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The most important inventions of the last 30 years

Steve Jobs original iPhone 2007David Paul Morris/Getty Images

  • World-altering inventions like the internet and the iPhone have led to dozens of major technological breakthroughs in the last three decades.
  • Many of these inventions have completely changed the way that we approach the world and people around us. Others have become luxuries that we’ve learned to take for granted.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The last 30 years have seen some of the most rapid technological advancements in human history, thanks to life-altering creations like the internet and the iPhone.

The internet redefined how we search and share information with each other, breaking down the communication barriers between countries in the process. The iPhone changed how people relate to technology and consume information at a personal level, transforming the smartphone from a luxury item into an essential everyday tool.

These two inventions have helped create a world where technology feels ever present, and the next major advancement feels like it’s just around the corner. The last two decades have seen billion-dollar businesses like Uber, the ride hailing service, or Netflix, the video streaming service, depend on the ever-presence of internet and smartphones for their success.

Understanding the influence of the internet and the constant spread of information is essential as we explore the most important innovations of the last 30 years.

The internet (1990)


The creation of the internet, or the world wide web as it was first known, has changed billions of lives by providing access to a nearly limitless source of information. By allowing people in different countries to instantly transmit messages to one another, the internet has completely transformed the way we communicate as well.

Photoshop (1990)


Photoshop is a photo-editing suit and an essential computer program for nearly every type of business. The program is incredibly versatile, allowing professionals to create and adjust photos for whatever their needs may be. With the internet making visual communication even more important, Photoshop has enhanced the way we looked at the world while also increasing skepticism about whether what we see is real.

Portable GPS (1990)


Global positioning systems (GPS) were originally developed for US military use but the technology was eventually rolled out to civilians around the world. The earliest consumer GPS devices hit the market as the 1990s began. Since then, the development of the internet and mobile broadband has made it easier than ever to navigate new places.

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