and they came in an array of colours. These became embedded in the heart of Millennials everywhere. It was Apple’s iPods that set the table for the iPhone and advancement of smart phone technology.
The 00’s became the decade for the eradication of cumbersome technology. Thanks to the development of smart devices and apps, we now rely on the likes of Spotify playlists for music, and streaming platforms such as YouTube and Netflix for viewing pleasure.
You can’t help but wonder, what’s next?
By Jennifer Larke