1991 – the year that changed the world

1991’s breakthroughs still changing the world Lots of important things happened in 1991. For one thing, that was the year the map of Europe was more or less redrawn, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. But that is not what I want to discuss here.

  • 1991 was the year the first GSM call was made.
  • 1991 was the year when the World Wide Web came to life.
  • 1991 was also the year the Linux kernel was conceived and created by Finnish computer science student Linus Torvalds.


These three seemingly unconnected events really changed the world.

Today, 20 years on, we have around 85 percent of the world population covered by mobile telephony. GSM, the technology that made us mobile, has evolved to mobile broadband so we can use the World Wide Web everywhere, on our phones, laptops and other devices. The ability to be connected and to use sophisticated applications and networks has become an everyday thing. We pretty well take for granted the fact that we can interact with anyone, and be part of the information and knowledge flow anywhere. We are living in a new open-source culture, in which anyone with an internet connection can make their creations available to the public, unmediated by the old gatekeepers. The result has been an unprecedented outpouring of creativity.

People, enterprises, markets and societies are benefiting more and more from the real-time connectivity and networking that broadband makes possible. Connectivity is everywhere, digitalization extends into all possible areas of society, and mobility supports interactions whenever we want. Digital life and analog life are merging, and our emerging Networked Society is already benefiting from fundamental transformation across industries, public services and in private life.

In 1991, those three innovations were independent of each other. Today they are intertwined into something really amazing that is changing our world even more.

Want to read more?  Try my post on how the maker movement is coming of age

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