6 October 2005
In 1990, what were the features of 2005 which would have been hard to predict?
In 1990, there was no such thing as the world wide web. Mosaic, the first web browser to break out into anything approaching the mainstream, was still three years in the future. At the end of 1993, Lycos, the first search engine, indexed 800,000 pages. By 2005, estimates (wild guesses?) suggest 600 billion pages.
In 1990, Kodak was synonymous with film. In January 2004, Kodak announced that it would stop selling film cameras in North America and Western Europe.
In 1990, there were no digital mobile phones in the UK, the first GSM networks started in Europe in 1991. By the end of 2004, 89% of households had mobile phones (and only 1% of households had neither fixed nor mobile). In 1990, Norman Lamont could introduce a tax on mobile phones as a populist measure. In 1999, Gordon Brown rescinded it as an even more populist measure.
In 1990, Neil Kinnock was leader of the Labour Party; Margaret Thatcher was (for most of the year) still Prime Minister.
In 1990, fax was a technology which was still developing; plenty of people thought that High Street fax bureaux were viable businesses.
In 1990, 3½” disks were still thought cool and modern – a huge advance on their 5¼” predecssors. The diskfax combined two cutting-edge technologies, and so was even more cool.
In 1990, nobody had sent a text message. The first commerical text service was launched in 1995. Total UK volume was first recorded in April 1998, when 5.4 million were sent in the month. On A-level results day this year, 99.5 million texts were sent on a single day. Predicted UK total for 2005 is 30 billion.
Where are the discontinuities (not necessarily as skewed to technology as this list) which will make 2020 surprisingly different from today?