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Ah, the ’90s! An era of baggy jeans and portable CD players, when cell phones were still mostly a mystery. What a time to be alive! If you grew up in the last decade of the 20th Century, there’s no question that those years hold a special place in your heart. From pop culture to tech, there were several defining moments that paved the way to life as we know it today. Do you remember where you where when everything changed?
5. Welcome To The Web
The foundation of the Internet was actually developed by American scientists in the 1960s during the Cold War. It was called ARPAnet. The “World Wide Web” didn’t come along until 1991, and by 1992 some kids from the University of Illinois developed a ground-breaking browser that would become Netscape. Later that year Congress turned the Internet commercial and it wasn’t long before kids were wasting time on killbarney.com and a new tool called “email” was lit up inboxes across the country. The Internet also made certain risqué images readily available. Yes, all the Amish boys in class were huddled around that corner monitor for a reason, Mrs. Dotson.
4. The Dream Team
Following an embarrassing showing in the Olympics, USA basketball and the NBA decided to allow pros to enter the big stage for the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. And if you remember ’90s basketball, it was the golden era for the NBA. Jordan, Bird, Magic, Malone, Stockton, The Admiral, Drexler, Pippen, Ewing, Mullin, Barkley, and a kid from Duke went on to dominate the rest of the world en route to the gold medal, winning their games by an average of 43.8 points. You likely remember this team being on everything McDonald’s-related for an entire year. This team not only made players like Jordan worldwide celebrities but popularized the game exponentially for the rest of the world. The Dream Team is the biggest reason the NBA has more international players than ever before.
More pop culture flashbacks: ’90s Music Videos That Explain Why We’re Like This Now
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“Hey mom! Pick a song! Any song! What do you want to hear? I’ll find it. Download it. And we can listen to it right now!” That’s how it went for a lot of teens circa 1999 after discovering the first peer-to-peer file-sharing network created by Sean Parker. By allowing anyone to upload and “share” their music, users could download just about any song they wanted for free in a matter of minutes. Although court rulings eventually shut the network down, including most of the copycats that later emerged, the music industry never fully recovered. Napster is the reason most musical artists are now thousand-aires instead of millionaires. And it’s the reason we know what the hell an MP3 is.
2. The Home Run Chase Of 1998
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The year 1994 was the first year in Major League Baseball history that didn’t see a World Series due to a strike. The sport lost countless fans. With attendance and revenue on the decline, it took a historical event between two rivals to get baseball lovers back to the ballpark. The summer of 1998 brought Sammy Sosa (of the Cubs) head to head against Mark McGwire (of the Cardinals) as they raced towards Roger Maris’ famous record for the most home runs in a season (61). McGwire made history first on September 8, 1998 with his 62nd home run of the season.
McGwire would finish the season with a ridiculous 70 home runs. Sosa would finish with 66. It took performance-enhancing drugs and a complicit MLB to make it all happen, but along with the string of Yankees World Series championships in the late ’90s, it’s the reason baseball became one of America’s greatest pastimes again.
Give These Films Some Love: The Most Underrated Movies of the ’90s
Photo: Robyn Beck (Getty Images)
Remember when the world was surely going to end, not because of a zombie apocalypse, nuclear war, or climate change, but a bug? Nothing was bloviated across newscasts more in 1999 than Y2K, the world-wide computer flaw that was supposed to shut down the world when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2000. Supposedly when engineers developed code for computer programs in the 1960s they used two digits for the year, so when 99 moved to 00, systems were supposed to glitch out. Cue full-blown panic. People pulled their money out of banks, governments spent millions to prepare for disaster, families holed up in bunkers, and teen boys made out with their teen girlfriends. Complete pandemonium…until nothing happened.
Now as we prepare to roll into the 2020s, what can we expect? Flying cars? The end of world hunger? Stylish Crocs? The possibilities are endless…