To celebrate our 20th Anniversary as a company, we rounded up a few of our favorite memories of what life, business, and technology was like 20 years ago.
We can’t believe it’s been 20 years since our company was founded. A lot has certainly changed since 1999. To reminisce, we asked some of our employees to share what life looked like in business and technology then compared to now.
We talked to Paul Holway, Carmen Fontana, Michael McNeal, and Raquel Richardson about their experiences. Here are our top 20 favorite responses that celebrate 20 years of growth, success, and learning. Answers included everything from reflecting on Y2K to Carson Daily!
Keep reading, embrace the nostalgia, and party with us like it’s 1999.
What kind of business challenges were most prominent?
Michael McNeal, National Marketing Operations Practice Lead: Y2K! Everyone was concerned about what would happen when the clocks struck midnight on December 31, 1999. Computers did not necessarily know how to handle the century rolling over (since many were not necessarily programmed to deal with that as it relates to the date). Would there be world chaos? Would the computers controlling major things have issues (utilities, airlines/air control, military)?
What tech was emerging?
MM: Cellular phone technology was emerging and becoming more popular (but not prevalent). I remember getting a Motorola StarTac from work, to go along with my pager, and thinking how cool this (and I) was.
Paul Holway, St. Louis Practice Lead: I remember getting DSL in St. Louis and being so happy!
Carmen Fontana, Modern Software Delivery Practice Lead: In 1999, I was in my last year of undergrad and working on my senior project developing a computer model to predict the impact of overly aggressive irrigation on the Aral Sea region. We weren’t really using the term back then, but it was essentially machine learning –just with a whole lot less computing power.
What technology was instrumental in your daily life?
Raquel Richardson, Indianapolis Senior Manager: Twenty years ago, I was super excited about the Palm Pilot. I had been an avid Franklin Covey planner user since college. I thought the rise in the Palm Pilot would save me from carrying my planner around and somehow give me superpowers in planning. Welp, that didn’t happen, and to this day I write down everything in my Moleskin. I never did fully move away from writing what’s important down and keeping track with a pen (or really cool Sharpie) and paper.
PH: I loved Palm Pilot and can still draw out its weird alphabet.
CF: AOL instant messenger! It was taking campus by storm and was quickly becoming the way we connected with one another. I spent way too much time picking an away message that was “just right,” when I should have been studying.
MM: A Sun Microsystems workstation and a Personal Computer (PC) were instrumental in my work life. In my personal life, I was happy to have my Toshiba laptop computer that had 64-shades of grayscale (no color display, they were emerging and expensive), with a trackball that snapped onto the side. I used it extensively for doing graduate school projects, and afterward. It weighed a ton, but I still lugged it around quite frequently.
What was hot or trending?
CF: It was the dot-com boom, and if you could say the word computer, you could practically get a job in the industry. There were SO many startup companies interviewing on campus. Many of them went kaput (their names have faded away from my memory, much like their profitability did), but some of them went the distance (Google for instance).
PH: Trending wasn’t even a word then. I’m not even sure people used “hot” like that either. Now I’m depressed!
What were the battle brands in tech and business?
MM: The internet (and it’s bubble) was created, and companies like Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, Lycos, and RealNetworks were hot and had (or were) doing IPOs and tech stories. Most things internet-related were hot and being invested in. Startups prevailed, and many of the companies had no business model (or at least not one that got to profitability in the foreseeable future).
Name one concert or sporting event that was memorable.
PH: The Saint Louis Rams and the Greatest Show on Turf.
MM: Tiger Woods was very hot at the time, and people interested in sports would tune in (at least on Sundays) to see if he was going to win again (and by how much).
What were some of your favorite pop culture icons?
MM: I wasn’t much into “pop culture,” but I remember Pokémon was all around (and I had no kids or friends with kids at the time and had no interest), but you couldn’t not see the hype. I also remember this was all about “boy bands,” and that was all over any “social media” back then (which was just E! TV. MySpace wasn’t even around yet).
CF: As an early 20-something, I tried to catch Carson Daly on Total Request Live on MTV on the regular. Now, as a middle-aged mom, I get my Carson “fix” each AM on the Today Show!
What were some of your favorite movies, TV shows, and music?
CF: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson’s Creek, and Felicity were must-see TV in the dorms. Don’t knock it – many of the shows’ stars are big names now! (Jennifer Garner, Katie Holmes, Busy Phillips, Keri Russell, Sara Michelle Gellar).
MM: I wasn’t big into TV at the time, but I definitely watched The Sopranos (it was don’t-miss). Movie-wise, it was all about Phantom Menace, The Matrix, and The Blair Witch Project.
What was one of the best-selling business books in the ’90s?
MM: I recall reading “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” by Harvey Mackay, also popular was “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. Also, while not a book, a regular business read of mine was “Fortune” magazine.
Thanks for traveling back in time with us! Can you believe how far the business and tech world has come? We can’t wait to see what the next 20 years bring.