A visual concept of a virtual business and a global social network on a smart phone gadget

From the internet to the iPhone, here are the most important inventions of the last 30 years

The last 30 years have seen some of the most rapid technological advancements in human history, thanks to life-altering creations like the internet and the iPhone.

The internet redefined how we search and share information with each other, breaking down the communication barriers between countries in the process. The iPhone changed how people relate to technology and consume information at a personal level, transforming the smartphone from a luxury item into an essential everyday tool.

These two inventions have helped create a world where technology feels ever present, and the next major advancement feels like it’s just around the corner. The last two decades have seen billion-dollar businesses like Uber, the ride hailing service, or
Netflix
, the video
streaming
service, depend on the ever-presence of internet and smartphones for their success.

Understanding the influence of the internet and the constant spread of information is essential as we explore the most important innovations of the last 30 years.

The internet (1990)

The creation of the internet, or the world wide web as it was first known, has changed billions of lives by providing access to a nearly limitless source of information. By allowing people in different countries to instantly transmit messages to one another, the internet has completely transformed the way we communicate as well.

Photoshop (1990)

Photoshop is a photo-editing suit and an essential computer program for nearly every type of business. The program is incredibly versatile, allowing professionals to create and adjust photos for whatever their needs may be. With the internet making visual communication even more important, Photoshop has enhanced the way we looked at the world while also increasing skepticism about whether what we see is real.

Portable GPS (1990)

Global positioning systems (GPS) were originally developed for US military use but the technology was eventually rolled out to civilians around the world. The earliest consumer GPS devices hit the market as the 1990s began. Since then, the development of the internet and mobile
broadband
has made it easier than ever to navigate new places.

Caller ID (1990)

As someone who hates picking up the phone when I don’t know who’s calling, it’s hard to remember a time before caller ID. But it’s actually been less than 20 years since phones started incorporating their own displays and showing who’s calling.

With most people turning to their smartphones for personal calls, it’s easy to take caller ID for granted these days, but the feature has certainly changed the way we handle phone etiquette.

Cloning (1996)

Dolly the sheep was the world’s first mammal cloned from an adult cell in 1996, sparking an international debate on the ethics of cloning. Dolly died in February 2003 after it was discovered she had a progressive lung disease and she was preserved for public display at the Museum of Scotland.

Cloning remains a tense subject within the scientific community, but researchers are exploring if the technology can be used to reproduce endangered species in the future.

Email and text messaging (1992)

Some companies were able to send their own internal electronic messages during the 70s and 80s, but the introduction of the internet made email a standard form of communication for people around the world.

SMS text messages were originally designed to send short messages through telephone lines, so as texting began to skyrocket in popularity, the infrastructure was already in place to handle the boom.

Netflix (1997)

While Netflix has become ubiquitous with online video streaming, the company started out with much more humble beginnings. Netflix originally only offered subscribers a massive library of movies they could access via mail-order, a far cry from the instant satisfaction people get from queuing up their favorite Netflix shows today.

The company began streaming movies in 2007, and since then nearly every major media company has adopted their own streaming video service. Netflix’s success even influenced tech giants like Apple and Amazon to follow suite with their Apple TV Plus and Amazon Instant Video subscriptions.