Twenty years ago today (24th August), Microsoft launched Windows 95.
This was really the start of a huge change in technology that is still being felt today, even though home computing had been around for more than a decade at that time.
The launch itself was massive – the Empire State Building in New York was lit up in Microsoft’s colours, as was the CN Tower in Toronto. Two of the biggest TV stars of the time starred in the instructional video (Rachel and Chandler from Friends) and the Rolling Stones were reputedly paid $8m for permitting “Start Me Up” to be the soundtrack for the TV adverts.
The software itself was hugely popular – with customers standing in long queues to buy a copy. The graphic design was ahead of its time and the Start Menu was first introduced back then. This has proven to be so popular that it has been re-instated in the latest Windows version after having been removed in 2012. It also worked with virtually all the hardware on the market at the time and helped us to realise that there was more to PCs than just spreadsheets!
A week later, Internet Explorer was launched as the first web browser. Think how far we have come in just 20 years!
Sales of PCs also boomed around the same time: in 1995 the ONS reported that just 25% of households owned a computer but this figure had doubled by 2001. By 2010 this had risen yet again to 80%.
20 years on, and with tablets and smartphones overtaking PCs as the most common platform, Microsoft has ensured that their latest software, Windows 10, is compatible with these devices. But will there ever be such a massive step-forward in home computing?
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