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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Discovering the web
Computer in 1990
The pre-web age of 1990
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain - featuring your written memories and photos. We've done the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. To finish, it's time for the 90s.

It was the decade of the Gulf War, Britpop, New Labour and the death of Princess Diana.

But for many of you, it is the birth of the worldwide web, the internet and the dotcom boom that you remember most.

When the young British scientist, Tim Berners-Lee, invented the worldwide web, he revolutionised the way we live.

In other ways, technology was leaping ahead. Mobile phones became more advanced and gaming became big business. Here is a selection of your comments.


Christine Hewitt
We were unable to keep up the mortgage payments due to a business failure so we lost our house. Of course we were unable to get council housing because the children were grown up. We were lucky in that someone put us up for sometime whilst we got jobs so that we could rent a house privately. By the mid 1990s we were both working in the IT world and made good money in the dotcom boom years. In fact I saw out my working life due to facility in and experience with the use of computers. The variety of work that was available towards the end of the 90s with the growth of websites and commerce on the internet was absolutely amazing. I travelled around the UK from a base in Cambridgeshire and saw many new places whilst being paid for IT work.
Christine Hewitt, Prudhoe

Karen Packham in 1991
The boom in personal computers and the emergence of the internet have to be among the defining features of the decade, forever changing the way we all live.
Karen Packham in 1997
It was also the decade in which I became a mother and was reminded that there was far more to life than I'd been focussing on in the workaholic 90s.
Karen Packham in 2007
Ultimately the two collided, as PCs and the web let me combine home-working with motherhood.
Karen Packham (from top, in 1991, 1997 and 2006 with daughters), New Malden, UK
Peter Smolenski
By the mid 90s I packed in my job and went off to university at Kingston-upon-Thames. What a brilliant four years I had. First Britpop was out and the UK wanted to party, music was finally cool again. Second I was studying IT just as the internet began to explode. Along with cheaper mobile phones it was definitely the start of the age of communications. We said goodbye to Maggie, Major and the Tories, then welcomed in Tony, New Labour and even the weather improved.
Peter Smolenski, Walton-on-Thames

Start of secondary school, then off to university half way through, discovering the internet (and thinking at first it was a bit rubbish - little did I know), massive acceleration in technology becoming obsolete, first holiday abroad, meeting my future wife, the 90s seemed like a period of great hope for the future. If I had known Blair and Brown planned to price us off the roads, I would have moved to Sydney or Toronto then before it was too late.
Andrew, Dundee then, Wigan now

I was a child in the 1990s and I wouldn't have wanted to grow up in any other time. Although the clothes were hideous (big hair scrunchies and skirts over trousers) it was a relaxed time and I still had a fair amount of freedom as a child. I also remember when my class at school got a computer with the internet, we were amazed!
Katy, Cambridge
The most memorable thing was it took me a few weeks to work out I could check my e-mail on different computers, as long as they are connected to the internet. And also there was the handover of Hong Kong (I was born and lived there for 10 years) in 97 where Britain lost her last major colony.
Kenneth, Taunton (now London), UK

MORE 90s MEMORIES
The first generation of the digital revolution, the 90s children; never surprised by new technology in a world where the sky's the limit. The decade started so free, where we could do what we liked, stay out late and Chomp bars were still 10p! Mystic Meg, Mr Motivator and Mr Blobby, classics of my childhood. By the time the 90s drew to a close all this had changed. Political correctness rules the new modern world, and common sense of ruling bodies has all but vanished. Schools turned to turmoil, where the unruly ruled the roost because teachers weren't allowed to discipline and the imaginative minds of the digital generation are wasted. To my understanding, nothing's going to change.
Joel, Manchester, UK

Boy in arcade in 1994
Computer games were reborn
Being at school for the majority of the 1990s the one thing that defined the era for me was video games. The arcades were where the best technology lay but it was the format wars of the home console market that gained most attention. It was a simple Playground dispute: Whose side did you stand on? Nintendo or Sega? Sonic or Mario? If you had told us all back in 1992 that one day Sonic and Mario would be joining forces to feature in their own game, let alone the two companies working together on projects you would have been laughed out of the country. It was pretty much an even fight until Sony came along with the Playstation in 1995 and changed the world. Although Sega's Saturn console was more popular to start with the Playstation brought with it a maturity unknown so far in the industry and with its Club-based marketing and (for the time) exceptional 3D graphics.
Carl James
I remember going around to my friend's house on Christmas Day and playing WipEout and being amazed at how it looked and how fast it played. Overnight the Mega Drive and SNES seemed light years behind and everyone wanted one.
Carl James (right), Sheffield, UK

The explosion of the internet and the growth of mobile phones changed the way we talked to our friends and meant we didn't have to speak to their parents on the phone anymore! Looking back now it seems like a brief window of relative calm between the end of the Cold War in '91 and the changed world we have now following September 11th.
Sam, London, UK

I started using "proper" computers and the internet for the first time on a 28.8kbps modem and thinking it was amazing. By the late 90s I was working at a "dotcom" and then moved away from the UK and haven't been back since! Anything changed?
Garry, Sydney, Australia (previously Burnley, Lancs)

I remember when the internet brought us even closer and suddenly the world was a click away.
Louise, Doncaster/England
I also remember getting my first dial-up internet connection in my flat before a lot of people even started e-mailing...
Mike Bailey, Vienna, Austria

Media wise, I remember seeing images of the first Gulf war on TV... the view from the camera on the front of the cruise missile made look like a computer game. Baudrillard was right about that one.
Richard Graham, Newcastle

Karl Chads
Britain changed quite a lot from the beginning of the 1990s to the end. Politically, it started with the Conservatives as the dominant force nationally, and finished with a strong Labour majority. Culturally, the nation shifted towards a more global outlook which has continued into the present decade. The emergence of the internet in the 90s was probably the single largest development, and the growing number of technological advances such as increased take-up of satellite television, and digitalisation of broadcasting, are the stand-out changes.
Karl Chads (right), London, UK

For me, more than anything, the 1990s was about the internet revolution. I started the decade at university, sending messages to friends at other institutions using the VAX system and thinking this was really cool. By 1994, I had joined my community's first ISP, a text-only freenet that was slow and had no visuals, but at least provided some connection to that quickly-expanding phenomenon, the world wide web. I spent the next few years persuading small businesses that they must get a web presence if they wanted to attract more customers, and assisted those people who had a smattering of knowledge of HTML to start up their own companies as web designers.
Tim Berners-Lee in 1995
The man who started it all, Tim Berners-Lee
We bought our first home computer in 1996 and browsing the internet became second-nature, so much so that when we found out we were expecting our first child in 1999, I immediately went online to look for resources and information on pregnancy. There I found an online community for expectant mums, a bulletin board peopled by women from across the world, many of whom I am still in touch with today. Our daughter's birth was announced to friends and family via e-mail, her first photos taken at 10 minutes old winging their way over the ether across the world within hours of her arrival. Choosing to move from England to a remote part of northern Canada was made much easier thanks to the connectivity provided by the internet. My interactions with it, and ability to remain in touch with the world through it, certainly shaped my decade.
Anne, Northern BC, Canada

Having been born in 1987, I was 12 by the time the decade ended, which meant I was a 90's child! My earliest memory is playing on the Sega Megdrive, playing the football game Italia '90 (I always lost) and trying to get as far as I could on Sonic (but using cheats my cousin gave me). Also remember getting a walkman as a ten year old and listening to music on tapes. Fast forwarding to a song you liked on the tape was very troublesome, as sometimes you missed the beginning! I can vaguely remember winning a boom box at a school fete in the summer of around 92 0r 93 still works today! around 96 or 97 we got our first computer - Windows 95, Pentium II I think! It's where I spend my time during that time, playing games that were pre loaded on it, which probably got me into computers (currently doing a HND in Computing) a few years later, when I was 11 or 12, I got the next generation of Video game technology - the original Playstation. The games had evolved then from the Megadrive times.
Daniel Medcalf, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, UK

I remember the downfall of the Conservative government. I was born in 1974 so couldn't remember anything other THAN a Conservative government. The day Diana died a part of Britain died too. It's never seemed quite the same since. Music was great again though and the internet changed life, being an exciting, brand new thing.
Adrian, Coventry

Computers and the internet brought the world and its events on our own personal screens in our homes. Thatcher was dragged out of No 10 as the Tories staged their own version of 'Julius Caesar'. Social issues grew in awareness and economic positions widened between the classes. Major dubbed 'the grey man' on Spitting Image. Communism appeared to fall out of fashion as countries broke up and divided. The Blair decade began on a high with the death of Diana catapulted a wave of unprecedented euphoria never seen before. The Queen equally was affected and made a televised speech to the grieving nation. Earl Spencers assault at the Royals. The build-up to the Millennium celebrations saw greedy businesses charging exorbitant prices to celebrate in their premises resulting in many staying at home and doing so since. Personal high for me was becoming a grandad in my 40s.
Tim McMahon, Pennar/Wales




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