In the past 20 years alone, technology has changed, evolved, and improved in ways that it never could in the 20th century. Our lives have been better for it, and below, we will discuss the ways that technology has shaped our lives and changed in the last two decades.
Cell phones have been around longer than 20 years, but today, we’re all very much connected and our phones are within arm’s reach. In fact, a study conducted in the UK revealed that only 47 percent of households had access to a cell phone, and unlike today’s smartphones, these phones were limited to basic texting and calling.
Smartphones are everywhere, and almost everyone has access to one! Whether in your purse or pocket, you can now get access to a high-definition camera, the Internet, music players, streaming services, and social media with a tap of your fingers.
Though we live in a world where cameras are now built-in to our phones, most cell phones didn’t have this feature until the early 2000s. The years 1998 to 2000 offered the customization of ringtones and allowed users to play very basic video games, but the first ‘smartphones’ didn’t make an appearance until 2004 when users were able to use GPS locators on their phones and wireless qi chargers allow us to keep our batteries topped up on the go.
The early 2000s phones were mostly flip phones, and Samsung was responsible for manufacturing the most popular models. Shockingly enough, when the first iPhones appeared in 2007, they weren’t very popular, often eclipsed by the then seemingly more user-friendly Blackberry. Blackberries were highly sought after as they featured physical built-in keyboards, a text messaging system, and an email function. Nowadays, physical keyboards are rare and we access our phones using touchscreen keyboards. By 2018, over 95 percent of households owned smartphones, which is a far cry from the statistics found in the new millennium.
*Entertainment And TV
Even in the early 2000s, VHS tapes were still fairly popular for watching videos and also recording favorite shows while you were away from home. 2002 was the first year that households slowly started to make the switch to DVDs as they were less cumbersome, and by 2008, VHS tapes were mostly phased out. Today, most families opt to subscribe to monthly streaming services and hardly (if ever) invest in physical copies of movies or TV shows, but it wasn’t until 2010 that Netflix became the digital platform we know today!
In early 2000, very few households received more than basic standard channel packages and that limited many to no more than five options. Cable TV and satellite boxes now enable families to gain access to hundreds of premium channels with ease while you can use DVR to record any content you’ve missed. Additionally, many channels also have an on-demand section that allows for viewing their content at a later time, which is a far cry from bulky VHS tapes many of us were used to.
Fewer households are tuning in to watch traditional programming on TV thanks to major streaming platforms such as HBO Max, Netflix, and Hulu. They instead choose to stream content based on their own preferences instead of being at the mercy of cable programming networks.
Thanks to faster Internet speeds, the biggest changes are probably seen in the video gaming industry. The year 2000 saw the launch of the PS2 gaming system, which marked a milestone for the industry with the first adult looking system on the market. Before the turn of the new century, most gaming systems were purely manufactured for children and teenagers, which meant access to limited gaming titles such as Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. The gaming systems of the era included N64, Sega, PS1, and Xbox.
The first popular portable gaming system to hit the market was the GameBoy by Nintendo, which was a popular system in the early 2000s. It wasn’t until 2004 that the Nintendo DS made its first appearance with a functional touchscreen. Modern gaming systems are quite different from their predecessors by being fully portable, and in many instances, only requiring a steady Internet connection to play video games.
In the last 20 years alone, the graphic quality of video games has also changed significantly. From the nostalgic pixelated video arcade-like images to stunning nearly lifelike graphics, video games are now a more immersive experience. As the years progress, so does the way we innovate in the industry! From virtual reality headsets to motion tracker technology, gamers have access to a truly immersive experience. Along with 3D imaging technology and real-life physics, video games are more realistic, lending themselves to a better gaming experience. Mobile gaming and the Nintendo Wii console have also helped many non-traditional video gamers (older adults) also dabble in the gaming community. Thanks to Steam as well as app stores such as Google, many small-time game developers are also making their way onto the market to showcase their skills and unique games.
Most music in the early 2000s was released on either CD or cassette tapes that required boomboxes and walkmans to play. It wasn’t until 2001 that the iPod first appeared on the market and required the use of iTunes to rip CDs in order to upload them as a digital file.
The first iPod only held about 1000 songs and featured a 5GB hard drive, and it was in March 2002 that an iPod with double the capacity was launched. The past five years have not been kind to MP3 players and iPods as they’ve mostly become obsolete thanks to the performance and storage capacity of our smartphones.
As most of our music listening is now conducted digitally, there’s no need for physical copies of music anymore. You can listen to your entire music collection with the touch of your finger, which is a far cry from lugging CDs everywhere in the early 2000s.
A UK study conducted in 2000 revealed that only 44 percent of households owned a computer. Part of the reason was that they weren’t just expensive, but also bulky, requiring a great deal of desktop space. In addition, most computers were fairly slow and the graphics subpar in comparison to what we’re used to today. As memory was limited in capacity, most computers also needed an external hard drive.
Our modern world is hard to imagine without computers, but that’s the way it was back then! By 2018, nearly 88 percent of UK households owned at least one computer. As computers are fast, efficient, and highly portable, we use them for every aspect of our daily lives from work to entertainment! Instead of needing a great deal of space, most slim laptops fit in handbags for easy use on-the-go, and thanks to advancements in technology, they are also much faster.
Laptops have been around since the 1980s in some form, but it wasn’t until 2005 that they became a fairly common household commodity. Thanks to laptops, we can live in a more portable world and work virtually anywhere (including at home). In the early 2000s, laptops were highly specialized and required a very expensive upfront investment. As technology has advanced at such lightning speeds, the cost of computers has also become lower. This means that more households are able to get access to technology at a fraction of the cost of what it was back in its infancy. Additionally, there are many operating systems to choose from and basic laptops that are great for browsing or streaming favorite movies.
It’s safe to say, the past 20 years have seen a major change in the way we conduct our households due to the ever-changing nature of technology.