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Top 10 Events You Forgot Happened in the 90s

Top 10 Events You Forgot Happened in the 90s
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem
When you realize how much you don't remember about this decade, you'll be shocked! For this list, we'll be looking at significant happenings from the 1990s that the average individual either forgot about, or may have missed. Our countdown includes The Launch of the MP3, First Russian McDonald's, The Euro is Adopted, and more!

Top 10 Events You Forgot Happened in the 90s


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Events You Forgot Happened in the 90s.

For this list, we’ll be looking at significant happenings from the 1990s that the average individual either forgot about, or may have missed.

If you were around in the 90s, what’s your most prominent memory? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Microsoft Buys Hotmail

Did you know that the first email to use the common name @ place format was sent in 1971? Given how much email has become a part of the world, it’s hard to fathom that it’s 40 years old now. In the early years of the internet, email was relegated to universities and scientific communities. Eventually as more people went online, their internet provider would give them an email address. That is until Hotmail came along. Considered one of the first web based email sites, Hotmail was eventually acquired by Microsoft in 1997 and quickly became the world’s largest webmail provider with around 30 million subscribers by 1999.

#9: Microsoft Saved Apple

Ever since the launch of the personal computer back in the 1980s, there has been a heavy rivalry between the likes of Microsoft and Apple. Apple even once tried to sue Microsoft for copying the look and feel of their operating system. However, unlike Microsoft, Apple had big struggles in the 1990s and almost went bankrupt. But on August 6th, 1997, an unbelievable moment in tech history took place that both companies would never forget. An unlikely partnership between the two rivals was born. Among the details were a $150 million dollar investment from Microsoft which would be used to help bring Apple out of it’s financial woes. A year later, Apple launched the iMac [xref] and never looked back.

#8: First Russian McDonald's

With over 38,000 locations across 119 countries, McDonald’s is a symbol of worldwide expansion. One of the most memorable extensions of the brand was the opening of a new location in Moscow, Russia. It was an idea that was first conceived during the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal when Canadian McDonald’s CEO George Cohon met some Soviet Union officials and took them to eat there. It took almost a quarter of a century to materialize, but a restaurant finally opened on January 31st, 1990 in Moscow. Patrons were lined up around Pushkinskaya Square waiting to get in while those inside could pay 3.75 rubles for a Big Mac. It was a huge celebration and an indicator that change was on the horizon for the nation.


#7: The Launch of the MP3

Have you ever heard the song “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega? Either way, you’ll never think of it the same way after this. It was that song used by scientist Karlheinz Brandenburg to build the algorithm behind the MP3 audio file due to its clarity and Vega’s voice. Introduced in 1995, this new digital format allowed songs to be compressed by as much as 12x times their original size. This triggered a tsunami sized change in the way consumers would acquire music. People immediately began ripping their CDs to MP3 files and sharing them online through apps like Napster. Eventually, more legal means were developed to acquire digital music, and the likes of iTunes and Spotify were born.

#6: Northridge Earthquake

On January 17, 1994, the San Fernando Valley was struck by an earthquake registering at around 6.7 in magnitude. It resulted in more than $20 billion dollars in damage, and saw roughly 90,000 buildings of various types either destroyed outright or severely battered. Even an unexpected outbreak of the Valley Fever hit the area as a result of the quake. Oddly enough, exactly one year later, another earthquake hit on the same day but across the globe in Kobe, Japan [xref]. Registering at a 6.9 magnitude, the quake damaged upwards of 400,000 buildings.

#5: France Nuclear Ping-Pong

As far back as 1960, France had been conducting nuclear weapons experiments and testing in both the Algerian Sahara desert as well as in French Polynesia. These tests went on for several decades despite massive international protests. Eventually, the country opted to suspend their testing in 1992. However, in 1995, France elected a new president: Jacques Chirac. He resumed nuclear testing and more experiments were conducted before the country finally put a permanent end to the practice a year later.

#4: Hubble Space Telescope Launch

We built telescopes on Earth to take a closer look at the heavens. Yet for all that we can see here, it pales in comparison to what the Hubble Space Telescope has shown us. Launched in 1990, Hubble is the only telescope that was designed to be maintained exclusively from outer space. Since it lies above the Earth’s atmosphere, it’s able to detect other waves of light such as ultraviolet and infrared which isn’t as easily accomplished with terrestrial based telescopes. Hubble has since sent back countless images of distant galaxies, nebulas, and other planets, previously beyond the reach of human perception.

#3: The Euro is Adopted

The European Union was designed to allow the free exchange of people and goods amongst its members. This made it much easier for say people in Germany to live and work in France. Yet despite being part of the same union, many of these countries still had their own currency. Enter: the Euro. Officially launched in 1999, the notes and coins for the new currency were introduced into circulation in 2002. Initially, 11 different currencies were replaced including the German Mark, the Italian Lira, and the French Franc. Today, the Euro has replaced 22 different currencies within the union.

#2: World Health Organization Changes Tune

The last few decades have seen an enormous shift in the attitudes towards both gender identity, and sexual orientation. For many years, anyone who saw themselves as being “different” from societal norms was considered to be mentally ill, or suffering from some other type of sickness. In fact, the World Health Organization once listed homosexuality under their “International Classification of Diseases”. In 1990, the 43rd World Health Assembly endorsed a decision to have homosexuality permanently removed from the list. The act of a single line removal was admistrationaly simple, but monumental in its effect. It told the world that such a large organization had switched its perspective on sexual orientation, and others should follow suit.

#1: Ireland Ends Ban on Divorce

In a world where the vast majority of cultures subscribe to the idea of marriage, it’s not uncommon to hear that they don’t all work out. For better or worse, divorce is all too common. That is, unless you were living in Ireland prior to June of 1996. Before then, divorce in Ireland was actually illegal. Couples could legally separate but an actual divorce went against the Constitution of Ireland which was adopted in 1937. A referendum was held in November of 1995 and won by a nail-biting margin of 50.3 over 49.7 of votes.
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