How Business Technology and Communications Have Evolved Since 1998

How much has technology evolved over the last 25 Years?

As Curveball Solutions reaches its 25th year in business, we’re taking a look at just how much the IT and communications industry has changed over the last 25 years.


The turn of the 21st century marked the beginning of a remarkable era in the evolution of business technology, IT, and communications. 1998 serves as a pivotal point to examine the significant changes that have shaped how businesses operate in the digital age and is also the year Curveball Solutions was founded, 25 years ago!

Whilst we were all captivated by the launch of the Titanic movie or looking after our pet Furby, Microsoft, Google and Apple were on a trajectory to become some of the world’s largest companies, helping to drive the technological revolution we’ve all seen since. In this article, we will explore the transformative advancements that have occurred in these fields over the past two and a half decades.

Technology Timeline

There have been some key milestones which have helped shape the digital landscape that we know today. In a world of 5G communications and a strong reliance on internet-enabled technology, it’s easy to forget the transformational journey we’ve all been on to reach this point today.

1990 – The launch of Microsoft Office

The internet was still in its infancy and only eight years old, but Microsoft was already launching their first version of the popular software package we all use daily.

1992 – The first SMS text message is sent

The first SMS text message really did signify giant steps in the world of mobile communications, which now transcend the globe. The text message said, “Merry Christmas” and was sent on the Vodafone network.

1997 – The launch of Microsoft Outlook

MS Outlook was the first mainstream email client software to offer direct and easy access to email accounts from an internet-connected PC.


25 Years of Technology – From 1998

A BIG year for IT

A lot happened which changed the game in 1998. Google was launched in a suburban garage. The world was introduced to the Apple iMac and Microsoft also launch Windows 98 – the backbone of its future versions for many years. And Curveball Solutions was born, starting life in an old bank on County Road in Liverpool.

1999 – The popular Blackberry mobile devices

Blackberry was the first fully email-enabled mobile device, granting users access to instant messaging for the first time. By 2022 Blackberry devices were fully decommissioned, really highlighting the speed at which technology changes.

2000 – We all survived Y2K

It may sound trivial now but in IT communities the ‘millennium bug‘, or the fear of computers crashing as their clocks turned at midnight was a real concern. Luckily, we all lived to tell the tale!

2001 – The launch of the Apple iPod

Whilst MP3 players had been on the market for a few years, the Apple iPod was the first to really take the technology global and capitalise on digital music downloads.

2003 – The launch of Google Android

Originally designed as an operating system for digital cameras by Android Inc., the software was quickly enhanced to be used in smartphones in 2004.

2004 – Facebook was founded

Facebook was built as a network for American college users but has gone on to grow to be the largest social media platform globally. It’s estimated that over one-third of the entire world’s population has a Facebook account.

2005 – The year of video & satellite navigation

YouTube was launched in 2005 and has also grown to be one of the largest platforms for online searches. Around 3.7 million videos are uploaded every day. At the same time, Google was also busy launching its first version of Google Maps and TomTom had just released its first all-in-one GPS system.

2006 – Say hello to cloud computing and Twitter

Amazon makes cloud computing available to the world with its Web Services EC2 offer. Despite recent performance issues, Twitter has been a powerhouse in terms of influencing global culture, politics, society and more.

2007 – The first iPhone arrives

After years of anticipation, iPhone launched to much acclaim. With the arrival of the App Store, mobile phones entered the PC, landline, music, and games market.

2008 – The launch of Google Chrome

Chrome was a disruptor in the internet browser landscape, driven by the huge increase in mobile device access. It became the most prominently used internet browser by May 2012.

2010 – The launch of the first iPad

Again, whilst not the front runner, the iPad was the first tablet device to offer easy and accessible use to a global market. The first Android tablet was launched by Samsung earlier in the same year. 

2012 – iPhone5, Windows 8 & Oracle IaaS

The iPhone 5 was the first iPhone to use 4G technology. At the same time, Microsoft launched Windows 8 which was paired with its new mobile devices. They were considered a huge flop! This year, Oracle also launched the first Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering to business users.

2014 – Microsoft back on its feet with Windows 10

After a shaky product launch last time around, Microsoft is back on track with its impressive new Windows 10 offering – delivering innovations such as touch-screen-enabled MS Office apps.

2015 – Alexa is born on the Amazon Echo

Whilst only small, the Alexa device from Amazon leads to the home-based Internet of Things (IoT) hub becoming commonplace in consumer homes across the world.

2016 – AR & Pokémon Go!

Augmented reality comes to prominence in a unique fashion – chasing digital creatures around your local park or shopping centre. The game is credited for helping to drive a big increase in AR gaming and virtual headsets.

2019 – 5G is here

5G is launched in the UK in May 2019 by EE, with Vodafone, O2 and Three not far behind. With up to 20GB per second speeds, 5G promises mobile users faster and more available connectivity to power videos, gaming and video calls.


How Have the Developments in IT Powered Businesses Growth?

Information technology has had a transformative impact on business, with key milestones since the late 1990s that have revolutionised how business can operate globally. These innovations include:

Internet and the World Wide Web

In 1998, the internet was already making waves, but it was far from being as universal as it is today. Dial-up connections were the norm, and browsing the web was a rather slow and tedious process. However, the turn of the millennium witnessed exponential growth in internet accessibility and speed. Broadband connections became more widespread, allowing businesses to leverage the power of the internet in many ways like eCommerce, online presence and marketing, collaboration and communication tools.

E-commerce and Digital Marketplaces

The late 1990s saw the birth of e-commerce, with companies like Amazon and eBay emerging as pioneers. However, the online shopping landscape back then was a mere fraction of what it is today. Since 1998, e-commerce experienced phenomenal growth, transforming the way businesses sell products and services. The rise of digital marketplaces, coupled with advancements in secure online payment systems, has fuelled the rapid expansion of online retail.

Mobile Revolution and Connectivity

In 1998, mobile phones were primarily used (by a select few) for phone calls. However, the dawn of the new millennium brought about a mobile revolution that forever changed the way we connect and do business. The advent of smartphones, starting with the release of the iPhone in 2007, revolutionised the mobile industry.

These powerful handheld devices transformed into multifunctional tools, integrating communication, computing, and internet access. Today, mobile devices are an essential part of everyday life, allowing businesses to reach customers anytime, anywhere.

Do you remember your maths teacher saying that you won’t always have access to a calculator? Well, it turns out they were wrong!

Collaboration and Communication Tools

The way businesses communicate and collaborate has evolved significantly since 1998. Email was the primary mode of digital communication at the time (paper mail was still dominant though!), but today, there is a vast array of digital tools available. Instant messaging platforms, video conferencing software, project management systems, and virtual collaboration tools have changed how teams connect and work together.


Cloud Computing and Virtualisation

IaaS Diagram

The introduction of cloud computing in the mid-2000’s profoundly impacted the IT landscape. Prior to cloud computing, businesses relied on on-premise infrastructure, which required substantial investments in hardware and maintenance. The cloud revolutionised this model by offering scalable and flexible data storage and computing resources on demand. Since 1998, cloud computing has become a fundamental pillar of business technology, enabling companies to reduce costs while improving access and security.

Big Data and Analytics

The explosion in internet and technology use generated an enormous amount of data. Since 1998, businesses have had to grapple with the challenges of managing, analysing, and extracting value from this vast sea of information. The emergence of big data technologies and advanced analytics has provided businesses with the tools to make sense of the data deluge. By leveraging data-driven insights, businesses today can make better-informed decisions, improve customer experiences, and gain a competitive edge.

Artificial Intelligence and Automation

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation technology have exploded in recent times. From chatbots and virtual assistants to machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics, AI has transformed the way many businesses operate. Automation has streamlined repetitive tasks, increased productivity, and enabled a focus on higher-value activities.


The past 25 years have witnessed a breathtaking transformation in business technology, IT, and communications. From the frustrating dial-up connections of 1998 to the lightning-fast connectivity of today, the world has become more interconnected than ever before.

The internet, eCommerce, mobile technology, cloud computing, and AI have reshaped the way we all work and live. As we move forward, the pace of technological innovation shows no signs of slowing down, meaning that the business world must continue to adapt to stay ahead in this ever-evolving landscape.


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