10 Historical Things “90’s Kids” Should Know About Their Decade

There you are, a 90’s kid, clicking on this article to see what you missed about the decade that you thought you knew so much about. I know it’s hard to believe, but there was actually more going on at the time than keeping up with Corey and Topanga, blowing the dust out of our Game Boy games and acting like the Spice Girls. The nineties were filled with social, political and economic change. It was the turn of a century and a time of progression. There were new beginnings and saddening endings for several significant figures. The following events shed light on the side of the nineties that may have been forgotten or ignored. Many of these events laid the platform for todays technological and cultural advancements and anyone that claims to be from this decade should know about them.

1. 1990: You Can Thank Tim

Tim Berners-Lee is credited with creating the World Wide Web (WWW). Contrary to popular belief, the WWW and the Internet are not the same (Hafner). The WWW was started as a way for documents to be formatted and sent across the Internet. Berners-Lee believed that there should be a systematic way to organize files on the Net, so he wrote the codes for protocols that most people are familiar with today. The protocols include: HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), HTML (hypertext markup language), and URL’s (uniform resource locator) (Hafner). All of these protocols help users identify and share the information they find online. Both the World Wide Web and the Internet have changed the way that people research and keep up with current events. The 21st century thrives on the performance of the web. Without Berners-Lee, the ways that businesses run, the convenience of online browsing and researching, and the culture of social media would be nonexistent.

Read more about Tim and the Web here.
This primary source is a newspaper article published in the New York Times during October of 1999. It explains how Berners-Lee created the WWW and tells about the journey of his success.

Hafner, Katie. “Putting the W’s in Www: Learn How the Author Created the Web, and What URL Really Means.” New York Times 24 Oct. 1999: BR20. Print.

2. 1991: Out With The Cigs, In With The Patch

Shutterstock / Via medicaldaily.com

In 1991, the Food and Drug Administration approved the marketing for a nicotine patch. Nicoderm patches were, and still are, used as an aid for smokers who are trying to kick their habits. The patches were designed to release a dosage of nicotine, the addictive drug found in cigarettes, through the skin of the wearer (Wall Street Journal). Smokers could buy this product as an alternative to Nicorette, the nicotine chewing gum, but only with a prescription. The views of smoking have changed drastically in the last one-hundred years. Tobacco was first introduced in religious and medical practices over 2,000 years ago. In the early 20th century, smoking was regarded as a casual social activity. It was not until the 1950’s that people began accepting the idea that smoking led to health issues (Doll). There were a series of case studies conducted in the fifties that related lung cancer to smoking. The studies caught the public’s attention and changed the way cigarettes were viewed. Since then, research has linked smoking to nearly forty diseases or causes of death (Doll).

Read more about nicotine patches and the affects of smoking here and here.

The first source is a research report that documents the historical approach and views on the effects of smoking. The second is a newspaper article that explains the medical information about the nicotine patch.

A WALL STREET JOURNAL,Staff Reporter. (1991, Nov 11). Marion merrell dow, alza nicotine drug gets FDA approval. Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current File) Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/135551066?accountid=10920

Doll, R. “Uncovering the Effects of Smoking: Historical Perspective.” Statistical methods in medical research 7.2 (1998): 87-117. ProQuest. Web. 4 Aug. 2014.

3. 1992: Dropping Bombs

WikiImages / Via pixabay.com

The US had made a decision to end all production of nuclear weapons. That was great, but the Bush administration wanted to continue testing the weapons that had already been made. It was thought that testing should proceed to ensure the arsenal was in working order (Sabo). This later proved to be unnecessary. Any testing that needed to be done could be carried out in other ways that did not pose any threats to the safety of the public. During the Cold War, nuclear weapons were thought to equalize the battlefield between America and the Soviet Union. Beliefs of using nuclear weapons for equalization changed in the nineties. In order to call it quits and remove the threats that accompany the presence of nuclear weapons, an active effort to control the spreading of them was necessary (Sabo).

Read more about nuclear testing here.
This newspaper article was published in March of 1992 and explains the views of the Bush administration concerning the nuclear weapon situation in America at the time. It also touches on the issues of safety that accompany nuclear weapons.

Sabo, Martin O. “Nuclear Testing Undercuts US Security Interests.” The Christian Science Monitor 24 Mar. 1992: 19. Print.

4. 1993: NASA Loses Contact

Johnson Space Center of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration / Via commons.wikimedia.org

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) endured another failed planetary mission in August of 1993. This mission included plans for the Mars Observer to orbit and explore the planet Mars for 687 days (Weisskopf). Eleven months prior to the issue, the Mars Observer was launched into space. Three days before it was scheduled to begin it’s orbit around Mars, the connection between the orbiter and NASA was lost. Connection had failed several times before, but only temporarily. The engineers and operational team related to this mission were hopeful that communication would be regained, unfortunately it was not (Weisskopf). This mission was designed to collect data for future missions that would include astronauts. NASA researchers were hoping to discover the conditions for possible life on Mars but were left with disappointment instead (Weisskopf). NASA endured a $1 billion loss with the failure of this mission and missed the opportunity to collect valuable research.

Read more about the Mars Observer here.
This Newspaper article is from August of 1993 and provides an overview of the situation that NASA dealt with when they lost communication with the Mars Observer.

Weisskopf, Michael. “NASA Loses Communications With Spacecraft Nearing Mars.” The Washington Post 23 Aug. 1993: A1. Print.

5. 1994: The Killing Of A Killer

Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious serial killer and sex offender, was killed in a Wisconsin prison in November of 1994. Dahmer was known for the murders of several young teens and adults. He admitted to 17 different murders and was convicted for 15 of them by the time of his death (Terry). His tactics were peculiar and gruesome. Dahmer would often kill his victims after drugging them and then proceed by eating or keeping their body parts in his refrigerator (Terry). The death of Jeffrey Dahmer occurred during a routine cleaning of bathrooms in the prison. Three inmates, Dahmer included, had been assigned to clean the bathrooms for several weeks prior to the incident. One morning, the inmates were left alone for almost 20 minutes. The guard that was supervising these cleanings returned to the scene and saw Dahmer in a pool of blood (Terry). One of the inmates working alongside Dahmer had taken the opportunity to beat him almost to the point of death. Dahmer suffered serious head injuries and was declared dead approximately one hour later at a nearby hospital (Terry). With a life sentence, this inmate had nothing to lose. The motives of this incident were unclear, but had the potential to stem from many directions. Dahmer’s sentence of 15 consecutive life terms came to an end, at the age of 34, just 3 years after being incarcerated.

Read more about the death of Jeffrey Dahmer here.
This newspaper article is from November of 1994. It explains some of Dahmer’s background and what led him to his time in prison. It then goes on to tell about how he died and how the families of his victims reacted. It’s imperative that the public is aware of the tragedies that may occur when dealing with a killer of this degree. 1994 brought an end to Dahmer’s spree of murders and the public could breathe a little easier in the days that followed.

Terry, Don. “Jeffrey Dahmer, Multiple Killer, Is Bludgeoned to Death in Prison.” New York Times 29 Nov. 1994, Special ed.: A1. Print.

6. 1995: The Million Man March

Yoke Mc / Joacim Osterstam / Via commons.wikimedia.org

The Million Man March was a gathering of African-Americans that took place in Washington D.C. The purpose of this gathering was to solidify the union between people of color, improve their personal selves as well as their race as a whole, and draw attention to the minority issues within the urban community. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children joined together to embrace their culture and redefine their responsibilities (Samad). This march is often compared to “The March On Washington” that was led by Martian Luther King Jr. The difference between these marches was the number of people in attendance. The Million Man March drew a crowd of nearly 840,000 people, while The March On Washington only hosted 250,000. This was a pilgrimage for many of those in the crowd (Samad). It was a movement that sparked inspiration in the souls of black culture and motivated them to better their relationships with each other.

Read more about The Million Man March here and here.

The first newspaper article was published in the Michigan Chronicle the weekend of the Million Man March. It describes the purpose of the event and the atmosphere of the attendees. It also compares the march to the March on Washington. The second article was from the LA Times and covered the feelings among the black crowd.

Samad, Asadullah A. “BETWEEN THE LINES; The Return of the ‘Million Man March:’ Why Is It Even An Issue?” Los Angeles Sentinel 23 Dec. 2004: A7. Print.

Umachi, Umachi N. “Reflections of the Million Man March.” Michigan Chronicle [Detroit] 13 Oct. 1999: A6. Print.

7. 1996: President Clinton Takes Action

Marc Nozell / Via Flickr: marcn

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed by President Bill Clinton on February 8th. The purpose of this Act was to prohibit one media company from owning signals that reached a majority of the nation’s population. This act allowed any communication company to enter the market of their choice. Large corporations began merging together to gain control of market share and the job market began opening up (Nauth). Companies also began expanding their services and offering things like internet to customers. These expansions required the skill sets of installers to broaden as well (Nauth). One person was now required to know how to install cable, telephone and Internet services. Company infrastructures, employees, and services were all upgrading. This Act laid the groundwork for the way that services are provided to the public today.

Read more about the Telecommunications Act of 1996 here.
This newspaper article is from August of 1996 and was published in The Washington Post. It explains what this act intended to do and what resulted from the passing of it. It gives examples of how media companies handled the new regulations as well as the pros and cons that came from the act.

Nauth, Bekristin. “Telecommunications Deregulation: A Job Bonanza.” The Washington Post 4 Aug. 1996: L11. Print.

8. 1997: The Death Of A Princess

Maxwell Hamilton / Via Flickr: mualphachi

Diana, Princess of Whales, died on August 31, 1997 in a horrific car accident. This was a tragedy that shocked the world and took one of the most iconic historical figures away with it. Princess Diana was “The People’s Princess”, she was known as the person in the royal family that related to the public (Murphy). She was beautiful, fashionable, and real. People idolized Princess Diana and kept up to date with her through published news and images. The public was involved in her life and they simply fell in love with her. Although the media was used as a tool for Diana to connect with and inform the public, she was often overwhelmed by the constant swarms of paparazzi that invaded her personal life. On the day of her death, the paparazzi had pushed its limits. While a heard of photographers were waiting outside of a Paris Ritz Carlton restaurant for Diana and her significant other, Al Fayed, to emerge, another group of photographers was waiting out back (Murphy). When Diana slipped out the back, the group that had been waiting followed her on motorcycles. They were hoping to capture a shot of the two lovers being affectionate with one another. The scene that the paparazzi was trying to photograph was considered a bit of a scandal because Diana had recently divorced her former husband, the Prince of Whales, and was seeing someone new. Unfortunately, the mad chase of Diana’s car resulted in her driver swerving into a concrete wall and crumbling into wreckage (Wallace). The Princess, Mr. Fayed, and the driver all died. Diana’s bodyguard was severely injured (Wallace). The pain of the community after her death was unmeasurable, people all around the globe were mourning the death of an idol. The paparazzi was accused of playing a part in her death and the media was blamed for the years of persistent photographic intrusion they caused her. This situation is ironic because the public fed off of the images and information shared by the news, but they were the first to point the finger at them when she passed. The presence of the media in 1997 is comparable to the degree of involvement that there is in celebrities lives today. Unlike other countries, America does not have a royal family. This results in celebrities often being idolized to the same degree as royalty. There are several parallels between the life of Diana and that of public figures today. The media will always be involved in the lives of the famous, but this incident provided a wake up call to some companies and proposed the idea that it might be in the interest of everyone’s safety for actions to be carried out differently.

Read more about the death of Princess Diana here and here.
The first source was published in the LA Times in September of 1997. It explained Diana’s role in the public and showed her image from the eyes of commoners. The second source was published a week after the first and goes into detail about the time before, during, and after the accident.

Murphy, Dean E., and Carla Hall. “PRINCESS DIANA: 1961-1997; ‘She was the People’s Princess’; Icon: Diana Embodied the Loving Mother, the ‘Queen of Hearts’ and the Forsaken Wife.” Los Angeles Times: 1. Sep 01 1997. ProQuest. Web. 4 Aug. 2014 .

Wallace, B. (1997, Sep 08). Diana, princess of wales: 1961-1997. Maclean’s, 110, 28. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/218456560?accountid=10920

9. 1998: The Birth Of The MP3 Player

nrkbeta / Via Flickr: nrkbeta

The Diamond Rio PMP300 MP3 player was the first of its kind. Compared to todays technology this device seems a bit average, but to the market in 1998, it was like nothing they had seen before (except for the CD player of course). There was room for roughly 12 songs to fit on this MP3 player which was comparable to the value you would get from a CD player (Carey). Since the CD player could only play one disc at a time, 12 songs was about the most you could hear at once on either device. The advancements of the MP3 player included a better portable system without moving parts and a visual aspect to display the track number (Carey). A lawsuit was filed against the PMP300 because it was thought to violate the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 (Carey). This act protected music organizations and was aimed to prevent piracy. The lawsuit was settled in the favor of the MP3 player and the verdict allowed the future market of the MP3 player to develop.

Read more about the PMP300 MP3 player here.
This was published in the Electronic Engineering Times. It discusses the creation, specs, and results of the MP3 player. It compares this product to the devices we have today and explains how it prepared the market for the current industry that is filled with iPods and other mobiles devices.

Carey, David. “The MP3 that Broke New Ground.” Electronic Engineering Times.1465 (2007): 42,42,48. ProQuest. Web. 5 Aug. 2014.

10. 1999: The Shooting on April 20th

April 20, 1999 is remembered most fondly as the day of the Columbine High School Shooting. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold arrived to their high school on this day with firearms, some of which were illegally sold to them by Mark Manes. They began shooting and throwing bombs in the parking lot and then traveled through the school firing in all directions (Miller). The pistol that was illegally sold to them was shot 55 times and in combination with other weapons such a pipe bombs, was responsible for taking 15 lives, two of which were their own (Kenworthy). The aftermath of this shooting was like nothing America had seen before. Students were dealing with the trauma of losing peers and were afraid of going to school (Ochberg). Other cities were afraid that students in their schools would get ideas from this incident and try to reenact it (Columbine students). The community of Columbine banded together spiritually and supported each other in a time of recovery while the school administration took the actions necessary to get things back into working order.

Read more about the Columbine Shooting here, here, here, and here.

These articles were published in newspapers such as the New York Times and The Washington Post. They explain the ideas behind the murders and the events that took place during the shooting. One article also shares an interview with 8 victims of the shooting. Their stories and experiences raised awareness about teen violence and its presence in American high schools. After the Columbine High School shooting, schools took precautions to strengthen their security systems and safety policies.

Columbine students talk of the disaster and life. (1999, Apr 30). New York Times Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/431156700?accountid=10920

Kenworthy, T. (1999, Nov 13). Columbine gun seller gets 6-year term; in videotape, 2 shooters thanked friend but said he didn’t know of their plan. The Washington Post Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/408547238?accountid=10920

Miller, M. (1999, Sep 06). “I survived the columbine high school shooting”. Scholastic Scope, 48, 18-20. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/212878856?accountid=10920

Ochberg, F. M. (2000, Nov 19). Bound by A trauma called columbine. The Washington Post Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/409075383?accountid=10920

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