- 1990: after 30 years of imprisonment, Nelson Mandela is released from prison and becomes first President of South Africa.
- 1990: World Health Organisation removes homosexuality from its official list of diseases.
- Douglas Coupland’s Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture published in 1991 brings attention to a post-baby boom generation of ‘McJob’ workers who struggle against becoming a ‘target market’.
- 1991: World Wide Web opened to the public.
- Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ propels Nevermind album to top of the charts in 1992 and helps sales of ‘Teen Spirit’ deodorant.
- Pentium Processor developed by Intel and introduced 1993.
- Ben & Jerry’s ‘Cool Britannia’ ice-cream gives a name to an era when Tony Blair in No.10 and Blur and Oasis in the recording studio seemed to herald a new golden age of British pop cultural domination which, in retrospect, perhaps promised more than it delivered.
- Physicists create String Theory and then M-Theory but can’t find the dark matter and dark energy of which most of the universe is apparently made.
- TV: Simpsons, Seinfeld and Sex in the City the big hitters but Dutch ‘Reality TV’ programme Nummer 28 heralds the real future of television which MTV will pick up on in 1992 with The Real World.
- Wonderbra’s ‘Hello Boys’ ad reputedly harms road safety in 1994.
- Kurt Cobain shoots himself in 1994. Tupac Shakur (2pac) is shot while stopped at a traffic light in Las Vegas in 1996.
- Bill Clinton becomes US President in 1993 – in same year Japan plunges into recession which, like Clinton’s Presidency, will last into early 21st century.
- Windows 95 rendered obsolete by Windows 98.
- 1998: Apple launches the translucent plastic, multicolour iMac.
- Euro currency introduced 1999.
Most people began the 1990s without a computer in their home but most people – at least in the affluent West – ended the decade totally dependent on this, usually beige and visually disagreeable, contraption. At first the personal computer changed the way we work – immediately rendering the typewriter obsolete with its capacity to change an existing text (interestingly, a capacity which paralleled Gutenberg’s movable type). It was about words and numbers. But as companies like Intel developed hugely more powerful yet tiny and comparatively cheap micro processors, even the home computer became capable of handling graphics, photos and even moving images. At this point the home computer began to transform not only how we work but, with computer games, how we play: instead of just passively receiving entertainment as in the cinema, we were now – literally – in the driving seat.