1989 - The year that changed the world

3D render of the Earth focused on South East Asia. A blue glowing dashed line emanates from behind the horizon and curves around the planet.

Categories: Technology

11 March 2014


We know that in 1989 Sir Tim Berners-Lee committed his ideas to paper and introduced the World Wide Web for the very first time, creating one of the most important technologies the world has ever seen. That was 25 years ago. What did the world look like then and what else happened?

When the World Wide Web was invented, the world was emerging from the Cold War and had banned environmentally harmful CFCs. In 1989, 'When Harry met Sally' and the album, 'Doolittle' by the Pixies were released. We were gearing up to the turn of the millennium and reflecting on the events of the 20th century. In 2014, as we celebrate the anniversary of the World Wide Web, we can think about how much the world has changed and how much it will continue to develop.

On 13 March 1989, Jason Donovan - 'Too Many Broken Hearts' - was top of the music charts in the UK. In the USA it was 'Lost in your Eyes' by Debbie Gibson. Not feeling inspired? Well, it was also the year that gave us, amongst many other timeless classics: Madonna - 'Like a Prayer', 'Phil Collins - 'Another Day in Paradise and The B52s - 'Love Shack'.

In 1989, the films 'The Little Mermaid', 'Dead Poets Society', 'Batman', 'Weekend at Bernie's', 'Back to the Future Part 2' and 'Ghostbusters 2' were released, spawning or reinforcing a countless number of cult followings. Also in 1989, the ageless cartoon 'The Simpsons' aired for the first time, as did hit American sitcom, 'Seinfeld'.

In world history, 1989 was crucial. Nelson Mandela was still in jail as F.W de Klerk became the last President of the apartheid era in South Africa. He put in motion the dismantling of the apartheid system. The Berlin Wall came down as the world watched, bringing an end to the enforced division of Germany's most important city and profoundly altering the politics of Europe. Russia, at that time, was still called the USSR. The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in the same year as the 'Tank Man', an anonymous protester, was photographed standing in front of a column of tanks after the Chinese military suppressed an uprising at Tiananmen Square. In 1989, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and George Bush Senior replaced Ronald Reagan as President of the United States of America.

In sports, this was the year that Michael Jordan hit 'The Shot', arguably one of the greatest game-winning moments in the history of basketball. It seems 1989 was a year of last-gasp thrillers as Arsenal won the Premier League in the final minute of the UK's football season. Needing to win by a clear two-goal margin, midfielder Michael Thomas scored as the final loomed, winning the title for the North London football team.

Germany dominated at Wimbledon with wins for Boris Becker and Steffi Graf. India's Little Master, Sachin Tendulkar, made his Cricket test debut igniting a remarkable career. And if that's not enough, in 1989, the first Gameboy was released.

Take a look at these great links to other websites featuring the World Wide Web and the world in 1989: Time Magazine, Guardian Technology, IMDB film in 1989, Information Week, Business Insider, Telegraph, The Drum infographic, Motherboard - surfing the web in 1989.

Please let us know @QEPrize what else you think should go in this list!

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