Every decade has its ups and downs, its treasure chest of serious but also wacky moments. The 1990s are no different! They’re often remembered as being (relatively) peaceful.
The quality of television radically improved. ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘The Simpsons’ reached their popularity in the ’90s along with ‘Friends’, ‘Beverly Hills, 90210’ and ‘NYPD Blue’. In feature films, it was the decade of ‘Pulp Fiction’ and the indie movement. So many historical moments! Serious or wacky these facts about the 1990s are here to take you back in time. Enjoy!
1. Germany re-unified at last.
In 1990 East and West Germany were reunited after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
2. Hogwarts made its debut.
The first three Harry Potter novels appeared in the ’90s.
3. We went deeper into the stars.
The Hubble space telescope launched in 1990.
4. Remember wearing these?
Tight choker necklaces were the fashionable thing to wear.
Perhaps one of the most identifiable clothing fads of the 1990s was the slap bracelet that was created by a high school shop teacher Stuart Anders.
5. Digital pets were all the rage.
More than 76 million Tamagotchis (handheld digital pets) were sold around the world during the ’90s.
6. A certain plumber became a global icon.
According to a national survey conducted in the 1990s, children readily identified Mario, Nintendo’s leading man, while most struggled to point out Mickey Mouse.
7. The Taurus was the leading car.
The four-door Ford Taurus was the best-selling car in the ’90s and chances are that you, or at least someone you knew, owned one of these dependable and affordable cars.
8. The internet used to be a chore to connect to.
Before the days of lightning-speed Internet, users had to endure the painful process of connecting to the Internet through dial-up, a process that seemed to take forever.
9. Hasselhoff and Anderson dominated the airwaves.
Baywatch’s famous slow-motion footage of scantily clad lifeguards running towards danger has become a trademark of the ‘90s.
10. VHS was a huge deal.
During the VHS tapes’ final days of popularity, Aladdin, undoubtedly one of the most popular films of the decade, sold a staggering $1,058,376,296 worth of VHS tapes.
11. Come on and slam!
12. Remember floppies?
Floppy disks, the colorful plastic squares were how you loaded your favorite game in computer class or how you saved your essay.
13. We lost a legend in ’91.
In 1991 the lead singer of the band Queen, Freddie Mercury, died from AIDS.
14. US TV made huge societal strides.
There were no openly gay teen characters on TV until 1992 when Ryan Phillippe played the first one on the ABC soap opera, One Life to Live.
15. Big books of the 90s weren’t all Harry Potters.
The Alchemist by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho was translated into English and published again in the United States in 1993, when it became an instant success, appearing on the New York Times best-seller list for more than 300 weeks.
16. Do you still know the dance?
“Macarena” the greatest one-hit wonder of all was released by Los Del Río in the early to mid 90s.
17. An iconic moment in grunge.
Nirvana MTV Unplugged happened on the 18th of November, 1993.
18. How do you make a dinosaur roar?
The sounds of the super scary t-rex from Jurassic Park (1993) that had everyone on the edge of their seats, was voiced by… a Jack Russell Terrier!
19. Not just used in hospitals!
In 1994, pagers were the precursor to today’s smartphones. An estimated 61 million people were using the devices at one point.
20. Mandela went from prison to presidency.
In 1994 Nelson Mandela became the President of South Africa after being elected in the country’s first multi-racial elections.
21. PlayStation debuted in the mid-90s.
The Sony PlayStation (or PS1) was released in 1995 and quickly became an international obsession. It was originally meant as a joint venture with Nintendo – but it competed against the Super NES and Nintendo 64.
22. DOOM was a 90s trailblazer.
DOOM, released in 1993, beat out Windows 95 to become the most installed piece of software on computers in 1995. It was also one of the first FPS (first person shooter) games to become popular.
23. There was more than one search engine!
Established in 1995, just a few years after the first website was created, AltaVista was the most popular search engine, with more than 83 million hits a day.
24. Toy Story changed animation forever.
One of the best children’s movies (and the first feature film produced by Pixar), Toy Story (1995) was originally supposed to have Billy Crystal as the voice of Buzz Lightyear.
25. OJ’s trial dominated the mid-decade TV.
When the OJ Simpson trial was hot and heavy in 1995, a ginormous amount of Americans tuned in to watch the final verdict on the 3rd of October, 1995, about 95 million of them!
26. Online bidding’s been around for a while!
eBay was founded in 1995 and was originally known as AuctionWeb.
27. Diana’s life took a tragic turn.
In 1996 Princess Diana and Prince Charles got divorced. The Princess would die tragically a year later, in late 1997.
28. His loss!
The Spice Girls asked Tony Blair (just before becoming Prime Minister of the UK the following year) to be in the music video for their 1996 debut smash hit “Wannabe.” He declined the offer.
29. One of the biggest toys ever is still with us!
In October 1996, in a time before the Internet and Ellen Degeneres, Tyco owed the overnight success of their wildly popular Tickle Me, Elmo, to Rosie O’Donnell.
30. The Clinton scandal didn’t affect his popularity.
Bill Clinton’s approval ratings skyrocketed in 1998 during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and they remained high even during his impeachment processing.
31. Government history was made.
Madeleine Albright was appointed as the first female Secretary of State in the United States in 1997.
32. Chat rooms were the big thing of 1997.
AOL Instant Messenger was launched in 1997 and gained 53 million users in less than 10 years.
33. Google’s been around for over 20 years.
The search engine Google was founded in 1998.
34. Larger than life!
The Backstreet Boys were the best-selling artists in 1999.
35. The Microsoft guru was amassing wealth.
In 1999, Bill Gates was already worth $90 billion.
36. It was the decade of iconic toys.
The Barbie Dream House was the best-selling toy in 1999.
37. The cellphone revolution just debuted in the 90s.
Though it wasn’t on the market until 1999, the Nokia 3210 just within the first few years of sales sold more 150 million units, an impressive feat for a new form of technology.
38. The MP3 revolution got underway.
Napster changed the way we listen to music today. From its start 1999 to 2001, it gathered 26.4 million users!
39. Furbys were big with kids, and infuriating for everyone else.
In 1999, when more than 2 million children in America owned at least one of these talking toys, the NSA declared the Furby an international threat and banned people from carrying them.
FAQs about The 1990s
What were the 90s known for?
The 90s was a decade of big technological innovation and fun - the internet, home computers, 16-bit games consoles, Nokia 3210s and digital pets all made their debuts in this decade.
What was living in the 90s really like?
The 1990s was a decade of ‘going to the extreme’ - in terms of excess, and in terms of marketing, too - there were lots of Xs and Zs, and bright, garish colors!
What did people wear in the 1990s?
The 90s was the decade of double denim, platform shoes, flannel shirts, and torn jeans.
Do you know any fun facts about the 1990s? Share them in the comments below!