Four Watershed Moments in IT History

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Every business field has had its fair share of industry-defining moments. If we look at transportation, the 1925’s Ford Model T comes to mind. It was the first mass-produced, affordable vehicle in human history. Other instances include the four brief flights by the Wright brothers’ small plane at Kitty Hawk and the Tokaido Shinkansen. Introduced to the world at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, it marked the birth of modern bullet trains and completely revolutionized public, intercity transportation systems.

In the realm of real estate, examples include the inception of high-rise buildings in developed cities, the start of mortgage loans, and even the Neolithic Revolution more than 10,000 years ago, a defining shift from traveling, nomadic lifestyles to the modern, permanent houses and apartments of today.

The same can be said in the information technology domain, an area with tens, if not hundreds of watershed moments that led to what the industry is today.

Even though there are plenty to choose from, the following are a few of the most significant ones.

The Internet

In the 21st century, it is hard to look back and realize that there used to be a time when the internet didn’t exist. How did people communicate with each other? How did they do research, watch movies, listen to music, and play video games? Was it even possible for companies to do business?

Along with the discovery of fire and the invention of the wheel, the internet is arguably the biggest, most important creation in human history. It is not exaggerated to say that without it, the world would go back to the dark ages, a prehistoric time when food, shelter, and reproduction were the sole purposes of people’s lives.

If you do not believe this to be true, then ask yourself how long you have managed to survive without accessing your smartphone, tablet, computer, or any other online electronic device.

Windows 95

To say the release of Windows 95 was a pivotal moment in the history of IT is perhaps the biggest understatement in history. There are several reasons for this.

First, Windows 95 brought with it the merger of MS-DOS systems and Windows-based products. The result of this was the first functional graphical user interface or GUI. Second, the notion of plug-and-play came into the limelight. Instead of having to know complex programming languages to install both software and hardware into your system, plug-and-play offered a fast, convenient solution for regular people to use different programs and peripherals with their machines. Finally, Windows 95 welcomed user-friendly features like the start button, the notification area, and the taskbar.

When it comes to speed, versatility, and work efficiency, the Windows 95 operating system is now considered by many to be a dinosaur. Yet, at its peak, it was something the world had neither seen before nor expected.

iphone

The iPhone

Many Americans born in the forties and fifties remember where they were and what they were doing the exact moment John F. Kennedy was shot on Friday, November 22nd, 1963. The same is true for people from the eighties and nineties and the introduction of the first iPhone on January 9th, 2007. They recall this moment not because they have good memories or currently use phones and other Apple-made products. The reason they remember is that this product changed their lives.

Aside from a touch screen and the absence of a physical keyboard, what the iPhone did was allow people to dream. It made them stand in awe at what technology, human ingenuity, and innovation were capable of.

Facebook

Apart from getting the attention of pretty girls, one can only wonder what Mark Zuckerberg was thinking about as he developed the prototype for what would later become Facebook. Did he know this unassuming website would one day make him billions? Could he have imagined the social media explosion that was about to happen?

Great entrepreneurs have a unique sense of vision and foresight. Yet, it is doubtful even people like Zuckerberg could see the geometric growth of his idea and many similar ones like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat.

Fast forward 15 years, and you will be hard-pressed to find a human being or a business without a profile in a social media account.

The IT industry has had a vast number of incredible contributions to society. But few are as groundbreaking as the internet, Windows 95, the iPhone, and Facebook. Without them, the world as we know it would be a vastly different place.

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