In 1969, the Department of Defense linked four computers together, creating the first internet. In the 1990s, new software and hardware made the internet available to the public. Americans quickly began using the internet at home and at work. Soon, this technology had dramatically changed the way we do business.
- Since the Industrial Age of the 19th century, people had depended on assembly-line factory jobs. During the 1990s, many of these jobs were sent overseas to places like Asia, where costs were lower. Factory workers in America lost their jobs. Additionally, robots and computers could now do many assembly-line jobs, reducing the need for American workers even more.
- The internet created new jobs, such as web designer or software developer. Traditional jobs changed and grew too. Writers turned to creating internet content. Traditional businesses, such as banks, real estate offices, or investment brokers, could now offer their services to a much wider audience. Entrepreneurs could easily launch stores to sell almost anything online.
- The internet made it easier to do business worldwide. Businesses could communicate quickly and easily. Many businesses opened offices around the world or bought services and products from far away. Not everyone was happy about this new global economy. Some people worried about how these global businesses would affect the environment and culture of less developed countries. They worried that workers might be exploited or mistreated. Factory workers in America resented losing their jobs to foreign workers.
- The internet brought new challenges too. Hackers broke into computer systems, stealing valuable business and personal information. Musicians, writers, and other artists found it difficult to protect their work.
- Assembly-line: in a factory, products are assembled on a conveyer belt with one part being added at a time
- Entrepreneur: someone skilled at starting and managing businesses
- Exploit: to take an unfair advantage
Questions and Answers:
Question: Has business changed since the 1990s?
Answer: The business practices that began in the 1990s continue today. Even more people do business online quickly and easily.
People prepared for a massive computer meltdown at the turn of the 21st century. Read more about the Y2K scare at National Geographic.