In the lead up to the turn of the century, our dependency on advancing technology for education, work, entertainment and socialisation was higher than ever. Not only was our personal ability to use technology on a basic level becoming a fundamental part of everyday life and an essential skill in the workplace, our culture was seeing great increases in the quality of technology being developed. This showed through advances in many aspects of life. Communication and finding information were made easier through advanced technologies such as the mobile phone and public access to the Internet and entertainment was at its highest quality yet through advances in special effects and digital technology for filmmaking.
The mobile phone, invented in the 70s, available for public sale in the 80s and finally converted to digital technology in the 90s, became a huge part of life. At the beginning of the 90s it featured a 30-minute battery life, analogue technology, a price tag of around $4,000 and a size and weight similar to that of a brick. By the middle of the decade, mobile phones were an essential part of life and people without them were significantly isolated from social interactions among a community. As mobile phones began being converted to digital technology, they became the most popular form of communication. 1996 was a big year for the development of the mobile phone. Motorola StarTAC, one of the first phones with a display screen and the first “flip phone”, was released. After the first Matrix movie was released, the Nokia 8110 became the popular release in the same year. At the end of 1996, the first smartphone was released. The Nokia 9000 Communicator had 8MB of memory, 6 of which were used for apps and the functioning of the phone and 2 were allocated to user data. Today, 2MB of memory would not hold the average 2 minute mp3 song.
Communication wasn’t the only aspect of technology that was advancing. Entertainment among young people had become hugely involved with console gaming and popular culture. The decade began in the middle of what is known as the fourth generation of console gaming. This included 16bit resolution, multi buttoned controllers and vibrant colours. As the decade progressed, the popular fourth generation consoles such as the Mega Drive and Super Nintendo Entertainment System decreased in popularity, making way for fifth generation in video game consoles. These included the first Play Station and the Nintendo 64. This was also the point in which hand-held consoles grew in popularity. The favourite among youth in the 90s was the Nintendo Game Boy series. This was a series of hand held consoles with a range of compatible games including the “Pokémon” series. In February of 1996, the first Pokémon game was released in Japan. It was an immediate hit in America and before long the simple console game had evolved into trading cards and a range of other merchandise. Pokémon themed versions of the original Nintendo consoles were even released.
With globalisation increasing and communication to people the half a world away becoming more accessible, other countries were influencing Australia’s technological side more than ever. The most prominent of these influencing countries in the 1990s was the United States. That’s not to say that all of the most popular and technologically influential mobile phones and video game consoles of the 90s were invented in America. Nokia is a Finnish company and the vast majority of video games consoles were created in Japan. It was the close link that Australia had with United States that caused their popular culture to meld with our own. America was the main market and if something gained popularity in America, it was likely to spread internationally. With all these technological advances pulling us into the future from the United States, it would have been nearly impossible for Australian culture not to be influenced by that of