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Windows 95 turns 20, or how Microsoft revolutionized computing

By Shawn Knight · 19 replies
Aug 24, 2015
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  1. It was 20 years ago today that Microsoft released Windows 95, thus forever changing the computing landscape. I had just turned 13 and although it’d still be nearly half a decade before I got my first computer, I can still remember the occasion as if it happened yesterday.

    In the summer of 1995, I was a diehard console gamer. By that time, the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo were mere decoys to keep me occupied until the Sony PlayStation arrived in December. The Nintendo 64 was still more than a year out. I’d heard a lot about Doom and Myst for the PC but had only spent a brief time with the latter at my cousin’s house.

    Why am I carrying on about video games in a story about Windows? Because at the time, high-profile video game releases were the only thing even remotely comparable to the warm and chaotic welcome that Windows 95 received.

    Buying a highly anticipated game in the mid-90s involved placing a pre-order at your local Electronics Boutique, Babbage’s or Toys “R” Us. Come launch day, you’d simply head down to the store and pick up your copy of said game. Depending on the title, it wasn’t uncommon to have to wait in line which only further fueled the anticipation.

    The launch of Windows 95 surpassed anything I had previously seen. I recall watching multiple news reports showing hoards of people clamoring to get their copy of the OS at midnight launch parties across the country. Again, I knew absolutely nothing about computers at that point but even as a young teen, I was fully aware that I was witnessing history in the making.

    Windows 95’s rich graphical user interface and icon-laden desktop as well as features like the Start Menu and task bar were concepts that made computing much more approachable for the average Joe. The OS also marked the shift from a 16-bit to 32-bit architecture and its plug-and-play nature was welcomed by all.

    Just how big of a deal was it? One computer consultant at the time told The New York Times that Windows 95 was to computing what color TV was to black and white TV. He was right.

    Microsoft has certainly stumbled along the way yet to this day, its software continues to power the overwhelming majority of the world’s computers. Had Bill Gates and company not found success that summer, the entire computing landscape – and our love affair with technology – would no doubt look drastically different than it does today.

    Windows 95 was already old news by the time I got my first computer although those a bit older than me will no doubt have fond memories of it. Feel free to share what you remember most about Windows 95 in the comments section below!

    Permalink to story.

  2. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 2,139   +1,303

    Microsoft could use a little positive rhetoric, how much they paying you guys to post this? :p
  3. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,286

    Win 95 is still the OS, I mean it's number is 85 larger than Win 10 so it must be better. Right?
    Techdude and psycros like this.
  4. Opus

    Opus TS Enthusiast Posts: 51

    Shawn, indeed it was game changing. Look at the most modern Operating Systems and you will know right away that all are following the legacy of 95. I had the honor of using 95 and the later Windows but none can touch the glory of Windows 95.
  5. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,354   +2,850

    Thanks for this piece of history. That video of Bill Gates and Jay Leno is like a Simpsons documentary.
  6. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,208   +4,877

    I remember feeling it was way better than previous Windows (3.11). I've only felt that way two other times. I'm now wondering if I will feel that way again.
  7. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,833   +1,343

    Windows 95 interface still feels more familiar compared to Windows 8.
    SantistaUSA and psycros like this.
  8. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,742   +1,489

    The accurate history of the WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus & Pointers) GUI is:
    1. First developed by Xerox at the PARC facility in Menlo Park (heart of Silcon Valley)
    2. Jobs and Wozniak created the Lisa computer from the PARC objectives but that was just not a marketable product at $10k per
    3. The little all-in-one Macintosh GUI has been revised multiple times since 1984,
    4. followed by Gate's Windows 1.0, a GUI for the MS-DOS operating system was released in 1985.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2015
    Techdude likes this.
  9. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,618   +2,351

    Is "reated" some foreign slang meaning "stole"?
    gingerbill and Techdude like this.
  10. Techdude

    Techdude TS Rookie

    WHAAAT? Xerox invented this and then Apple improved on and popularized it in 1984, 11 years earlier, son! If you ever studied the history of the industry, you might already know this. Fact is that kleptoid Microsoft never invented or revolutionized much of anything to speak of. They sure were always great at shoving stuff you didn't want or need down your throat though...
  11. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,742   +1,489

    Jobs and Wozniak created the Lisa; sorry for the typo :grrr:
  12. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,742   +1,489

    True. :grin:
    It's hard to deny that Apple has always been about innovation, including trivia like rounded corners and swipe to unlock, but the iPhone and iPad have certainly created a market where there was none previously (aka defacto innovation).

    However, the better mouse trap is not always the winner, as a great marketing team can still sell you snake oil. IBM was / is a success due to marketing and cost to manufacture. The famous IBM 360 line was good and reliable and the service - repair support was the coup-de-grace that no one could match. It was not the best hardware or software architecture, but others just could not match the price point.

    Today, the dominant web servers are Linux - - even on an IBM mainframe; not Apple nor Windows :grin:
  13. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,742   +1,489

  14. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 12,742   +1,489

    And for fun, here's a pictorial of Innovative products:

    Attached Files:

  15. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,966   +223

    Ahh fond memories, my first computer: an AST Advantage 623 100Mhz with 8MB EDO RAM and a 1.3GB HDD!
    It came delivered with Win95 but you had to set it up yourself, it's how I really got into computers :)
  16. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 284   +99

    Ah the good ole' days of crashes and instability. I do remember the computer we had was a 133mhz AMD K5 chip with 32mb of RAM. I think the hard drive was a Fijitsu 1.3GB? And the video board was an Trident brand board with .5mb of memory. It was a PCI bus card of course.
  17. Duckeenie

    Duckeenie TS Booster Posts: 80   +62

    I started out with almost identical spec. Mine was Packard Bell it cost me £1500, yet it only had a 1GB drive. Frighteningly it cost me £180 to add another 16MB EDO RAM a little later, when I think what I could have done with that money...
  18. lazer

    lazer TS Addict Posts: 230   +53

    Windows 95, sure I remember that. That is when women began to swear like men since it happened so often that the whole fu@#$@#g computer would crash loosing a few hours of work.

    What a piece of crap was foisted on us low live public consumers by Micro$lop. All they cared about was making money with inferior products. HEY, it hasn't changed much has it? They gave us Vista and win8 to skin what little money we had in our pockets.

    Some one should really start a class action suit against them to get some money back from them.
    Techdude likes this.
  19. Cryio

    Cryio TS Addict Posts: 213   +75

    I only used XP SP2+ on my PC. But I had the pleasure of using Windows 95 when I was a kid in school. Even though even XP launched by that time, in 2001. So there's that.
  20. Victor38077

    Victor38077 TS Rookie Posts: 23

    I remember hearing that even people who did not own a PC were buying Windows 95. I don't know maybe they bought it because it came in a pretty box.

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