Razib Ahmed

Technology 1996: What we had and Hadn't? A list of 50 things

By Razib Ahmed, ICT Journalist and Blog writer




10 years can really make so much difference! In 1996, no body knew about blogging and there was no social bookmarking site too. Mobile phone was in its infancy and was limited to a small number of countries, at the hands of a small number of rich people. PCs were too slow compared to today with primitive softwares that we don’t use anymore. The list can go for a long time.
After doing some search, I have tried to compile list of the things we had or hadn't in 1996.

Computer hardware
1. PC users did not have even Pentium II in 1996 (Pentium II came in 1997).
2. Celeron processors were a thing of the future.
3. PC market was very small and was mainly limited to some rich countries. So, Intel-AMD dual did not attract that much media attention.
4. To many people, computer was merely a good typing machine.
5. 16 MB RAM was a big deal.
6. 200 MHz P6 was released by Intel and it was a great thing that time.
7. Apple was sinking and few people could predict that Apple would make such a great comeback after few years.
8. CD-RW was announced. DVD was knocking on the door and came in the next year.
9. Palm Pilot hit the market for the consumers- a big milestone for the technology industry.
10. Digital camera was digital but not affordable.
11. Monochrome monitor (display) was the norm for PC. Did you have a color monitor?
12. LCD monitor was like a science fiction.
13. Sub $1,000 computers were emerging as a cool thing.
14. Microsoft launched IntelliMouse in 1996.

Computer Software
1. Java programming language started to catch attention of the technology world as a platform independent language.
2. Windows 95 was considered to be a cool thing. So cool, that 1 million copies were purchased by users in four days.
3. Microsoft's Office 97 was published in December 2006. It was published in a CD ROM but also 'on a set of 45 3˝-inch floppy disks'.
4. In 1996, there was no MP3 format. Life was really dull for most PC users.
5. According to Wikipedia, there was no major virus attack in 1996. Strange, isn't it?
6. Macromedia Flash 1.0 was introduced. Would you like to work with it now?
7. Microsoft released DirectX 2.0 in 1996 and it is a milestone in computer gaming industry.
8. Microsoft also released Windows CE.
9. Bill Gates has just been listed by Forbes in 1995 as the richest man in the world. In 1996, he was not a household name like today.

1. Internet did not exists in many countries in the world.
2. Boradband! What is broadband? I don't know how many people back in 1996 thought that after 10 years they will watch live football matches.
3. Launched in 1995, Amazon.com started to catch attention.
4. Netgear came into existence.
5. Google was born in 1996 but hardly anyone knew about it outside of Stanford.
6. Web page design was like a nightmare in the absence of easy softwares and very few people could do it.
7. Hotmail was launched in 1996.
8. New York Times started its own website. It was a big deal that time as very few newspapers bothered to bear the expense of having a website and publishing their own materials in it.
9. eBay was there in 1996 but did buy or sell anything? Did you even know that it existed?
10. Microsoft launched Internet Explorer 3 on August 1996. In 1996, Microsoft had only 20% of the browser market share.
11. MSNBC was launched jointly by Microsoft and NBC.
14. Imagine a life without blogs.

Computer and Video Games
1. Pokémon was officially released in February 1996. It is one of the most successful games of all time.
2. Nintendo 64 was born and became popular.
3. Have you played FIFA 97 in 1996?
4. "Deep Blue" created media storm by playing with world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Deep Blue lost in 1996 but then won in 1997. I often feel that Deep Blue is neglected in the history of IT.
5. Quake still sends shockwaves in the heart of many gamers.
6. The House of the Dead is still not dead.

Mobile Phone and Wireless Technology
1. Many countries in the world did not have mobile phone.
2. SMS was theoretically there but 99% users did not find it to be useful. In fact, according to one statistics, in 1995 'on average only 0.4 messages per GSM customer per month'.
3. MMS was like a science fiction.
4. WIFI, WIMax- these things existed in the dream of researchers.
5. No Bluetooth technology.
6. Cell phones contained only melody. There was no ring tone industry.
7. Cell phone sets were too heavy and too expensive.

It is a very amateurish attempt from a person who is not a tech expert. However, while searching, I felt that need for such a list. Internet needs to be organized more. For example, I failed to find out much about the history of color monitors.
If you like or dislike the list and want to add something, feel free to do it in the comment section. If you feel that I have not given link to something that I should please let me know and I will happy to acknowledge it.

(I am writing in this blog with the hope that some of my visitors will visit my professional blogs SouthAsiaBiz and IndianRaj and be regular visitor there. So, if you like my writing please pay a visit- if you have the time.)

iPod to Face a Constant Threat of Mobile Music and Microsoft’s Zude

By Biplob Kishor Dev

The reign of Apple’s iPod, most familiar and popular portable digital music player, is now facing some threats from other competitor of the market and most important from the non-market competitors too. In this competitive market of the world, it has been needed for Apple to change their marketing plan and strategies as a part of their market development for their own survival in the existing market.

First let me come to the competitors from the outside of iPod’s market and that is mobile phone. It has been broadly reported that different mobile phone companies intend to market mobile phone with an extensive opportunity of storing and playing music as iPod does. Some of the mobile phone companies have already introduced such mobile sets which are in some cases giving more facilities to their users than that of an iPod. I got amazing news in a news base website that these days about eighty percent of the leading mobile phone companies give music option to their customers. I am quoting some lines from that website:

“Eihgt out of the world’s Top Ten best-selling mobile phones in September featured music-playing technology, according to a survey of sales on six continents and over 50 countries carried out for Krusell.

Furthermore,the latest figures from IMS Research show that mobile phone sales will top 960 million units in 2006 and over 1 billion in 2007. The net result is that mobile phones are definitely eating into the market share of dedicated music players such as the eponymous iPOD from Apple.”

Nokia’s new model N91 is getting popularity which gives a lucrative offer to its customer. In this set 3000 songs can be stored in a row. Nokia expects to market their new model with the opportunity of storing 6000 songs. Mobile phone companies are also offering the option of downloading music form the companies’ store which is very much similar to the iTunes of Apple. Verizon sets are providing this service. Moreover, there are some other companies like Vcast through which can download a song without going through the computer.

In addition to Mobile phone, other iPod like digital music players are being introduced these days. For instance, Microsoft is going to market a product named “Zune” which you can find similarity to the Apple’s iPod. Moreover, to create a competitor of iTunes of Apple, Zune will introduce Zune Marketplace where its users will be able to buy music with minimal cost and in this product two users can share music through their devices. They do not need to go to computer. To give a short idea of the advantages of this new product, I am quoting some lines from a website:

“The player's strong point lies in what Microsoft describes as "the Zune experience." Wireless player-to-player sharing lets owners spontaneously share full-length tracks of songs, play lists or pictures. This feature allows them to listen to the full track of any song received up to three times over a period of three days.

If people like the one or more of the songs they hear, they can flag it on their player and easily buy it from the Zune Marketplace, Microsoft's version of the iTunes store, either from their PC or directly from the player. This feature allows a person to become exposed to a wide array of music that they may not have heard or discovered otherwise.

The Zune Marketplace allows a person to buy individual songs, much the way iTunes does, but the consumer has the option of buying a "Zune pass," which gives them access to unlimited downloads for a flat monthly fee.”

Here, it is seen that the competition is not only from Apples own marketplace rather from other business. It was not expected that iPod will have to compete with mobile phone as both the products are different. So, for technological development Apple is now thinking to introduce a Mobile Phone for their survival. This business change is known as Marketing Myopia from the marketing perspective. It is also possible for Apple to give some extra facilities in terms of price, facilities and other promotional activities to make iPod alive for a longer time.


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