In April the
NSFNET backbone is shut down, making the
Internet a unified and "centerless" network without any restrictions on traffic types and essentially causing the
Dot com bubble by attracting large-scale corporate investment in the Internet.
Some technologies invented and improved during the 1990s:
December 1990 - The World Wide Web and its HTTP protocol and HTML language (a dialect of SGML until HTML5) are first successfully parsed by Tim Berners-Lee and eventually displace the Gopher protocol.
1991 - Development of the free Linux kernel is started by Linus Torvalds in Finland.
1995 - Microsoft introduces Windows 95, which gains immediate popularity and makes Windows the standard operating system for most PCs. Windows 98 is even more successful three years later.
1995 - The Java programming language is developed by Sun Microsystems (now Oracle).
The Year 2000 problem (commonly known as Y2K), the computer glitch disaster expected to happen on January 1, 2000.
The development of web browsers such as Netscape Navigator (originally known as Mosaic) in 1993 and Internet Explorer in 1995 makes surfing the World Wide Web easier and more user friendly.
From 1994 onward, businesses start to build e-commerce websites; e-commerce-only companies such as Amazon.com, eBay, AOL, and Yahoo! grow rapidly.
Email becomes popular; as a result Microsoft acquires the popular Hotmail webmail service.
Instant messaging and the buddy list becomes popular. AIM and ICQ are two early protocols.
Primitive digital cameras become commercially available by 1989/1990 and slowly become more affordable and appealing; mostly replacing traditional film by 2010.
PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) become popular in the mid-1990s with the release of the touchscreen Apple Newton in 1993, although it has a monochrome screen. Later in the late 1990s, the first full-color PDAs are released, but they consume a lot of battery life. These would gradually merge their features with
mobile phones, leading to
smartphones such as the
compact disc, which debuted in the early 1980s but was not affordable until the early 1990s, makes the
vinyl record less popular in most countries for listening to recorded music.
DVDs become available in Japan in 1995 and the US in 1997, making video cassettes obsolete by the late 2000s.
Plasma flat panel televisions become commercially available later in the decade, competing against CRT televisions.
Full color flat panel computer monitors are released commercially to the public in the mid-to-late 1990s
1996 - USB ports are invented, allowing for computing devices to connect more easily. The USB flash drive debuts in December 2000.
Netflix is launched during the
dial-up Internet era, offering DVDs mailed straight to one's home, which the user could select in an online queue. By 2007 it started to offer streaming directly from the Internet, making it a competitor to conventional
1998 - The first portable
MP3 player, the MPMan is released.
Gaming, along with
animation in general becomes more appealing to adults.
Online multiplayer environments are popular over the internet during the later half of the 1990s. The first console with built-in Internet connectivity was the
Dreamcast in 1999, which failed due to the low download speeds common at the time but eventually led to an online-centric gaming industry by the late 2000s.
First-person shooter games become popular with the release of Doom (1993).
3D graphics overtake the traditional 2D graphics in the mid-nineties with the release of Quake and Super Mario 64 in 1996.
PlayStation is released in Japan on December 3, 1994 and in North America in September 1995.
By 1996 64 percent of
K–12 schools in the United States had Internet access and 63 percent of American 12th graders reported using a computer for school work.
^Quittner, Joshua (March 29, 1999).
"Tim Berners Lee — Time 100 People of the Century". Time. Archived from
the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved 17 May 2010. He wove the World Wide Web and created a mass medium for the 21st century. The World Wide Web is Berners-Lee's alone. He designed it. He loosed it on the world. And he more than anyone else has fought to keep it open, nonproprietary and free. .