Twenty five years ago today, Microsoft released Windows 95. It was
undoubtedly a technical leap forward, but its biggest, most
lasting impacts are about how it changed popular culture’s
relationship to technology.
For context, when Windows 95 was released in August of 1995, only
about 30% of American homes had any computer at all. Less than 10%
had any form of internet access — and virtually none had
broadband. There were no smartphones, of course.
But more broadly, computers and software were basically not yet
something one talked about in polite company. You might have had a
friend who “worked in computers” (we didn’t say “work in tech”
yet) or call IT for support for your printer at work. But software
was not part of culture, and the term “apps” wouldn’t come into
wide usage for more than another decade.