:The nineties "ain't no stopping us now!".

 : IDE : Adobe Photoshop : Word Perfect : Fast Modems : Windows 3 : OS2 : V32 Bis Modems : Linux: Win NT : Sound Blaster : Sonic Wall : JPEG : PDF : 3D Gaming : VESA Bus : Pentium :Mosaic : Win NT 3.1 : PCI Bus : NDS Netware : JAVA : Win 95 : Direct X : 3.15 EXCH Server : Office 95 : USB : DVD : NT 4 : CE : 3DFX : IEEE : Windows 98 : Windows 2000 : Windows ME : Bill Gates : XBox : Millennium Bug :

1990 IDE Standard adopted

IDE was adopted as a standard by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in November, 1990. The ANSI name for IDE is Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA). The IDE (ATA) standard is one of several related standards maintained by the T10 Committee. IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) is a standard electronic interface used between a computer motherboard's data paths or bus and the computer's disk storage devices. The IDE interface is based on the IBM PC Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) 16-bit bus standard, but it is also used in computers that use other bus standards. Most computers sold today use an enhanced version of IDE called Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics (EIDE). IDE gets its name because the disk drive controller is built into the logic board in the disk drive.

1990 Adobe Photoshop

The story of one of the original "killer apps" begins in Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA) with a college professor named Glenn Knoll. Glenn was a photo enthusiast who maintained a darkroom in the family basement. He was also a technology aficionado intrigued by the emergence of the personal computer.
His two sons, Thomas and John, inherited their father's inquisitive nature. Even though Thomas loved hands-on darkroom work, he too had a keen interest in computers and programming. In 1987 he purchased an Apple Macintosh Plus to help him with his Ph.D. work on the "processing of digital images." Much to his disappointment, the Mac couldn't display grey-scale levels in his images. To solve that problem, Thomas wrote a subroutine to simulate the grey-scale effect.
In early 1988, Thomas decided to give himself six more months to finish a beta version of "ImagePro" and let John shop it around Silicon Valley. Interestingly enough, many of the Silicon Valley companies that John approached were cool to the idea of their image manipulation program. SuperMac turned it down because they didn't understand how ImagePro could complement their already popular product, PixelPaint.
One company, BarneyScan, did show some interest. They offered to bundle (on a short term basis) what was now called "Photoshop" with their slide scanner. A total of about 200 copies of Photoshop were shipped with their scanners, according to Jeff Schewe in his article, "Photoshop: a Decade of Image-Editing Excellence."
In September 1988, the Knoll brothers' luck changed. John presented a demo to Adobe's internal creative team, and they loved the product. A license agreement was struck soon after, and Photoshop 1.0 was shipped in February 1990 after 10 months of development. There is a wealth of information on this subject here at "The Story Of Photography" with thanks for the information above as a synopsis of their information to wet your appetite.

1990 Word Perfect 5.1 launched

During the early 1980’s many folks used Electric Pencil (the first word-processing program for microcomputers), WordStar (which was more powerful), MultiMate the first program that made the IBM PC imitate a Wang word-processing machine), DisplayWrite (which made the IBM PC imitate an IBM DisplayWrite word-processing machine), PC-Write (shareware you could try for free before sending a donation to the author), and Xywrite (which ran faster than any other word processor). But by 1991, most of those users had switched to WordPerfect 5.1, which ran on the IBM PC (and several other computers) and could perform many fancy tricks.
All those word-processing programs were awkward to learn and use. Beginners preferred simpler word-processing programs such as PFS Write (for the IBM PC), IBM Writing Assistant (which was a modified version of PFS Write), Q&A (which also included a database program), Bank Street Writer (for the Apple 2), and Mac Write (which was invented by Apple for the Mac and sometimes given away free). But those word-processing programs couldn’t perform as many tricks as WordPerfect 5.1, which remained the business standard that secretaries were required to learn and use. Learn more about wordprocessing here thanks to "Your Computer Guide"

1990 Faster Modems

1990 Windows 3.0

The first really popular version of Windows was version 3.0, released in 1990. This benefited from the improved graphics available on PCs by this time, and also from the 80386 processor which allowed 'true' multitasking of the Windows applications. This made it more efficient and more reliable when running more than one piece of software at a time. It would even allow you to run and multitask older MS-DOS based software. Windows 3 made the IBM PC a serious piece of competition for the Apple Mac. Various improvements - Windows 3.1 and Windows 3.11 were released, although they didn't really provide many significant improvements to the way windows looked or worked.

1991 IBM OS/2

Also available at a similar time to Windows 3 was IBM's OS/2 (which was actually written in partnership with Microsoft). OS/2 Warp was also released which was a full 32 bit operating system - it came out long before Windows 95, and boasted many similar features. Unfortunately IBM failed to market it successfully enough and it didn't catch on.

1991 V32 Bis Modems

V.32bis, established in early 1991, is the CCITT standard for 14400 bps modems. A V.32bis modem also can fall back to 12000, 9600, 7200 and 4800 bps. V.32bis is downwardly compatible with V.32. Unlike 2400 bps modems where a single modulation protocol (V.22bis) is supported by all modem makers, there are several proprietary modulation protocols used by modems from different manufacturers.
See also the Modem tutorial for all you need to know about modems here>>.

1991 Linux

The Penguin-crested Open Source operating system is important today because it marks the re-emergence of the Open Source movement that had previously looked crushed by proprietary software.
Developer Linus Torvalds was a student at the University of Helsinki when he found a passion for Unix - one that he wanted to follow on his home PC. However, the software cost $5,000 (£3,520) at the time and only ran on $10,000 (£7,040) workstations. Frustrated and broke, he worked on a Unix clone.

By early 1991, Torvalds had created a kernel and Linux was born. Originally Torvalds called it Freax, short for 'free Unix' or hacker 'freaks', but an FTP site manager didn't like the implication and called the site Linux, the working title for the project.

Following the ideology of early developers, Torvalds made the source code available and many programmers and anti-Microsoft advocates believe it is the truth and the light to banish the darkness of proprietary software.
More here>>

1991 Windows NT

At the Microsoft Windows Developers Conference, Microsoft demonstrated its high-end, scaled implementation of Windows, with the same user interface and programming model, and with the ability to run all applications that had been generated for the mainstream versions. This version, Windows NT, offered the advanced operating system features needed for mission-critical applications, high-performance servers, advanced workstations and client/server computing. See Microsoft's NT Fact sheet here top>>

1991 Sound Blaster Audio

One of the first manufacturers of sound cards for the IBM PC was AdLib. This set the standard until Creative Labs produced the Sound Blaster card. The first Sound Blaster and the sequel Sound Blaster Pro featured Frequency modulation synthesis. (or FM Synthesis) This is a form of audio synthesis where the timbre of a simple waveform is changed by frequency modulating it with a modulating frequency that is also in the audio range, resulting in a more complex waveform and a different-sounding tone. The technique was invented by John Chowning at Stanford University in the early 1970s, and later licensed to Yamaha. Thanks to the "Wikipedia" for this excellent information. Much more can be found here>>

1991 SonicWall firewall

1991 JPEG and MPEG

1991 Adobe PDF

The first time Adobe actually talked about this technology was at a Seybold conference in San Jose in 1991. At that time, it was referred to as "IPS" which stood for "Interchange PostScript". Version 1.0 of PDF was announced at Comdex Fall in 1992 where the technology won a 'best of Comdex' award.
The tools to create and view PDF-files, Acrobat, were released in on 15 June 1993. This first version was of no use for the prepress community. It already featured internal links and bookmarks and fonts could be embedded but the only colour space supported was RGB.
Acrobat 2.0 itself also got some nice enhancements, including a new architecture of Acrobat Exchange to support plug-ins in and the possibility to search PDF files.
Adobe themselves were one of the first big users of PDF. They distributed all documents for developers as PDF files. Another early adopter of PDF were the US tax authorities who distributed forms as PDF files.
Acrobat 2.1 added multimedia support with the possibility of adding audio or video data to a PDF document. In those days, PDF was not the only attempt at creating a portable device and operating system independent file format. Its biggest competitor was a product called Common Ground.
In 1995, Adobe began shipping Acrobat, at the same time, Adobe also started adding PDF support to many of its own applications, including FrameMaker 5.0 and PageMaker 6.
See the story of PDF here

 1992 3D Gaming

At a time when 2865 ruled and a 33MHz 386 was considered powerful, the PC's gaming potential was sorely unexplored and under-utilised. Worse still, the humble PC was viewed with utter contempt by the console-loving youth of the time, who laughed in its face from behind their cutesy eight-bit Nintendos.
In 1992 something happened that was to alter the balance of power. Wolfenstein 3D was born, and slowly it all began to change...
ID Software's Nazi-blasting hero William 'BJ' Blazkowicz started a revolution in PC gaming that was ultimately responsible for one of the most popular gaming genres of today, the first-person shooter, and if Wolfenstein wasn't enough to convince the cool kids to down their joypads and migrate to the PC, then the next game to come from ID Software a year later certainly would.
In 1993 Doom was a sheer revelation; similar to Wolfenstein in concept, but this time set in a terrifying, futuristic 3D world replete with fire-throwing beasts and chaotic demons. It spawned a huge following, elevating the programmers to almost god-like status and even helping ignite the first sparks of networked multiplayer gaming.
Forget Sonic or Mario and take a moment to salute true greatness.

1992 Vesa Local Bus

The first local bus to gain popularity, the VESA local bus (also called VL-Bus or VLB for short) was introduced in 1992. VESA stands for the Video Electronics Standards Association, a standards group that was formed in the late eighties to address video-related issues in personal computers. Indeed, the major reason for the development of VLB was to improve video performance in PCs.
The VLB is a 32-bit bus which is in a way a direct extension of the 486 processor/memory bus. A VLB slot is a 16-bit ISA slot with third and fourth slot connectors added on the end. The VLB normally runs at 33 MHz, although higher speeds are possible on some systems. Since it is an extension of the ISA bus, an ISA card can be used in a VLB slot, although it makes sense to use the regular ISA slots first and leave the (small number of) VLB slots open for VLB cards, which won't work in an ISA slot of course. Use of a VLB video card and I/O controller greatly increases system performance over an ISA-only system. While VLB was extremely popular during the reign of the 486, with the introduction of the Pentium and its PCI local bus in 1994, wholesale abandonment of the VLB began in earnest. While Intel pushing PCI was one reason why this happened, there were also several key problems with the VLB implementation. First, the design was strongly based on the 486 processor, and adapting it to the Pentium caused a host of compatibility and other problems. Second, the bus itself was tricky electrically; for example, the number of cards that could be used on the bus was low (often only two or even one), and occasionally there could be timing problems on the bus when more than one card was used. Finally, the bus did not support bus mastering properly since there was no good arbitration scheme, and did not support Plug and Play.

1993 Pentium Processor

For over 10 years PC users had waited for a processor powerful enough to run a graphical interface. Apple Mac had a superb system and the PC user had to put up with non graphical DOS commands. Windows was launched in 1985 and when the 386 chip seemed to be powerful enough to run a fully graphical interface. Windows 1.0 flopped! Not until Windows 3.0 and the 486 processor was there light on the horizon. In 1990 the DOS era drew to a close however even accelerating a 486 could not keep up with software demands.

In May 1993 the hype began about a new 586 processor to replace the aging 486 processor and fulfil all the software developers dreams. Intel could not trademark the 586 so it called its new processor the Pentium. It had a clock speed of 66 MHz. and was a complete letdown! It was even slower on some counts than the 486 it superseded. Within a year however, the Pentium had clock speeds of 100 MHz. and was now pulling well away from the 486. Still software demanded more and it was not until the turn of the century that hardware really did catch up.

1993 Mosaic

the first graphics-based Web browser. Traffic on the Internet expanded at a 341,634% annual growth rate. This Mosaic browser later became the Netscape browser in 1994. More here>>

1993 Windows NT 3.1

was developed alongside Windows for use on servers and businesses. It is designed to be more reliable and secure than Windows 95, but as a trade-off it is less compatible with older MS-DOS based software (crucially for the home market it won't run many video games). See also here>>


1993 PCI Bus

Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Local Bus is currently by far the most popular local I/O bus. The Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) bus was developed by Intel and introduced in 1993. It is geared specifically to fifth- and sixth-generation systems, although even 486 motherboards could use PCI as well. Like the VESA Local Bus, PCI is a 32-bit bus that normally runs at a maximum of 33 MHz. The key to PCI's advantages over its predecessor, the VESA local bus, lies in the chipset that controls it. The PCI bus is controlled by special circuitry in the chipset that is designed to handle it, where the VLB was basically just an extension of the 486 processor bus. PCI is not married to the 486 in this manner, and its chipset provides proper bus arbitration and control facilities, to enable PCI to do much more than VLB ever could. PCI is also used outside the PC platform, providing a degree of universality and allowing manufacturers to save on design costs.

1994 Netware Directory Services (NDS)

The number of passwords required to access network services has increased exponentially, especially now that the Internet has become ubiquitous. Fortunately, for business users at least, NDS has shown the way towards a solution to the problem.

Within any medium to large-sized business, there are many servers, printers, and other network devices, access to which must be controlled. Prior to NDS, most of these devices had to be set up individually for security. Once NDS arrived, a server or servers could be used to control NDS.

The concept provides a 'global, distributed, replicated database that maintains information about, and provides access to, every resource on the network,' to quote Novell's own documentation. A single login and password gives a user access to a certain set of resources. The NDS database unifies security and access, yet it's replicated on multiple servers, so no single system crash will bring it down. This is a far better system than having a plethora of unsynchronised logins and passwords to contend with.
NDS is the inspiration behind Microsoft's Active Directory.

1995 Sun launches JAVA

On May 23, 1995, John Gage, director of the Science Office for Sun Microsystems, and Marc Andreessen, cofounder and executive vice president at Netscape, stepped onto a stage and announced to the SunWorld audience that Java technology was real, it was official, and it was going to be incorporated into Netscape Navigator, at that time, the world's portal to the Internet. The entire Java technology team, not yet a division, numbered less than 30 people. It was the original members of this small group who created and nurtured a technology that would change the computing world.
Java technology was originally created as a programming tool in a small, closed-door project initiated by Patrick Naughton, Mike Sheridan, and James Gosling of Sun in 1991. But creating a new language wasn't even the point of "the Green Project."The secret "Green Team," fully staffed at 13 people, was chartered by Sun to anticipate and plan for the "next wave" in computing. Their initial conclusion was that at least one significant trend would be the convergence of digitally controlled consumer devices and computers.
To demonstrate what they saw as a possible future in digital devices, the Green Team locked themselves away in an anonymous office on Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, cut all regular communications with Sun, and worked around the clock for 18 months. In the summer of 1992, they emerged with a working demo, an interactive, handheld home-entertainment device controller with an animated touch screen user interface.

In the demo, the now familiar Java technology mascot, Duke, was shown waving and doing cartwheels on the screen. The device was called *7 ("Star Seven"), named after an "answer your phone from any extension" feature of the phone system in the Green Team office. Duke was actually a representation of the *7's "agent", a software entity that did tasks on behalf of the user. There is much more to learn about JAVA and the best way is to visit Suns own web site here>>

1995 Windows 95

Windows 95 was released in 1995 (no surprises there) in August. Although it shared much code with Windows 3 and even MS-DOS, Windows 95 had 2 big advantages. First, it was an entire Operating System, you no-longer needed to buy MS-DOS and then install Windows on top of it. Second it was specially written for 80386 and better processors and made 'full' use of the 32 bit facilities. In this respect Windows 95 moved closer to Windows NT. At midnight before Windows 95 went on sale, the stores were opened  to hordes of customers waiting, all wanting to be the first to buy the first copies of Windows 95. Never before (or since) has there been such excitement over a new computer operating system.

1995 Microsoft Direct X

In the early days of Windows, and particularly with DOS, peripheral devices such as sound cards or video cards needed software to be written specifically for the features they contained. As the number of manufacturers and different variations of peripheral devices grew, this became increasing unfeasible. The main problem for developers was the inconstancy factor. Put simply, they couldn't be sure that the software they had written would work consistently across any Windows-based platform due to the wide diversity of hardware. Microsoft developed DirectX to counter this problem.
DirectX is essentiallya single complete set of APls {Application Programming Interfaces) that not only offers a standardised set of features but also improves access to more advanced features, such as 3D acceleration via Direct3D. Even if a hardware device lacked certain features it was still possible for DirectX to make use of it thanks to its HEL {Hardware Emulation Layer), which emulates hardware features in software.

1995 Windows 3.51 Exchange Server

Microsoft announced Windows NT 3.51. Windows NT Server now included a tool to help customers manage Client Access Licenses for Microsoft BackOffice® family products and a utility that enabled over-the-network installation of Windows 95. Windows NT Workstation provided support for Windows 95-compatible applications, popular fax software, a replaceable WinLogon screen, and additional devices including PCMCIA.  

1996 Office for Windows 95

Using Microsoft IntelliSense technology to make everyday tasks such as entering text easier. Formatting and checking spelling happen automatically, on the fly. And built-in wizards walk you through more complex tasks step by step. So activities such as building a relational database from scratch, setting up a meeting, and building a presentation aren't complex the first time. And if you have questions as you go along, you can ask them of the Answer Wizard in your own words, such as "How do I print this page sideways?"
The technology of Office was advanced and made basic daily computer work much easier.
see the full report here>>

1996 USB

USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. USB is a plug-and-play interface used between computers and add-on devices (such as audio players, joysticks, keyboards, scanners, mass storage devices, and printers). With USB, a new device can be installed into your computer without having to add an adapter card, you can also "hot swap" enabling you to remove peripherals when the computer is switched on without having to turn the computer off. USB CD-RW drives can be installed by simply plugging them into the computer at any time during operation.
The USB peripheral bus standard was jointly developed by Compaq, IBM, DEC, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, and Northern Telecom. The first computers that began shipping with USB capability, began showing up in late 1996. Today, the technology is now openly available for all computer and device vendors. Currently, USB is available on over 90% of computers manufactured today.
An increasing amount of devices use the USB port to connect to the PC, like web cams, digital cameras, scanners, printers etc. This because USB offers many advantages.
High speed transfers,  maximum number of 127 devices simultaneously connected to a PC plus the USB cable is also capable of supplying power to the connected device. Devices with low power consumption like web cams and scanners can operated without plugging in an extra power adapter. This will make products cheaper and easier to use and connect. See here for more information

1996 DVD

DVD-Video players were launched in Japan in November 1996, in the USA in March 1997 and in Europe in 1998. Since then DVD-Video has grown faster than any other consumer electronics format in all these regions. DVD was later adopted as a huge storage medium (4.9gigabytes) on the PC.

1996 Windows NT 4.0

Microsoft released Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Windows NT Server 4.0. Windows NT Server 4.0 brought ease of use and management, higher network throughput, and a complete set of tools for developing and managing intranets. Windows NT Server 4.0 included Microsoft Internet Information Server version 2.0 and the Microsoft FrontPage® Web site creation and management tool version 1.1. The Windows NT Workstation release included the popular Windows 95 user interface and built-in networking support, providing secure, easy access to the Internet and corporate intranets.

1996 Windows CE launched.

Windows CE 1.0 is launched with the look and feel of Windows 95 and NT. Users familiar with either of these operating systems are able to instantly use Handheld PCs and Palm-size PCs.
Windows CE 1.0 devices appeared in November 1996. Over the next year, approximately 500,000 Handheld PC units were sold worldwide.

1997 3DFX and Voodoo

Despite ground-breaking titles like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, the PC was still lagging behind gaming consoles like the PlayStation and needed a shake-up to claim the games industry. 3dfx provided just that with the original Voodoo 3D accelerator.
Launched in 1997, the Voodoo chipset was sold by OEM vendors like Creative Labs and Guillemot. It sported two large 3dfxchips and 4Mb of RAM on a board that, unless you had a Voodoo Rush board, could only be used in addition to a standard 2D graphics card. There was competition from PowerVR and ViRGE, but the Voodoo had several things in its favour. You only needed a Pentium/90 for reasonable performance, it was blindingly fast and it supported 3dfx's proprietary API - GLide.

   Several games required GLide before Direct3D became the standard it is now, and this made the Voodoo card the true gamers choice at the time. 3dfx continued to rule the seas with the Voodoo2, before it took on board manufacturing with its Voodoo3 series. Unfortunately for the company, Nvidia managed to produce TNT2, GeForce and GeForce2 GTS chip sets before the next Voodoo card appeared, by which time 3dfx was long out of date.

1997 IEEE for WLANS accepted

In order for WLANs to be widely accepted, there needed to be an industry standard devised to ensure the compatibility and reliability among all manufacturers of the devices. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has provided just that.
The original standard IEEE 802.11 was defined as a standard in 1997 followed by IEEE 802.11a and IEEE 802.11b in September of 1999. The original standard operates at a radio frequency (RF) band that surrounds 2.4GHz and provides for data rates of 1Mbps and 2Mbps and a set of fundamental signaling methods and services. The IEEE 802.11a and IEEE 802.11b standards are defined at bands of 5.8GHz and 2.4GHz, respectively. The two additions also define new Physical (PHY) layers for data rates from 5Mbps, 11Mbps, to 54Mbps with IEEE 802.11a. These standards operate in what is known as the Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) frequency bands. The typical bands are 902-928MHz (26MHz available bandwidth), 2.4-2.4835 GHz (83.5 MHz available), and 5.725-5.850 GHz (125MHz available), with the latter allowing for IEEE 802.11a's higher data rate.

1998 Windows 98

1998 (June 25) saw the release of Windows 98, which is very similar to Windows 95, except that it provided an improved filing system (which controls the way data is stored on disks), the improvements made it efficient and allowed it to support disks larger than the 2 GB allowed by the first release of Windows 95. Windows 98 also brought support for USB and AGP. See also here>>

2000 Windows 2000

Feb 17th 2000 launches Windows 2000 a system that provides an impressive platform of Internet, intranet, extranet, and management applications that integrate tightly with Active Directory. You can set up virtual private networks - secure, encrypted connections across the Internet - with your choice of protocol. You can encrypt data on the network or on-disk. You can give users consistent access to the same files and objects from any network-connected PC. You can use the Windows Installer to distribute software to users over the LAN.

2000 Windows ME

It was Microsoft's aim - with Windows 2000 - to merge the two versions of Windows (Windows 95/8 and Windows NT) into one product, but they failed. Because of the memory protection (which helps provide reliability and security), Windows 2000 is unable to run some of the 'legacy software' (imparticular games) that Windows 95 and 98 can - so Windows Millenium Edition (ME) was born. Windows 2000 is basically NT version 5 with a slightly prettier interface and a more exciting name than previous members of the NT series, while Windows ME is the latest in the 95/98 family See also here>>

2000 Bill Gates relinquishes CEO

Bill Gates relinquishes his title as CEO  to MS President Steve Ballmer on January 13, 2000.

2000 Microsoft launches the XBox

Creating and producing the Xbox required a massive amount of work over less than two years. It involved diverse internal and external teams from hardware to software to usability to game development. Creating the hardware was only the first piece of the puzzle. Microsoft had to create thin and robust game libraries, a powerful game development environment, a wide variety of tools along with copious documentation. The end result was the XBox with graphics better than its rivals and Microsoft firmly in the games console market.

2000 The Millennium Bug

Decades ago, computer programmers collectively and individually decided not to include the unnecessary "19" century digits before every year date. By doing so, this saved a lot of valuable, expensive, and rare memory space (back then). It was a responsible and logical decision.
On New Year's Eve 1999, when we flip from 31/12/99 to 01/01/00, many computers won't know what Year 00 is and will assume either it's 1900 or nil-input.
Any company, organization, or government that didn't take the time to look at how their systems would operate in the Year 00 were inviting disaster. But most companies, organizations, and governments had already done so. The only reason to panic or worry would be if no one was doing anything about it. The issue did indeed exist; it's just was not as gigantic a problem as it has been inflated to be.
If nothing was done to check your business computers, there may have been some trouble on Saturday morning, January 1, 2000. People were so worried that they thought Planes would fall out of the sky, elevators would not drop, governments would collapse, banks would issue no money.  As it was the year 2000 arrived without any major catastrophe other than the telephone system of Portugal failed to work. It was a huge money making scare story.