1990s

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Hubble Space TelescopeGulf WarOslo AccordsInternetDissolution of the Soviet UnionDolly the sheepDeath of Diana, Princess of WalesRwandan genocideSecond Congo War
From top-left, clockwise: The Hubble Space Telescope orbits the Earth after it was launched in 1990; American F-16s and F-15s fly over burning oil fields in Operation Desert Storm, also known as the 1991 Gulf War; the signing of the Oslo Accords on 13 September 1993; the World Wide Web gains a public face at the start of the decade and gains massive popularity worldwide; Boris Yeltsin and followers stand on a tank in defiance to the August Coup, which leads to the dissolution of the Soviet Union on 26 December 1991; Dolly the sheep is the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell; the funeral procession of Diana, Princess of Wales, who died in 1997 in a car crash in Paris, and was mourned by millions; hundreds of thousands of Tutsi people are killed in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. This would become a factor in initiating the Second Congo War of 1998.
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The 1990s (pronounced nineteen nineties, shortened to the 90s and also referred to as simply the nineties) was a decade that began on January 1, 1990, and ended on December 31st, 1999.

The decade, known as the Post-Cold War Decade. Culturally, it is often defined as the period from the Revolutions of 1989 that marked the end of the Cold War until the Global War on Terrorism (including the September 11 attacks, the War in Afghanistan, the Iraq War, and the war on drugs) in the following decade.[1] In the United States, the decade saw greater attention to multiculturalism compared to the 1980s,[2] as well as the advance of alternative media. Music movements like grunge, Eurodance, and hip hop, became popular with young people worldwide, aided by cable television and the Internet. The 1990s saw advances in technology, with the World Wide Web, the first gene therapy trial, and cloning all emerging and being improved upon throughout the decade.

A combination of factors, including the continued mass mobilization of capital markets through neoliberalism, the end of the Cold War caused by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the beginning of the widespread proliferation of new media such as the Internet, and increasing skepticism towards the government, led to a realignment and consolidation of economic and political power across the world. Many countries were economically prosperous during the 1990s. High-income countries experienced steady economic growth for much of the decade during the Great Moderation. In contrast, the GDP of the countries of the former Soviet Union declined as their economies restructured. International trade increased with the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 and forming of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, and the dot-com frenzy resulted in the dot-com bubble of 1997–2000 that brought great wealth to some entrepreneurs before its crash in 2000 and 2001.

New ethnic conflicts emerged in Africa (such as the Rwandan genocide), the Balkans (such as the Bosnian genocide), and the Caucasus (several wars in the Chechen–Russian conflict). Signs of any resolution of tensions between Israel and the Arab world remained elusive, despite the progress of the Oslo Accords. However, there was progress in Northern Ireland: The Troubles came to a standstill in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement, following 30 years of violence.[3]

Politics and wars[edit]

International wars[edit]

Clockwise from top: USAF F-15Es, F-16s, and an F-15C flying over burning Kuwaiti oil wells; British troops from the Staffordshire Regiment in Operation Granby; camera view from a Lockheed AC-130; the Highway of Death; M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle.
  • The Gulf War (August 1990 – February 1991) – Iraq was left in severe debt after the Iran–Iraq War in the 1980s. President Saddam Hussein accused Kuwait of flooding the market with oil and driving down prices. As a result, Iraqi forces invaded and conquered Kuwait. The UN (United Nations) immediately condemned the action, and a coalition force led by the United States was sent to the Persian Gulf. Aerial bombing of Iraq began in January 1991, and a month later, the UN forces drove the Iraqi army from Kuwait in four days.
  • The Chechen Wars were fought in the region of Chechnya.
    • The First Chechen War (1994–1996) – was a conflict fought between the Russian Federation and the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. After the initial campaign of 1994–1995 culminated in the devastating Battle of Grozny, Russian federal forces attempted to seize control of the mountainous area of Chechnya. However, despite Russia's overwhelming manpower, weaponry, and air support, it was set back by Chechen guerrillas and raids on the flatlands. The resulting widespread demoralization of federal forces, and the almost universal opposition of the Russian public to the conflict, led Boris Yeltsin's government to declare a ceasefire in 1996 and sign a peace treaty a year later.
    • The Second Chechen War (1999 – 2009) – was started by the Russian Federation in response to the 1999 invasion of Dagestan and the Russian apartment bombings, which were blamed on the Chechens. Due to this military campaign, Russian forces largely recaptured the separatist region of Chechnya[5] and the outcome of the First Chechen War – in which the region gained de facto independence as the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria – was essentially reversed.
  • The Eritrean–Ethiopian War (1998–2000) was started by the invasion of Eritrea into Ethiopia due to a claim over a town.[6] The conflict resulted in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides[7] and a peace agreement in December 2000.[8]
  • The Kargil War (1999) – during May, Pakistan sent troops covertly to occupy strategic peaks in Kashmir. A month later, the Kargil War with India resulted in a political fiasco for Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, followed by a Pakistani military withdrawal to the Line of Control. The incident led to a military coup in October, in which Sharif was ousted by Army Chief Pervez Musharraf. This conflict remains the only war fought between two declared nuclear powers.
Executive council building burns in Sarajevo after being hit by Bosnian Serb artillery in the Bosnian War.

Civil wars and guerrilla wars[edit]

Rwandan genocide: Genocide victims in Murambi Technical School. Estimates put the death toll of the Rwandan genocide as high as 800,000 people.

Coups[edit]

Terrorist attacks[edit]

The federal building that was bombed in the Oklahoma City bombing two days after the bombing, viewed from across the adjacent parking lot.

Decolonization and independence[edit]

Political trends[edit]

Prominent political events[edit]

Africa[edit]

Nelson Mandela voting in 1994, after thirty years of imprisonment.

North America[edit]

During the late 1990s, a move was made to remove American president Bill Clinton from power following the Clinton–Lewinsky scandal. The attempt did not succeed, and Clinton continued to serve as president until the end of his term in January 2001.

Asia[edit]

Europe[edit]

South America[edit]

Assassinations and attempts[edit]

Prominent assassinations, targeted killings, and assassination attempts include:

Disasters[edit]

Natural disasters[edit]

The 1999 İzmit earthquake which occurred in northwestern Turkey killed 17,217 and injured 43,959.

The 1990s saw a trend in frequent and more devastating natural disasters, breaking many previous records. Although the 1990s was designated by the United Nations as an International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction as part of its program to prevent losses due to disasters, disasters would go on to cause a record-breaking US$608 billion worth of damage—more than four past decades combined.[24]

Hurricane Georges downed trees in Key West along the old houseboat row on South Roosevelt Blvd.
  • Hurricane Georges made landfall in at least seven different countries (Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and the United States) and Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth of the United States – more than any other hurricane since Hurricane Inez of the 1966 season. The total estimated costs were $60 billion (present-day $100 billion).
  • September 1996 – Hurricane Fran made landfall in North Carolina, causing significant damage throughout the entire state.
  • Hurricane Iniki hit the island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands on 11 September 1992, making it one of the costliest hurricanes on record in the eastern Pacific.
  • A flood hits the Red River Valley in 1997 becoming the most severe flood since 1826.
  • In December 1999, torrential rains and flash floods killed tens of thousands of Venezuelans living in the state of Vargas in a natural disaster known as the Vargas tragedy.

Non-natural disasters[edit]

The crash site of El Al Flight 1862 in 1992.

Economics[edit]

  • Many countries, institutions, companies, and organizations were prosperous during the 1990s. High-income countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and Western Europe experienced steady economic growth for much of the decade during the Great Moderation. However, in the former Soviet Union, GDP decreased as their economies restructured to produce goods they needed, and some capital flight occurred.
  • GATT update and creation of the World Trade Organization and other global economic institutions, but opposition by anti-globalization activists showed up in nearly every GATT summit, like the demonstrations in Seattle in December 1999.
  • The anti-globalization protests at the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference of 1999 in Seattle began on 30 November 1999. This marked the beginning of a steady increase in anti-globalization protests in the first decade of the 21st century and increasing hostility to neoliberalism.
  • U.S. inflation moderated, beginning in 1990 at 5.39%, falling to a low of 1.55% in 1998 and rising slightly to 2.19% in 1999.[25]

North America

The Dow Jones Index of the 1990s
  • The decade is seen as a time of great prosperity in the United States and Canada, largely because of the unexpected advent of the Internet and the explosion of technology industries. The U.S. and Canadian economies experienced their longest period of peacetime economic expansion, beginning in 1991. Personal incomes doubled from the recession in 1990, and there was higher productivity overall. The Wall Street stock exchange stayed over the 10,500 mark from 1999 to 2001.
  • After the 1992 booming of the US stock market, Alan Greenspan coined the phrase "irrational exuberance".
  • The North American Free Trade Agreement, which phases out the trade barriers between the United States, Mexico, and Canada, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton.

Asia

  • In the People's Republic of China, the government announced the major privatization of state-owned industries in September 1997. China entered the 1990s in a turbulent period due to the aftermath of both the Tiananmen Square Massacre and hardline politicians' efforts to rein in private enterprise and attempt to revive old-fashioned propaganda campaigns. Relations with the United States deteriorated sharply, and the Chinese leadership was further embarrassed by the disintegration of communism in Europe. In 1992 Deng Xiaoping travelled to southern China in his last major public appearance to revitalize faith in market economics and stop the country's slide back into Maoism. Afterward, China recovered and would experience explosive economic growth during the rest of the decade. Despite this, dissent continued to be suppressed, and CPC General Secretary Jiang Zemin launched a brutal crackdown against the Falun Gong religious sect in 1999. Deng Xiaoping died in 1997 at the age of 93. Relations with the US deteriorated again in 1999 after the bombing of the Chinese embassy during the bombing of Serbia by NATO forces, which caused three deaths, and allegations of Chinese espionage at the Los Alamos Nuclear Facility.
  • Financial crisis hits East and Southeast Asian countries between 1997 and 1998 after a long period of phenomenal economic development, which continues by 1999. This crisis begins to be felt by the end of the decade.
  • In Japan, after three decades of economic growth put them in second place in the world's economies, the situation worsened after 1993. The recession went on into the early first decade of the 21st century, ending the seemingly unlimited prosperity that the country had before enjoyed.
  • Less affluent nations such as India, Malaysia, and Vietnam also saw tremendous improvements in economic prosperity and quality of life during the 1990s. Restructuring following the end of the Cold War was beginning. However, there was also the continuation of terrorism in Third World regions that were once the "frontlines" for American and Soviet foreign politics, particularly in Asia.
Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton share a laugh in October 1995.

Europe

  • By 1990, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms were causing major inflation and economic chaos. A coup attempt by hardliners in August 1991 failed, marking the effective end of the Soviet Union. All its constituent republics declared their independence in 1991, and Gorbachev resigned from office on Christmas. After 73 years, the Soviet Union had ceased to exist. The new Russian Federation was headed by Boris Yeltsin and would face severe economic difficulty. Oligarchs took over Russia's energy and industrial sectors, reducing almost half the country to poverty. With a 3% approval rating, Yeltsin had to buy the support of the oligarchs to win reelection in 1996. Economic turmoil and devaluation of the ruble continued, and with heart and alcohol troubles, Yeltsin stepped down from office on the last day of 1999, handing power to Vladimir Putin.
  • Russian financial crisis in the 1990s resulted in mass hyperinflation and prompted economic intervention from the International Monetary Fund and western countries to help Russia's economy recover.
  • The first McDonald's restaurant opened in Moscow in 1990 with then-President of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR and future Russian President Boris Yeltsin attending, symbolizing Russia's transition towards a capitalist free market economy and a move towards adopting elements of Western culture.
  • Oil and gas were discovered in many countries in the former Soviet bloc, leading to economic growth and broader adoption of trade between nations. These trends were also fueled by inexpensive fossil energy, with low petroleum prices caused by increased oil production. Political stability and decreased militarization due to the winding down of the Cold War led to economic development and higher living standards for many citizens.
  • Most of Europe enjoyed growing prosperity during the 1990s. However, problems including the massive 1995 general strikes in France following a recession and the difficulties associated with German reunification led to sluggish growth in these countries. However, the French and German economies improved in the latter half of the decade. Meanwhile, the economies of particularly Spain, Scandinavia and former Eastern Bloc countries accelerated at rapid speed during the decade. However, unemployment rates were low due to many having experienced a deep recession at the start of the decade.
  • After the early 1990s recession, the United Kingdom and Ireland experienced rapid economic growth and falling unemployment that continued throughout the decade. Economic growth would continue until the Late 2000s recession, marking the longest uninterrupted period of economic growth in history.
  • Some Eastern European economies struggled after the fall of communism, but Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania saw economic growth rates in the late 1990s.
  • With the creation of the European Union (EU), there is freedom of movement between member states, such as the 1992 and 1995 free trade agreements.
  • The euro is adopted by the European Union on 1 January 1999, which begins a process of phasing out national currencies of EU countries.[26]

South America

  • The sluggish economies of Brazil, by a new emphasis on free markets for all their citizens, and Mexico, under economist president Ernesto Zedillo elected in 1994, were in their best shape by the late 1990s.

Technology and science[edit]

Technology[edit]

The 1990s were a revolutionary decade for digital technology. Between 1990 and 1997, individual personal computer ownership in the US rose from 15% to 35%.[27] Cell phones of the early-1990s and earlier ones were very large, lacked extra features, and were used by only a few percent of the population of even the wealthiest nations. Only a few million people used online services in 1990, and the World Wide Web, which would have a significant impact on technology for many decades, had only just been invented. The first web browser went online in 1993[28] and by 2001, more than 50% of some Western countries had Internet access, and more than 25% had cell phone access.

Electronics and communications[edit]

The logo created by The President's Council on the Year 2000 Conversion, for use on Y2K.gov
  • On 6 August 1991, CERN, a pan-European organization for particle research, publicized the new World Wide Web project.[29] Although the basic applications and guidelines that make the Internet possible had existed for almost two decades, the network did not gain a public face until the 1990s.
  • Driven by mass adoption, consumer personal computer specifications increased dramatically during the 1990s, from 512 KB RAM 12 MHz Turbo XTs in 1990,[30] to 25–66 MHz 80486-class processor at the start of the popularization of the World Wide Web mid-decade,[31] to over 1 GHz CPUs with close to a gigabyte of RAM by 2000.
  • Y2K spread fear throughout the United States and eventually the world in the last half of the decade, particularly in 1999, about possible massive computer malfunctions on 1 January 2000. As a result, many people stocked up on supplies for fear of a worldwide disaster. After significant effort to upgrade systems on the part of software engineers, no failures occurred when the clocks rolled over into 2000.
  • Advancements in computer modems, ISDN, cable modems, and DSL lead to faster connections to the Internet.
  • The first Pentium microprocessor is introduced and developed by the Intel Corporation.
  • Email becomes popular; as a result, Microsoft acquires the popular Hotmail webmail service.
  • Instant messaging and the buddy list feature becomes popular. AIM and ICQ are two early protocols.
  • Businesses start to build e-commerce websites; e-commerce-only companies such as Amazon.com, eBay, AOL, and Yahoo! grow rapidly.
  • The introduction of affordable, smaller satellite dishes and the DVB-S standard in the mid-1990s expanded satellite television services that carried up to 500 television channels.
  • The first MP3 player, the MPMan, is released in the late spring of 1998. It came with 32 MB of flash memory expandable to 64 MB. By the mid-2000s, the MP3 player would overtake the CD player in popularity.
  • The first GSM network is launched in Finland in 1991.
  • Digital single-lens reflex cameras and regular digital cameras become commercially available. They would replace film cameras by the mid-2000s.
  • IBM introduces the 1-inch (25 mm) wide Microdrive hard drive in 170 MB and 340 MB capacities.
  • Apple Computer in 1998 introduces the iMac all-in-one computer, initiating a trend in computer design towards translucent plastics and multicolour case design, discontinuing many legacy technologies like serial ports, and beginning a resurgence in the company's fortunes that continues to this day.
  • CD burner drives are introduced.
  • The CD-ROM drive became standard for most personal computers during the decade.
  • The DVD media format is developed and popularized along with a plethora of Flash memory card standards in 1994.
  • Pagers are initially popular but ultimately are replaced by mobile phones by the early-2000s.
  • Hand-held satellite phones are introduced towards the end of the decade.
  • The 24-hour news cycle becomes popular with the Gulf War between late 1990 and early 1991 and CNN's coverage of Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Though CNN had been running 24-hour newscasts since 1980, it was not until the Gulf War that the general public took notice, and others imitated CNN's non-stop news approach.[32]
  • Portable CD players, introduced during the late 1980s, became very popular and profoundly impacted the music industry and youth culture during the 1990s.

Software[edit]

Rail transportation[edit]

The opening of the Channel Tunnel between France and the United Kingdom saw the commencement by the three national railway companies of Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom, respectively SNCB/NMBS, SNCF and British Rail of the joint Eurostar service.

Eurostar logo 1994–2011
A pair of Eurostar trains at the former Waterloo International since moved to St Pancras International

On 14 November 1994 Eurostar services began between Waterloo International station in London, Gare du Nord in Paris and Brussels South in Brussels.[33][34][35] In 1995 Eurostar was achieving an average end-to-end speed of 171.5 km/h (106.6 mph) between London and Paris.[36] On 8 January 1996 Eurostar launched services from a second railway station in the UK when Ashford International was opened.[37] Journey times between London and Brussels were reduced by the opening of the High Speed 1 line on 14 December 1997.

Automobiles[edit]

The 1990s began with a recession that dampened car sales. General Motors suffered huge losses because of an inefficient structure, stale designs, and poor quality. Sales improved with the economy by the mid-1990s, but GM's US market share gradually declined to less than 40% (from a peak of 50% in the 1970s). While the new Saturn division fared well, Oldsmobile fell sharply, and attempts to remake the division as a European-style luxury car were unsuccessful.

Cars in the 1990s had a rounder, more streamlined shape than those from the 1970s and 1980s; this style would continue early into the 2000s and, to a lesser extent, later on.

Chrysler ran into financial troubles again as the 1990s started. Like GM, the company too had a stale model lineup (except for the best-selling minivans) that was largely based on the aging K-car platform. In 1992, chairman Lee Iacocca retired, and the company began a remarkable revival, introducing the new LH platform and "Cab-Forward" styling, along with a highly successful redesign of the full-sized Dodge Ram in 1994. Chrysler's minivans continued to dominate the market despite increasing competition. In 1998, Daimler-Benz (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz) merged with Chrysler. The following year, it was decided to retire Plymouth, which had been on a long decline since the 1970s. Ford continued to fare well in the 1990s, with the second and third generations of the Ford Taurus being named the best-selling car in the United States from 1992 to 1996. However, the Taurus would be outsold and dethroned by the Toyota Camry starting in 1997, which became the best-selling car in the United States for the rest of the decade and into the 2000s. Ford also introduced the Ford Explorer, 1991 being the first model year. Fords Explorer became the best-selling SUV on the market, outselling both the Chevy Blazer and Jeep Cherokee.

Japanese cars continued to be highly successful during the decade. The Honda Accord vied with the Taurus most years for being the best-selling car in the United States during the early decade. Although launched in 1989, the luxury brands Lexus and Infiniti began car sales of 1990 model year vehicles and saw great success. Lexus would go on to outsell Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the United States by 1991 and outsell Cadillac and Lincoln by the end of the decade. SUVs and trucks became hugely popular during the economic boom in the decade's second half. Many makes that had never built a truck before started selling SUVs. Car-styling during the 1990s became gradually rounder and ovoid, the Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable being some of the more extreme examples. Safety features such as airbags and shoulder belts became mandatory equipment on new cars.

Science[edit]

Dolly the sheep is the first mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell.

Environment[edit]

At the beginning of the decade, sustainable development and environmental protection became serious issues for governments and the international community. In 1987, the publication of the Brundtland Report by the United Nations paved the way to establish an environmental governance. In 1992 the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, in which several countries committed to protect the environment, signing a Convention on Biological Diversity.

The prevention of the destruction of the tropical rainforests of the world is a major environmental cause that first came into wide public concern in the early 1990s and has continued and accelerated.

The Chernobyl disaster had significant impact on public opinion at the end of the 1980s, and the fallout was still causing cancer deaths well into the 1990s and possibly even into the 21st century.[39] All along the 1990s, several environmental NGOs helped improve environmental awareness among public opinion and governments. The most famous of these organizations during this decade was Greenpeace, which did not hesitate to lead illegal actions in the name of environmental preservation. These organizations also drew attention to the large deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest during the period.

Global warming as an aspect of climate change also became a major concern, and the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) after the Earth Summit helped coordinate efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere. From 1995, the UNFCCC held annual summits on climate change, leading to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in December 1997, a binding agreement signed by several developed countries.[40]

Society[edit]

The 1990s represented continuing social liberalization in most countries, coupled with an increase in the influence of capitalism, which would continue until the Great Recession of the late 2000s/early 2010s.

Youth culture in the 1990s responded to this by embracing both environmentalism and entrepreneurship. Western world fashions reflected this by often turning highly individualistic and/or counter-cultural, which was influenced by Generation X and early millennials: tattoos and body piercing gained popularity, and "retro" styles inspired by fashions of the 1960s and 1970s were also prevalent. Some young people became increasingly involved in extreme sports and outdoor activities that combined embracing athletics with the appreciation of nature.

Those born from 1990 to 1996 are generally considered part of the Millennial Generation, along with those born in the 1980s, while those born from 1997 onward are often considered part of Generation Z, the post-Millennial generation.[41]

In 1990 the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of diseases.[42] Increasing acceptance of homosexuality occurred in the western world, slowly starting in the early 1990s.[43]

Third-wave feminism[edit]

Women's rights demonstration in Paris, November 1995

See also: Third-wave feminism

Additional significant worldwide events[edit]

  • Worldwide New Year's Eve celebrations on December 31, 1999, welcoming the year 2000.

Europe

North America

  • Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold kill 13 people and then themselves during the Columbine High School shooting in April 1999, which would inspire a number of future school shooters to commit similar offenses.
  • O. J. Simpson murder caseO. J. Simpson's trial, described in the American media as the "trial of the century", proceeds for nearly a year under intense media publicity. A majority of the trial was broadcast nightly during prime time television. On October 3, 1995, Simpson was found "not guilty" of the double-murder of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
  • With help from clinical fertility drugs, an Iowa mother, Bobbie McCaughey, gave birth to the first surviving septuplets in 1997. There followed a media frenzy and widespread support for the family.
  • John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette are killed when Kennedy's private plane crashes off the coast of Martha's Vineyard in July 1999.
  • Debate on assisted suicide, highly publicized by Michigan doctor Jack Kevorkian, charged with multiple counts of homicide of his terminally ill patients through the decade.
  • Beer keg registration becomes a popular public policy in the United States.
  • The 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' discovery of the Americas in 1992 was popularly observed in the United States, despite controversy and protests against the victimization of Native Americans by Columbus' expeditions. The holiday was labeled by some as racist, in view of Native American experiences of colonialism, slavery, genocide, and cultural destruction.
  • Matthew Shepard is murdered near the University of Wyoming for being gay. This sparks intense national and international media attention and outrage. He becomes a major symbol in the LGBT rights movement and the fight against homophobia.
  • Shanda Sharer was murdered on January 11, 1992. She was lured away from her house and held captive by a group of teenage girls. She was tortured for hours and burned alive. She died from smoke inhalation. Those that were found guilty and sentenced to prison were Melinda Loveless, Laurie Tackett, Hope Rippey, and Toni Lawrence. According to Melinda, she was jealous of her former partner Amanda Heavrin's relationship with Shanda Sharer.
  • Karla Homolka was arrested with her husband, Paul Bernardo, in 1993. Both sexually tortured and killed their victims. Their first victim was Karla's 15-year-old sister, Tammy Homolka. The second and third victims were Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. Karla told the investigators that she reluctantly did what Paul told her to do because he was abusive and was given a deal. She was sentenced to only 12 years in prison (10 years for Mahaffy and French, but only two years for Tammy). Later, investigators discovered the crime videotapes, proving that Karla was a willing participant. But by that time the deal had already been made. In 1995, Paul was sentenced to life in prison. Karla was released from prison in 2005.
  • Polly Klaas (January 3, 1981 – October 1993) was kidnapped by Richard Allen Davis from her home during a slumber party. She was later strangled to death. After her death, her father, Marc Klaas, established the KlaasKids Foundation.
  • Jonbenet Ramsey (August 6, 1990 – December 25, 1996) was a child beauty pageant contestant who was missing and found dead in her Boulder, Colorado, home. The crime terrified the nation and the world. Her parents were initially considered to be suspects in her death but were cleared in 2003 when DNA from her clothes was tested. To this day, her murderer has not been found and brought to justice.
  • Lorena Bobbitt was charged with malicious wounding for severing husband John Bobbitt's penis after she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Bobbitt, for which he was charged. Both parties were acquitted of their respective charges.
  • American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor John Denver died in a plane crash in Monterey Bay near Pacific Grove on October 12, 1997.
  • Scandal rocked the sport of figure skating when skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked during practice by an assailant hired by Jeff Gillooly, former husband of skater Tonya Harding. The attack was carried out in an attempt to injure Kerrigan's leg to the point of being unable to compete in the upcoming 1994 Winter Olympics, thereby securing Harding a better spot to win a gold medal.

Asia

Popular culture[edit]

Film[edit]

Dogme 95 became an important European artistic motion picture movement by the decade's end. Toy Story, the first full-length CGI movie, made by Pixar, was released in 1995 and revolutionized animated films. Pixar's parent company, Disney, was living through the "Disney Renaissance", both as animated theatrical films and as animated television series on the Disney Channel. The "Disney Renaissance" began with The Little Mermaid in 1989 and ended with Tarzan in 1999. The 90s cartoons are sometimes called the "Renaissance Age of Animation" for cartoons in general and Disney Channel's two main rivals were Nickelodeon, owned by Viacom and Cartoon Network owned by Warner Brothers. These three channels are the "Big Three", of children's entertainment, even today, but especially during the 1990s. In 1998, with the release of DreamWorks's Antz and Pixar's A Bug's Life, the rivalry between DreamWorks and Pixar began between the studios due to the similarities between both films. Also in 1998, Titanic (released in late 1997) became the highest-grossing film of all time, grossing over $1.8 billion worldwide. It would hold this record for over a decade until 2010 when director James Cameron had another one of his films, Avatar (released in late 2009), take the title.[46]

Family animated feature films began to gain popularity during the decade through the late-1990s (1997, 1998, and 1999) were more known. Don Bluth's animation studio released a number of underperforming family animated films such as Rock-a-Doodle, Thumbelina and The Pebble and the Penguin and closed down in 1995. In 1994 former Disney employee Jeffrey Katzenberg founded DreamWorks SKG, which would produce its first two animated films: The Prince of Egypt and Antz which were both aimed more at adults than children and were both critical and commercially successful. Meanwhile, films by Walt Disney Feature Animation became popular once more when the studio returned to making family traditionally animated musical classic films; the most notable films were Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Lion King. Other significant animated films have also gained cult status such as The Jetsons Movie, The Princess and the Goblin, Happily Ever After, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, Tom and Jerry: The Movie, The Thief and the Cobbler, Once Upon a Forest, We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Felidae, The Swan Princess, Balto, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America, Cats Don't Dance, Anastasia, Quest for Camelot, The Rugrats Movie, Kirikou and the Sorceress, The King and I, South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut and The Iron Giant.

Live-action films featuring computer-animated characters became popular with films such as Casper, James and the Giant Peach, 101 Dalmatians, Men in Black, Small Soldiers and Stuart Little, although live-action/traditional cel animated film featuring traditional characters like Cool World, The Pagemaster and Space Jam were also prevalent.

Japanese anime films continued in the 1990s as Studio Ghibli's continued to dominate with films such as Only Yesterday, Porco Rosso, Pom Poko, Whisper of the Heart, Princess Mononoke (which became the highest-grossing anime film at the time) and My Neighbors the Yamadas. Other significant anime films which gained cult status include Roujin Z, Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama, Patlabor 2: The Movie, Ninja Scroll, Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie, Ghost in the Shell, Memories, The End of Evangelion, Perfect Blue, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, and the Pokémon film series which started with the first two entries Pokémon: The First Movie and Pokémon: The Movie 2000.

Award winners[edit]

Award 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999
Academy Award for Best Picture winners Dances with Wolves[47] The Silence of the Lambs[48] Unforgiven[49] Schindler's List[50] Forrest Gump[51] Braveheart[52] The English Patient[53] Titanic[54] Shakespeare in Love[55] American Beauty[56]
Palme d'Or winners at the Cannes Film Festival Wild at Heart[57] Barton Fink[58] The Best Intentions[59] Farewell My Concubine and The Piano[60] Pulp Fiction[61] Underground[62] Secrets & Lies[63] Taste of Cherry and The Eel[64] Eternity and a Day[65] Rosetta[66]
César Award for Best Film winners Cyrano de Bergerac Tous les matin du monde Savage Nights Smoking/No Smoking Wild Reeds La haine Ridicule Same Old Song The Dreamlife of Angels Venus Beauty Institute
Golden Lion winners at the Venice Film Festival Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead Close to Eden The Story of Qiu Ju Short Cuts and Three Colours: Blue Vive L'Amour and Before the Rain Cyclo Michael Collins Fireworks The Way We Laughed Not One Less

Highest-grossing[edit]

The 25 highest-grossing films of the decade are:[67]

Films by worldwide box office
No. Title Year Box office
1 Titanic 1997 $1,850,197,130
2 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace 1999 $924,305,084
3 Jurassic Park 1993 $912,667,947
4 Independence Day 1996 $817,400,891
5 The Lion King 1994 $763,455,561
6 Forrest Gump 1994 $677,387,716
7 The Sixth Sense 1999 $672,806,292
8 The Lost World: Jurassic Park 1997 $618,638,999
9 Men in Black 1997 $589,390,539
10 Armageddon 1998 $553,709,788
11 Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991 $516,950,043
12 Ghost 1990 $505,702,588
13 Aladdin 1992 $504,050,219
14 Twister 1996 $494,471,524
15 Toy Story 2 1999 $487,059,677
16 Saving Private Ryan 1998 $481,840,909
17 Home Alone 1990 $476,684,675
18 The Matrix 1999 $463,517,383
19 Pretty Woman 1990 $463,406,268
20 Mission: Impossible 1996 $457,696,391
21 Tarzan 1999 $448,191,819
22 Mrs. Doubtfire 1993 $441,286,195
23 Dances with Wolves 1990 $424,208,848
24 The Mummy 1999 $415,933,406
25 The Bodyguard 1992 $410,945,720

Music[edit]

Whitney
Mariah
Whitney Houston (left) and Mariah Carey were two of the highest-selling musical artists of the decade, pictured here in '91 and '98, respectively.

The 1990s were a decade that saw marketing become more segmented, as MTV gradually shifted away from music videos and radio splintered into narrower formats aimed at various niches.[68][69][70][71] However, the 1990s are perhaps best known for grunge, gangsta rap, R&B, teen pop; Eurodance, electronic dance music, the renewed popularity of punk rock from the band Green Day (which would also help create a new genre pop punk), and for the entrance of alternative rock into the mainstream. U2 was one of the most popular 1990s bands; their groundbreaking Zoo TV and PopMart tours were the top-selling tours of 1992 and 1997. Glam metal died out in the music mainstream by 1991.[72] Grunge became popular in the early 1990s due to the success of Nirvana's Nevermind, Pearl Jam's Ten, Alice in Chains' Dirt, Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger and Stone Temple Pilots' Core.[73] Pop punk also becomes popular with such artists as Green Day, Blink-182, Weezer, Social Distortion, the Offspring, Bad Religion, NOFX and Rancid.[74] Other successful alternative acts included Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., Nickelback, Creed, Radiohead, Gin Blossoms, Soul Asylum, Third Eye Blind, Faith No More, the Smashing Pumpkins, Live, Everclear, Bush, Screaming Trees and Ween.[75]

Tupac
Biggie
Graffiti murals of Tupac Shakur (left) and The Notorious B.I.G., two significant cultural figures throughout the 1990s who helped popularize the genre of gangsta rap.

Dr. Dre's 1992 album The Chronic provided a template for modern gangsta rap, and gave rise to other emerging artists of the genre, including Snoop Dogg.[76] Due to the success of Death Row Records and Tupac Shakur, West Coast gangsta rap commercially dominated hip hop during the early-to-mid 1990s, along with Bad Boy Records and the Notorious B.I.G. on the East Coast.[77] Hip hop became the best-selling music genre by the mid-1990s.[78][79]

In the United Kingdom, the alternative rock Britpop genre emerged as part of the more general Cool Britannia culture, with Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Suede, Supergrass and Elastica. The impact of boy band pop sensation Take That lead to the formation of other boy bands in the UK and Ireland, such as East 17 and Boyzone. Female pop icons Spice Girls took the world by storm, becoming the most commercially successful British group since the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.[80][81] Also, R&B has Des'Ree, Mark Morrison and Sade. Their global success brought about a widespread scene of teen pop acts around the world[82][83] such as All Saints, Backstreet Boys, Hanson, NSYNC, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera who came to prominence into the new millennium.[84] 1991 also saw the death of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury from AIDS-related pneumonia.

Spice Girls, pictured here in 1997, became one of the biggest global pop acts of the decade.

Many musicians from Canada (Snow, Celine Dion, The Barenaked Ladies, Shania Twain, Len, Sarah McLachlan, and Alanis Morissette) became known worldwide.

Contemporary R&B and quiet storm continued in popularity among adult audiences, which began during the 1980s. Popular African-American contemporary R&B artists included Mariah Carey, D'Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, Brandy, En Vogue, TLC, Destiny's Child, Toni Braxton, Boyz II Men, Dru Hill and Vanessa Williams.

The Tibetan Freedom Concert brought 120,000 people together in the interest of increased human rights and autonomy for Tibet from China. Freddie Mercury, Kurt Cobain, Selena, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. were the most publicized music-related deaths of the decade, in 1991, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997 respectively.

Richey Edwards of Manic Street Preachers was publicized in the media in 1991 following an incident involving Steve Lamacq backstage after a live show, in which Edwards carved '4 Real' into his arm. Edwards disappeared in 1995, which was highly publicized. He is still missing but was presumed dead in 2008.

Controversy surrounded the Prodigy with the release of the track "Smack My Bitch Up". The National Organization for Women (NOW) claimed that the track was "advocating violence against women" due to the lyrics of that song. The music video (directed by Jonas Åkerlund) featured a first-person POV of someone going clubbing, indulging in drugs and alcohol, getting into fist fights, abusing women and picking up a prostitute. At the end of the video, the camera pans over to a mirror, revealing the subject to be a woman.

Blink-182 performing in 1995.

1994 became a breakthrough year for punk rock in California, with the success of bands like Bad Religion, Social Distortion, Blink-182, Green Day, the Offspring, Rancid and similar groups following. This success would continue to grow over the next decade, the 2000s. The 1990s also became the most important decade for ska punk/reggae rock, with the success of many bands like Smash Mouth, Buck-O-Nine, Goldfinger, Less Than Jake, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Murphy's Law, No Doubt, Reel Big Fish, Save Ferris, Sublime and Sugar Ray.

The rave movement that emerged in the late 1980s rose. Rave spawned genres such as Intelligent dance music and Drum and bass. The latter is an offshoot of jungle techno and breakbeat. Popular artists included Moby, Fatboy Slim, Björk, Aphex Twin, Orbital, the Orb, the Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, Todd Terry, 808 State, Primal Scream, the Shamen, the KLF and the Prodigy.

The rise of industrial music, somewhat a fusion of synthpop and heavy metal, rose to worldwide popularity with bands like Godflesh, Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, Ministry and Marilyn Manson. Groove metal was born through the efforts of Pantera, whose seventh studio album Far Beyond Driven (1994) was notable for going number one on Billboard 200. Another heavy metal sub-genre called nu metal, which mixed metal with hip hop influences, becomes popular with bands like Korn, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit, selling millions of albums worldwide. Metallica's 1991 eponymous album Metallica is the best-selling album of the SoundScan era, while extreme metal acts such as Death, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor, Cannibal Corpse and others experienced popularity throughout the decade.

In the 1990s, country music became a worldwide phenomenon thanks to Billy Ray Cyrus, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks.[85][86][87] The latter enjoyed one of the most successful careers in popular music history, breaking records for both sales and concert attendance throughout the decade. The RIAA has certified his recordings at a combined (128× platinum), denoting roughly 113 million United States shipments.[88] Other artists that experienced success during this time included Clint Black, Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin, Travis Tritt, Suzy Bogguss, Alan Jackson, Lorrie Morgan and the newly formed duo of Brooks & Dunn; George Strait, whose career began in the 1980s, also continued to have widespread success in this decade and beyond. Female artists such as Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Deana Carter, LeAnn Rimes and Mary Chapin Carpenter all released platinum-selling albums in the 1990s. The Dixie Chicks became one of the most popular country bands in the 1990s and early 2000s. Their 1998 debut album Wide Open Spaces went on to become certified 12× platinum, while their 1999 album Fly went on to become 10× platinum.

Television[edit]

Seinfeld premiered on NBC in 1989, becoming a commercial success and cultural phenomenon by 1993.

TV shows, mostly sitcoms, were popular with American audiences. Series such as Roseanne, Coach, Empty Nest, Mr. Belvedere, 227, Cheers, The Cosby Show, Growing Pains, Night Court, The Hogan Family, A Different World, Amen, ALF, Perfect Strangers, Family Matters, Charles in Charge, Saved by the Bell, My Two Dads, Newhart, Dear John, Designing Women, The Golden Girls, Who's the Boss?, Head of the Class, and Seinfeld, which premiered in the eighties, and Frasier, a spin-off of the 1980s hit Cheers were viewed throughout the 1990s. These sitcoms, along with Friends, That '70s Show, Ellen, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Full House, Nurses, Murphy Brown, The Wonder Years, Living Single, Step by Step, NewsRadio, Blossom, The King of Queens, Major Dad, Fired Up, Jesse, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, For Your Love, The Steve Harvey Show, The Larry Sanders Show, Sex and the City, Arliss, Dream On, Grace Under Fire, Mad About You, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, The Naked Truth, The Jeff Foxworthy Show, The Jamie Foxx Show, Smart Guy, The Wayans Bros., Malcolm & Eddie, Clueless, Moesha, The Parent 'Hood, Unhappily Ever After, Roc, Martin, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, In Living Color, Sister, Sister, Boy Meets World, Ned and Stacey, Becker, Veronica's Closet, Two Guys and a Girl, The Drew Carey Show, Wings, The John Larroquette Show, Caroline in the City, Sports Night, Home Improvement, Will & Grace, Married... with Children, Evening Shade, Cosby, Spin City, The Nanny, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Suddenly Susan, Cybill, Just Shoot Me!, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Dharma and Greg turned TV in new directions and defined the humor of the decade. Furthermore, Saturday Night Live experienced a new era of success during the 1990s, launching the careers of popular comedians and actors such as Chris Farley, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Molly Shannon, Mike Myers, Chris Rock, Norm McDonald, David Spade, Cheri Oteri and others.

Friends, which premiered on NBC in 1994 became one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. From left, clockwise: Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer, the six main actors of Friends.

In 1993, one of the last westerns to air on television was Walker, Texas Ranger, a crime drama starring Chuck Norris as the title character. Lasting for nine seasons, the show tackled a wide variety of subjects and was one of few shows to perform karate.

1993 also saw its debut of the medicalmystery drama, Diagnosis Murder, a comeback vehicle for Dick Van Dyke, who guest-starred on an episode of its sequel, Jake and The Fatman, where the show got off to a rocky start and became one of television's long-running mysteries, that lasted until its cancellation in 2001.

Medical dramas started to come into television in the 1990s. One show stood out as a critical and rating success for NBC. In 1994, ER, which starred Anthony Edwards, Noah Wyle and George Clooney, was a domestic and international success, lasting until 2009 and spawning series such as Grey's Anatomy (2005–present). It made NBC the most-watched channel in the United States. This show launched the career of George Clooney. That same year, Chicago Hope, that starred Héctor Elizondo, Mandy Patinkin and Adam Arkin, was also a popular series for CBS, lasting between 1994 and 2000.

Beverly Hills, 90210 ran on Fox from 1990 to 2000. It established the teen soap genre, paving the way for Dawson's Creek, Felicity, Party of Five, and other shows airing later in the decade. The show was then remade and renamed simply 90210 and premiered in 2008. Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off Melrose Place also became a popular TV show throughout the 1990s. Baywatch became the most-watched TV show in history and influenced pop culture.

Sex and the City's portrayal of relationships and sexuality caused controversy and acclaim, leading to a new generation of sexually progressive television shows in the 2000s.

Fantasy and science fiction shows were popular on television, with NBC airing seaQuest DSV beginning in 1993, which made Jonathan Brandis a popular teen idol, but was cancelled after three seasons. The 1990s saw a multitude of Star Trek content: in 1993, following the success of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Paramount released the follow up shows Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999), starring Avery Brooks, and Star Trek: Voyager (1995–2001), starring Kate Mulgrew. Touched By an Angel, broadcast by CBS in 1994, was intended as the comeback vehicle of Della Reese, and also launched the career of Roma Downey. It wasn't an immediate hit and was cancelled, but it was revived the following year due to a fan letter-writing campaign, which ran for eight more seasons. At the end of the decade, the fantasy drama series Charmed gained a cult following and helped popularize the WB.

Crime drama and police detective shows returned to the spotlight after soap operas died down. After the successful debuts of Law & Order, NYPD Blue, Homicide: Life on the Street, Fox debuted New York Undercover, which starred Malik Yoba and Micheal DeLorenzo is notable for featuring two people of color in the main roles. Nash Bridges, a comeback vehicle for Don Johnson, lasting six seasons (1996–2001) which dealt with escapist entertainment instead of tackling social issues.[89]

Reality television began on MTV; this would grow in importance in the Western world into the next decade.

During the mid-1990s, two of the biggest professional wrestling companies: World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Federation were in a rating battle that was called the Monday Night Wars (1995–2001). Each company fought to draw more viewers to their respective Monday night wrestling show. The "War" ended in 2001 when WWE bought WCW. In November 2001, there was a Winner Takes All match with both companies in a Pay-Per-View called Survivor Series. WWF won the match, putting an end to WCW.

An animated sitcom, The Simpsons, premiered on Fox in December 1989 and became a domestic and international success in the 1990s. The show has aired more than 600 episodes and has become an institution of pop culture. In addition, it has spawned the adult-oriented animated sitcom genre, inspiring more adult-oriented animated shows such as Beavis and Butt-Head (1993–1997), Daria (1997–2001), along with South Park and Family Guy, the latter two of which began in 1997 and 1999 respectively and continue to air new episodes through the 2000s and into the 2020s.

Japanese anime was popular in the 1980s and expanded to a worldwide audience by the 1990s for its expansive spectrum of story subjects and themes not limited to comedy and superhero action found in the US. It featured well-produced, well-written, visual, and story content that came to showcase animation's potential for emotional and intellectual depth and integrity on par with live action media to its viewers. Anime expanded to older and adult ages in the medium of animation. TV shows such as Sailor Moon, Digimon, Pokémon, Tenchi Muyo!, Detective Conan, Dragon Ball Z, Gundam Wing, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ranma ½, Yu Yu Hakusho, Slayers, Rurouni Kenshin, Initial D, Gunsmith Cats, Outlaw Star, to anime movies such as Akira, Vampire Hunter D, My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky, The Castle of Cagliostro, and imports by various distributors such as Viz, AnimEigo, Central Park Media, A.D. Vision, Pioneer Entertainment, Media Blasters, Manga Entertainment, and Celebrity, helped begin the mid to late 1990s and turn of the millennium introductory anime craze in the US, and the Cartoon Network anime block Toonami in 1997.

American animated children's programs went through a renaissance during the decade, with studios producing many critically acclaimed shows. Specifically, Warner Bros-animated shows like Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and the start of the DC Animated Universe with shows such as Batman: The Animated Series, and Superman: The Animated Series, as well as syndicated shows like Phantom 2040. Nickelodeon's first three animated series (Doug, Rugrats, The Ren & Stimpy Show) all premiered in 1991. 1993 saw the debut of children's live-action series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which became a pop culture phenomenon along with a line of action figures and other toys by merchandise manufacturer Bandai. This can also be said for the British pre-school series Teletubbies, which was a massive hit loved by very young children. The late 1990s also saw the evolution of a new TV genre: primetime game shows, popularized by the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, hosted originally by Chris Tarrant on ITV and Regis Philbin on ABC, as well as other first-run game shows aired in prime time on the newly launched Game Show Network.

Fashion and body modification[edit]

Grunge-style flannel shirt and curtained hair
Will Smith donning a Hi-top fade in 1993

Significant fashion trends of the 1990s include:

  • Earth and jewel tones, as well as an array of minimalist style and design influences, characterize the 1990s, a stark contrast to the camp and bombast seen in the brightly colored fashion and design trends of the 1980s.
  • The Rachel, Jennifer Aniston's hairstyle on the hit TV show Friends, became a cultural phenomenon with millions of women copying it worldwide.
  • The Hi-top fade was trendy among African-Americans in the early 1990s.
  • The Curtained Haircut increased in popularity in fashion and culture among teenage boys and young men in the 1990s, mainly after it was popularized in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day by the actor Edward Furlong.
  • The model 1300 Wonderbra style has a resurgence of popularity in Europe in 1992, which kicks off an international media sensation, the 1994 return of "The Wonderbra" brand, and a spike in the push-up, plunge bras around the world.
  • Additional fashion trends of the 1990s include the Tamagotchi, Rollerblades, Pogs and Dr. Martens shoes.
  • Bleached blond hair became very popular in the late 1990s, as were men with short hair with the bangs "flipped up."
  • The 1990s also saw the return of the 1970s teenage female fashion with long, straight hair and denim hot pants.
  • Beverly Hills, 90210 sideburns also became popular in the early and mid-1990s.
  • Slap bracelets were a popular fad among children, preteens, and teenagers in the early 1990s and were available in a wide variety of patterns and colors. Also popular among children were light-up sneakers, jelly shoes, and shoelace hair clips.
  • The Grunge hype at the beginning of the decade popularized flannel shirts among both genders during the 1990s.
  • Grunge- and hip-hop-inspired anti-fashion saw an expansion of the slouchy, casual styles of past decades, mostly seen in baggy and distressed jeans, cargo shorts and pants, baseball caps (often worn backward), chunky sneakers, over-sized sweatshirts, and loose-fitting tees with grandiloquent graphics and logos.
  • Y2K fashion became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as the new millennium began. This was marked by darker, slinkier, and more futuristic-looking clothing in the late 1990s.
  • Tattoos and piercings became part of the mainstream aesthetic. American model Christy Turlington revealed her belly button piercing at a fashion show in London in 1993. In the late 1990s, some females got lower back tattoos and men opted for tribal style arm bands or back pieces.

Video games[edit]

Video game consoles released in this decade included the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Neo Geo, Atari Jaguar, 3DO, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast. Portable video game consoles included Game Gear, Atari Lynx and Game Boy Color. Super Mario World was the decade's best-selling home console video game, while Pokémon Red and Blue was the decade's best-selling portable video game; Super Mario 64 was the decade's best-selling fifth-generation video game, while Street Fighter II was the decade's highest-grossing arcade video game.

Mario as Nintendo's mascot finds a rival in Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog with the release of Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis in 1991. Sonic the Hedgehog would go on to become one of the most successful video game franchises of the decade and of all time.

Notable video games of the 1990s include: Super Metroid, Metal Gear Solid, Super Mario World, Doom, Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong 64, Pokémon Red and Blue Versions, Pokémon Yellow Version, GoldenEye 007, Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Gran Turismo, Mario Kart 64, Half-Life, Super Mario Kart, Radiant Silvergun, Rayman, Gunstar Heroes, Banjo-Kazooie, Soulcalibur, Star Fox series, Tomb Raider series, Final Fantasy, Sonic the Hedgehog series, Story of Seasons series, Tony Hawk's series, Crash Bandicoot series, Metal Slug series, Resident Evil series, Street Fighter II, Spyro the Dragon series, Commander Keen series, Test Drive series, Dance Dance Revolution series, Monkey Island series, Dune series, Mortal Kombat series, Warcraft series, Duke Nukem 3D, Tekken series, EarthBound, Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game, and StarCraft.

Sony's PlayStation becomes the top-selling game console and changes the standard media storage type from cartridges to compact discs in home consoles. Crash Bandicoot is released on September 9, 1996, becoming one of the most successful platforming series for the Sony PlayStation. Spyro The Dragon, released on September 9, 1998, also became a successful platforming series. Tomb Raider's Lara Croft became a video game sex symbol, becoming one of the most recognizable figures in the entertainment industry throughout the late 1990s.

3D graphics become the standard by the decade's end. Although FPS games had long since seen the transition to full 3D, other genres began to copy this trend by the end of the decade. The most notable first shooter games in the 1990s are GoldenEye 007 and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six.

The console wars, primarily between Sega (Mega Drive, marketed as the Sega Genesis in North America, introduced in 1988) and Nintendo (Super NES, introduced in 1990), sees the entrance of Sony with the PlayStation in 1994, which becomes the first successful CD-based console (as opposed to cartridges). By the end of the decade, Sega's hold on the market becomes tenuous after the end of the Saturn in 1999 and the Dreamcast in 2002.

Arcade games rapidly decreased in popularity, mainly due to dominance by handheld and home consoles.[90]

Fighting games like Capcom's Street Fighter II, Sega's Virtua Fighter, and Midway's Mortal Kombat (known for being extremely violent) prompted the video game industry to accept a game rating system. Hundreds of knockoffs are widely popular in the mid-to-late 1990s. Doom (1993) bursts onto the world scene, and instantly popularizes the FPS genre. Half-Life (1998) builds upon this, using gameplay without levels and an immersive first-person perspective. Half-Life became one of the most popular FPS games in history.

The real-time strategy (RTS) genre is introduced in 1992 with the release of Dune II. Warcraft: Orcs & Humans (1994) popularizing the genre, and Command & Conquer and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness in 1995, setting up the first major real-time strategy competition and popularizing multiplayer capabilities in RTS games. StarCraft in 1998 becomes the second best-selling computer game of all time. It remains among the most popular multiplayer RTS games today, especially in South Korea. Homeworld in 1999 becomes the first successful 3D RTS game. The rise of the RTS genre is often credited with the fall of the turn-based strategy (TBS) genre, popularized with Civilization in 1991. Final Fantasy was introduced (in North America) in 1990 for the NES and remains among the most popular video game franchises, with many new titles to date and more in development, plus numerous spin-offs, sequels, films and related titles. Final Fantasy VII, released in 1997, especially popularized the series.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) see their entrance into the computer game world with Ultima Online in 1997. However, they never gained widespread popularity until EverQuest and Asheron's Call in 1999. MMORPGs become among the most popular video game genres until the 2010s.

Pokémon enters the world scene with the release of the original Game Boy Pokémon Red and Pokémon Green games in Japan in 1996, later changed to Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue for worldwide release in 1998. It soon becomes popular in the United States and Canada, creating the term Pokémonia and is adapted into a popular anime series and trading card game, among other media forms.

Resident Evil is released in 1996. It will become the most popular survival-horror series in video gaming into the next decades.

The best-selling games of the 1990s are listed below (note that some sources disagree on particular years):

Internet[edit]

Prominent websites launched during the decade include IMDb (1993), eBay (1995), Amazon (1994), GeoCities (1994), Netscape (1994), Yahoo! (1995), AltaVista (1995), AIM (1997), ICQ (1996), Hotmail (1996), Google (1998), Napster (1999). The pioneering peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing internet service Napster, which launched in Fall 1999, was the first peer-to-peer software to become massively popular. While at the time it was possible to share files in other ways via the Internet (such as IRC and USENET), Napster was the first software to focus exclusively on sharing MP3 files for music. Napster was eventually forced to shut down in July 2001 after legal disputes over copyright infringement and digital piracy.

Architecture[edit]

Sports[edit]

Michael Jordan, the most popular NBA player of the 1990s.

Literature[edit]

People[edit]

Actors & Entertainers[edit]

[96][97]

Athletes[edit]

Musicians[edit]

See also[edit]

Timeline[edit]

The following articles contain timelines that list the most prominent events of the decade:

1990199119921993199419951996199719981999

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

  • Ash, Timothy Garton. History of the Present: Essays, Sketches, and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s (2009) excerpts
  • Bender, Thomas. "'Venturesome and Cautious': American History in the 1990s." Journal of American History (1994): 992–1003. in JSTOR
  • Bentley, Nick, ed. British Fiction of the 1990s (Routledge, 2007).
  • Berman, Milton. The Nineties in America (2009).
  • Brügger, Niels, ed, Web25: Histories from the first 25 years of the World Wide Web (Peter Lang, 2017).
  • Cornia, Giovanni Andrea, Ralph van der Hoeven, and Thandika Mkandawire. Africa's recovery in the 1990s: from stagnation and adjustment to human development (St. Martin's Press, 1992)
  • Harrison, Thomas (2011). Music of the 1990s. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313379437.
  • O'Neill, William. A Bubble in Time: America During the Interwar Years, 1989-2001 (2009) Excerpt, popular history
  • Parratt, Catriona M. "About Turns: Reflecting on Sport History in the 1990s." Sport History Review (1998) 29#1 pp: 4–17.
  • Rubin, Robert, and Jacob Weisberg. In an uncertain world: tough choices from Wall Street to Washington (2015), economic history.
  • Sierz, Aleks. Modern British Playwriting: The 1990s: Voices, Documents, New Interpretations (A&C Black, 2012)
  • Stiglitz, Joseph E. The roaring nineties: A new history of the world's most prosperous decade (Norton, 2004), economic history
  • Turner, Alwyn. A Classless Society: Britain in the 1990s Aurum Press (2013)
  • van der Hoeven, Arno. "Remembering the popular music of the 1990s: dance music and the cultural meanings of decade-based nostalgia." International Journal of heritage studies (2014) 20#3 pp: 316–330.
  • Yoda, Tomiko, and Harry Harootunian, eds. Japan After Japan: Social and Cultural Life from the Recessionary 1990s to the Present (2006)

External links[edit]

  • Media related to 1990s at Wikimedia Commons