What do the Internet, the Simpsons, and Nelson Mandela Have in Common?

1990—that’s what. 

It’s hard to believe, but the Internet we know and love—the great World Wide Web—was born twenty-four years ago. It brought with it not only a Pandora’s box of mayhem, absurdity, beauty, not to mention the democratization of knowledge, but also the need for our entire industry and the concept of search engine optimization.

Wrapped up in the nostalgia of these last twenty-four years, we couldn’t help but look back and remember what else happened in 1990, the year of the Internet.

that's so 90s

Slap that glow-in-the-dark slap bracelet on your wrist, pump up the volume on your Walkman, and get ready to do the Carlton as we shimmy our way back into the past through these 1990 milestones!


Home Alone and Ghost both premiered in 1990, with Ghost actually reigning as the highest grossing film that year. Come on. Look at these posters. Which one would you put your money on?

1990 movie posters These two movies were instant classics, and have been parodied countless times in just about every artistic medium ever since.  The Hollywood antics that ensue from flagrant child neglect  and late-night undead pottery sessions just never get old.

Something else that continues to touch our hearts after all these years? Muppets.

Jim Henson passed away unexpectedly from pneumonia on May 16th, 1990, but the Muppets have carried on brightening the lives of kids (and adults) around the world for the past two and a half decades. This moving Muppet tribute below aired later that year:


hammer pantsRegardless of what was topping the charts for real in 1990 (sorry Sinead O’Connor and Michael Bolton), we want to point out that U Can’t Touch This topped off at #8 that year. A foreshadowing of the chat-speak to come and recent resurgence of Hammer pants? Had to be.

The Grammy Awards were also laced with controversy that year after Milli Vanilli was awarded with a Grammy for Best New Artist. In retrospect, now that most pop artists are auto-tuned and there’s no shortage in lip syncing slip-ups on stage, would it be that big of a deal anymore? If mixing software is essentially eligible for a Grammy these days, shouldn’t two attractive men who have never sung on stage in their lives (don’t answer that)?


1990 was a banner year for TV comedy. The Simpsons and Seinfeld began airing in 1990, and honestly, we’re not sure if The Simpsons will ever stop.

the simpsons

The Simpsons is now the longest-running American TV show. That’s right—of all time. It’s also doubtless inspired the growth of the adult animated sitcom, which, twenty-five years ago would have been pretty hard to imagine.  Phrases like “D’oh” and “eat my shorts,” for better or worse, are a part of our cultural lexicon now—it’s about as American as you get.


Probably ready to have its quarter-life crisis, the Hubble Space Telescope, which sent its very first photograph from space in 1990 has finally made it out of our little solar system and is still finding life beyond. Pluto might have been downgraded from planet-status, but the Hubble is still here to tell us there’s even more out there.

nelson mandela

In 1990, Nelson Mandela was also released from a South African prison after twenty-seven years behind bars. Some of his first public words upon being released were: “we have waited too long for our freedom,” words that rang true for both himself, and for an apartheid South Africa.

Just weeks before the start of the year, the Berlin Wall went down—at least symbolically, the actual, physical teardown took a fair amount of time—and just a few months later, in March of 1990, East Germany had its first free election. Pink Floyd’s “Wall” performance also took place that summer where the wall had stood eight months earlier.


The World Wide Web, as we said earlier, was born! Hallelujah, amen! Of course, it was a few years before even early adopters got into web surfing or creating their own sites via Angelfire or Geocities, but a ton was happening behind the scenes to mold the Internet into something a little closer to what we recognize today.

Want to see how search engines evolved over the past two decades and how that has fundamentally changed how businesses reach their customers? We’ve got all twenty-four years down in just four minutes in the video below!