How 20 Years have Transformed Tech
The past two decades have been some of the most rapid in history in terms of technological advancement, and the world of technology looks completely different today than it did in 2000.
20 years ago, under half of all UK households had a mobile phone. They've gone from a convenient way to reach people who are out of the office to a ubiquitous part of life, with most people never far away from their phone.
That's because now, in addition to calling, they're used for entertainment, organisation, notes, reference material, and dozens of other functions that have nothing to do with phone calls.
The first iPhone was released in 2007. Prior to that, flip phones and Blackberries were the devices of choice for those trying to stay connected 24/7. Now touch screens have become the norm (raise your hand if you miss T9 word and single letter keyboards!)
Television & entertainment
VHS tapes went from the height of popularity to almost obsolete in about five years when DVDs came out in 2002. Netflix, which now is one of the giants of digital streaming, started as a rental service that would literally mail you a DVD.
In the space of 10 years, streaming has become the most popular way to watch movies and TV, but broadcast has also seen enormous advancement, with satellite and cable services offering hundreds of channels as opposed to the standard five or so available in most places with an antenna.
Still, more and more people are opting to forego purchasing a traditional TV setup package in favour of reliance on streaming and sites like YouTube and NowTV.
The launch of the PS2 in 2000 was a watershed moment for video game culture because it was the first console not specifically marketed towards children. It made adult video game enthusiasts more visible as a market and opened the door to games that prioritised more skill or telling a suspenseful story, which was an idea that had always existed in gaming but never had such massive popularity.
There have also been huge advances in mobile gaming since the days when Nintendo was stretching the limits of programming to create Pokemon Red and Blue for the Game Boy. Now you can play games on your phone that would have been state of the art for a mobile gaming system in 2000.
Graphics and processing power in game systems have overall taken a huge leap, from the blocky 3D shapes of the original PlayStation, Xbox, and GameCube to the photorealism of today's triple A titles. Features like motion tracking and VR are also making games more social and attracting more people outside the usual core video game audience.
Released in 2001, the iPod – capable of holding up to around 1000 songs – was the first device that encouraged people to take their entire music collection everywhere with them.
If your music collection was more than 1000 songs, you had to sit down for 5 hours in front of iTunes of a weekend and agonisingly select your first string songs, and if you discovered a new favourite, something had to get bumped.
In the next few years, MP3 players doubled and tripled their storage capacity – but now large mobile phone storage capabilities and cloud storage have made even them largely obsolete.
In the past 20 years, the number of people who own home computers has doubled. The computers we own have become smaller, faster, and more convenient, with laptops outstripping desktop PCs in sales in 2005.
The portability of computers has allowed many white-collar workers to clock in from anywhere, setting the stage for the remote work revolution.
Blogging platforms with active communities existed before MySpace launched in 2003, but MySpace's more interactive experience made way for the success of Facebook and other later social media giants.
Now we have a variety of platforms serving various demographics and types of posts to choose from. Social media direct-message systems and instant messaging apps like WhatsApp have mostly replaced early instant-messaging programs like MSN Messenger and AIM – though not in the hearts of anybody who went to school in the early aughts.