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Top Tech Innovations of the Past 20 Years

Updated By Shelby on June 23, 2020

Technology moves in leaps and bounds. In the past twenty years, there have been innumerable technological advancements that better our lives. Whether you’re a first-time student starting college or you’re returning to finish your degree from an educational hiatus, the revolutions in technology over the past few decades have made it easier than ever to attain a high-quality education in an increasingly high-tech world. As you begin (or continue) your educational journey, take a moment to be thankful for the technology that we take for granted these days. Take a look at the top tech innovations and advancements of the past twenty years:

  1. Diamond Rio PMP300

You may not know what a Diamond Rio PMP300 is, but you’re definitely familiar with the portable music devices that it set the stage for. This little device was the precursor to tech like the standard MP3 player and the original iPods.

  1. TiVo

Next time you are able to watch your favorite show—or a documentary for class—on demand, thank TiVo. This technology has been around for roughly 20 years now, and its invention changed the way we watch all television programming. Can you imagine having to actually be home to watch your favorite shows when they aired?

  1. Microsoft Xbox Live

Although PC gamers had been able to play online for years, the internet was almost exclusively regulated to computer screens before Microsoft brought capability to its flagship gaming console. Xbox Live was the first time we connected to the world through our TV sets, and we’ve never looked back.

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  1. Google Maps

When Google Maps debuted, it changed the navigation game. You may take it for granted, but an interactive map gave people a way to navigate, put themselves on the map, and better understand the space they lived in.

  1. The Smartphone

The fact that you may be reading this very article on a smartphone speaks to its revolutionary nature. Perhaps the most impactful innovation on this list, the smartphone set the stage for thousands of other inventions, and quite literally changed the entire world.

  1. Mars Curiosity

Rampant technological growth on Earth results in big advancements in space as well. The Mars Curiosity created a new, innovative way to gather necessary information about our next-door neighbor in the solar system.

  1. Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars put technology to use and gave people a way to watch their environmental footprint. The batteries in hybrid cars were years in the making. These eco-friendly automobiles are a great example of technology in action.

  1. Tablets

A hybrid of smartphone and computer, the invention of tablets made taking information places easier than ever. Lightweight and portable, tablets give users access to untold amounts of information at the press of a button.

  1. Online Streaming Services

Hulu, Netflix, and even online cable streaming services contribute to a wealth of entertainment and education that’s all accessible online. Whether it’s a historical documentary for class or a binge night with friends, chances are you put streaming at the top of your list of blessings.

  1. Color Plasma Display

The way we access our entertainment has changed, and so has the way we see it. Plasma coloring brought more color, depth, and life to an onscreen picture than ever before.

  1. Flash Drives and External Hard Drives

Storing the information that you gather online, saving a paper, or collecting family photos in a safe place has never been easier. With storage capacity so large it would have been unfathomable twenty years ago, flash drives and external hard drives make it easy to keep your files safe.

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  1. Bluetooth

Developed as a way to share files from a phone to a computer, Bluetooth has evolved, and now we use this technology to play music, talk on the phone while we drive, and do about a hundred other things.

  1. Social Media

Staying constantly connected wasn’t a thing twenty years ago, but thanks to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit, users can stay in constant contact, 24/7. Need help with a homework assignment? DM a friend on Instagram. Want to check in on your sister? Look at Facebook. It’s just that easy.

  1. Phone Cameras

Digital photography has revolutionized the way we take and store images, but advancements in phone camera technology have added to innovations in photography. With high definition images being taken on your smartphone, the phone has given everyone the gift of photography.

  1. Editing Software

Speaking of photographs, the advancements made in the Adobe Suite products over the past twenty years are equally astounding. Editing, enhancing, and manipulating photos has never been easier. Video and audio editing software has also become increasingly efficient, accessible, and user-friendly.

  1. Spell Check

If you’ve ever had to write a paper for class, you’ve probably said a prayer of thanks for spell check. Spell check software has come a long way, and now there are even plugins like Grammarly, that will spell check all your online typing.

  1. Crowd-Sourced Funding

Changing the way we fund big ideas, crowdfunding has given small businesses and big ideas new opportunities. These websites and apps let someone pitch an idea and give regular people the option to help finance it.

  1. E-Readers

Thousands of books, all in one tiny tablet. E-readers are giving people instant access to hundreds of books with just a few clicks.

  1. Google Glass (and other VR)

Virtual reality isn’t just amping up gamers, it’s changing the education and healthcare industries as well. Giving people a new way to learn and experience things, VR is likely to continue growing and expanding in the years to come.

  1. Smart Watches

Wearable data tracking devices like a FitBit or the Apple Watch have allowed people to take control of their lives by using their own data. From number of calories burned to hours slept, a smartwatch correlates your life at your fingertips. 

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