The 1990s comprised a fascinating, transitional time in technology — more people were buying home computers, Windows 3.1 was released, and we all started logging on to this thing called the World Wide Web.

Of course, none of that innovation would have been possible without the creative minds behind those advancements. To that end, let’s catch up with some of the people that made ’90s computers and Internet culture cool.

1. Solitaire for Windows – Wes Cherry

It’s hard to believe now, but when many people got their first home computers in the ’90s, they’d never even used a mouse before. To master this basic skill, they often turned to a little program written by Wes Cherry, called Solitaire.

Cherry wrote Solitaire while he was an intern at Microsoft in 1989 as a way to learn the Windows programming environment, and because there just weren’t that many games available for Windows at the time. Unfortunately, despite Solitaire’s presence on millions of computers for the last few decades, a contract technicality meant he never received any royalties for the game. However, the internship paid off and he wound up writing code for Microsoft Excel for most of the ’90s.

Today, Wes Cherry works with apples – but not of the OS X variety. He and his family recently moved to Vashon Island, WA, where they are planting seven acres of apple trees as part of a new venture: Dragon’s Head Cider. He still does the occasional bit of programming in his free time, but mostly, Cherry works on odd projects, like the restoration of a six-wheeled Swedish fire truck. He also makes the trek to Burning Man (see picture). Despite not getting paid for the popular game, Wes Cherry might be only person in history for whom Solitaire wasn’t a total waste of time.

2. After Dark Screensaver – Jack Eastman and Patrick Beard

Before the Internet spawned identity theft and viruses, home computer users only really worried about two things: power surges and screen burn-in. A good power strip solved the first problem, and flying toasters solved the second.

The After Dark Screensaver was released in 1989 by Berkeley Systems, a company that, at the time, wrote Mac software accessible for the vision impaired. The screensaver soon became a Mac staple and was later ported to Windows, where the signature flying toasters really took off.

Later, Berkeley released the very popular trivia game series, You Don’t Know Jack, which helped gain the attention of Sierra On-Line, the makers of classic games in the Space Quest and King’s Quest series. Sierra bought the company for just under $14 million.

After Dark key figures Jack Eastman and Patrick Beard had support from Berkeley Systems co-founders, Wes Boyd and Joan Blades. After the Sierra On-Line buy-out, Eastman left to co-found CloudSource, a developer of website production software, and is now co-founder of Eightfold Way Consultants, which offers website management software with a special emphasis on people with disabilities. Patrick Beard left Berkeley for graduate school, had stints at Apple and Netscape, and has since returned to Apple as a senior engineer. After the 1997 buy-out, Wes Boyd and Joan Blades founded, which has since become one of the most popular political sites on the web. Blades also founded, and is an occasional contributor to The Huffington Post.

3. You’ve Got Mail! – Elwood Edwards

Throughout the ’90s, there were only three things you could be certain of: death, taxes and another AOL CD in your mailbox. You could also expect to hear “You’ve Got Mail!” about 500 times a day — from the TV, the radio and your Great Aunt Margaret’s computer.

That familiar phrase was first uttered in 1989 by Elwood Edwards, whose wife worked for Quantum Computer Services, which later became AOL. Quantum was looking for a friendly voice for their new email program, so Edwards sat in his living room with a cassette tape recorder and spoke those now-famous words, as well as other AOL staples: “File’s done,” “Welcome” and “Goodbye.”

Edwards’ voice-over career didn’t end there. Aside from a few gigs, mostly parodying the AOL catchphrase, he’s been working as a graphics and film editor at WKYC-TV in Cleveland since 2002.

4. WebCrawler – Brian Pinkerton

Back in the early days of the World Wide Web, finding all of those X-Files message boards and “under construction” animated GIFs wasn’t easy. Then came WebCrawler, the first “full-text” search engine. The service enabled keyword search among its 4,000 indexed webpages, and set a standard that is still the norm today.

WebCrawler launched in April 1994 as a spare-time project of University of Washington student Brian Pinkerton. By November, WebCrawler had served its 1 millionth search result (for “nuclear weapons design and research”). Just over a year later, WebCrawler was purchased by AOL, which later sold it to Excite, and was then acquired by InfoSpace in 2001. Believe it or not, it’s still around today as a meta-search engine, combining results from Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Not surprisingly, Brian Pinkerton is still kicking around the web, too. After Excite closed shop in 2003, he’s worked at a variety of companies as a search engine expert, including his latest gig as chief architect of search at A9, the company that helps you find all the cool stuff on

5. Hotmail – Jack Smith and Sabeer Bhatia

For much of the ’90s, the average person’s email address was tied to his or her Internet service provider. You could change providers, but that meant you’d lose the associated email address, so you were kind of stuck. But that all changed on July 4, 1996, when Jack Smith and Sabeer Bhatia launched the first web-based email service, HoTMaiL (the strange capitalization emphasized “HTML”).

Hotmail offered users free email accounts, each with a whopping 2MB of storage space accessible from anywhere and through any ISP. In exchange, users simply had to look at a few banner ads. With that kind of convenience, the service grew quickly, reaching 40 million users by 1998, when Microsoft knocked on the door with a check for $400 million. Since the acquisition, over 1 billion Hotmail accounts have been created, and there are still several hundred million active users today.

After the buy-out, both Smith and Bhatia briefly worked for Microsoft before striking out on their own. Smith founded Akamba Corporation, which made accelerator cards for high-traffic web servers, and is currently the president of Proximex Corporation, a security system software company. Bhatia has been especially busy founding, a travel site that services India, then InstaColl, whose is an MS Office alternative. And in Nov. 2011, he launched JaxtrSMS, a free, international text messaging service.

Images courtesy of Flickr, monkeymanforever, Wikipedia, Wikimedia, Wikimedia

More About: aol, features, hotmail, Tech

For more Dev & Design coverage:

1. Invisible Car

To promote its new fuel cell vehicle, which has zero exhaust emissions, Mercedes pulled a stunt that showed off an “invisible” car with incredibly low environmental impact.

Although Mercedes says the hydrogen-powered drive system is “ready for series production,” it’s speculated to not be in comercialization until 2014.

Click here to view this gallery.

Everyone jokes about the flying cars and robot maids we’ve seen in movies and television, but it turns out the “future” we’ve dreamed of is well on its way.

The majority of these are just concepts, but all are definitely in effect, one way or another. In fact, you can technically purchase a flying car for the low, low price of $200,000. However, it will be a bit longer until we can purchase them as easily as a Honda Civic.

Every day we advance in technology, space exploration, medicine and more. From mind reading to in vitro meat, here are ten crazy peeks at what is coming for the future.

This May we’ll be exploring the future of digital at our signature conference, Mashable Connect. See below for all the details.

Event Information

Our annual destination conference, Mashable Connect, brings our community together for three days to connect offline in an intimate setting at the Contemporary Resort at Walt Disney World®. It will take place in Orlando, Florida from Thursday, May 3 – Saturday, May 5. Registration is now open.

Register for Mashable Connect 2012 in Lake Buena Vista, FL on Eventbrite

Held in a unique location away from everyday distractions, Mashable Connect is a rare and valuable opportunity to be surrounded by digital leaders across industries. You’ll spend time with Mashable’s passionate and influential community, hear from top speakers who will provide insight into the the technologies and trends that are shaping the next era of digital innovation, and get to spend time with the Mashable team.

To keep Mashable Connect as intimate as possible, only a limited amount of tickets are available.

A Look Back at Last Year’s Mashable Connect

1. Mashable Connect Race Powered by Gowalla

Team members check in to a race location at Magic Kingdom during the Mashable Connect Race powered by Gowalla.

Click here to view this gallery.

Supporting Sponsor

Sponsorship Opportunities

A limited number of sponsor opportunities are available for Mashable Connect. This is an excellent opportunity to get in front of Mashable’s passionate and influential audience. Contact for opportunities.

Image courtesy of Flickr, romainguy

More About: features, future, Gadgets, Science, Tech

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Austrian researchers broke the world record for quickest printout of a three-dimensional object in the fast-evolving field of 3D printing.

Smaller than a grain of salt, 3D replicas of cathedrals, national landmarks and race cars were printed out layer by layer in about four minutes. Looking at the photo of the blown-up replicas (see video above), it’s hard to imagine these intricate details are on a nano-scale and not full-sized.

“Until now, this technique used to be quite slow,” said Professor Jürgen Stampfl from the Institute of Materials Science and Technology at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna). “The printing speed used to be measured in millimeters per second – our device can do five meters in one second.”

The researchers at TU Vienna used a process called two-photon-lithography. The technique utilizes plant resin that turns into a solid after being glazed over by a laser. The race car was made by placing 100 layers on top of one another.

The researchers say 3D printing is a product of mechanics and chemistry. A team of chemists at a lab developed the materials needed to activate the special resin.

The research team plans to take these innovations and hopefully use them in hospitals. Researchers want to apply the two-photon-lithography print process to make biological tissues.

Other 3D print-out innovations in recent months have included models of chocolate, a jawbone and miniature dinosaurs.

Would you use biological body parts or organs developed from 3D printing technologies? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of the Vienna University of Technology

More About: 3d printing, innovation, Tech

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Thomas Edison once said that “genius” is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. In the world of technology startups, that 99% involves a heck of a lot of coding and wireframing. If you’ve got an idea for a startup, that’s great — but odds are that an idea is all you have. (Well, maybe you have passion and some savings, too.) But you’ll need more than that to bring your idea to life — you’ll need a developer who can transform your vision into an elegant app or website.

If you’re just foraying into the land of entrepreneurship, you may wonder where the to even start looking for such a person. And even if you do find a developer, how will you know the extent of his talent and whether he’s a good fit for you?

From trolling your network to attending meetups, there are myriad ways to meet skilled developers. When you find one you like, you should have an informal meeting — you’ll be spending a lot of time with the person, so it’s good to get to know him on a more personal level. Plus, you can determine whether he’s equally excited about your vision. If you’re not jibing, let him go — there are other dev fish in the sea, and it’s not worth it to force the partnership. When you find a personality match, move into the formal interview. If all goes well there, you can confidently extend an offer.

Throughout the search, there’s plenty of room for missteps, and you might not know the right questions to ask. But there are some pro tips you can employ to make the dev hunt more efficient and successful. The folks at General Assembly have created this easy-to-follow flow chart as part of the curriculum for its “Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship” program. If you’re serious about your startup idea, this chart can help you navigate your dev search and find someone who’ll turn your napkin sketches into a reality. And if you have any personal experience hiring a dev, tell us about it in the comments below.




Image courtesy of iStockphoto, nullplus, Infographic courtesy of General Assembly

More About: developers, features, general assembly, infographics, Recruiting, Startups, Tech

For more Dev & Design coverage:


Portuguese artist Nuno Serrão wants to make art viewing more stimulating by incorporating music through an iPhone app and QR codes.

The artist’s photography exhibit called Project Paperclip is currently housed at the Centro das Artes in Madeira Island, Portugal. People can walk in and do something usually discouraged at galleries — wear headphones and listen to music while taking in the images.

“It can carry you to a different interpretation of that moment in the frame,” Serrão, who has a background in programming, design and music, told Mashable. “All the pictures are inspired by science, curiosity and imagination.”

People can experience it by downloading the free Project Paperclip app. The app developed especially for this exhibit scans the QR scans very easily, connecting to musical airwaves. Try it online, where a few images from the Project Paperclip are viewable.

“The QR codes are used to unlock the soundscapes so that the viewer has access to the reactive soundscapes designed for that photo,” he said as he explained how the idea evolved.

The experience at the gallery or using the app outside the exhibit will be different for everyone. The soundtracks will change depending on when and where you open the application. Your voice, level of noise in the room, movement, and location will set off different sounds, according to the artist.

This gallery is the first augmented reality art exhibit, revolving around a Cold War theme — chosen because it is interesting from a cultural, scientific and political standpoint.

SEE ALSO: Rooftop QR Codes Aim to Infiltrate Google Maps
“There has been an incredible wave of great feedback, I’ve been following mostly on Twitter,” said Serrão, who hopes to bring the augmented reality art experience to international audiences.

The photos are surreal, especially with the pairing of soundtracks. The artist captured natural sound where photos were taken and incorporated those into original soundscapes co-created with musician Alexandre Gonçalves.

“I think I feel in love with the concept of joining art forms when I read a book [by] Arthur C. Clark called The Songs of Distant Earth,” he said, mentioning the 1986 science fiction novel that eventually was sold with a CD based on the book after 1994.

The 16-photograph exhibit opened Feb. 11 and will be available until April 29. The app is currently only available for iPhone 3 and later.

Image courtesy of

More About: art, Augmented Reality, iphone, Mobile, QR Codes, Tech

For more Dev & Design coverage:

A pair of model makers — Vincent Rossi and Adam Metallo — are taking on the task of digitizing the Smithsonian Institute’s 137 million-piece collection with high-tech scanners and 3D printing.

Once the process has been perfected, 3D printing will create close copies of artwork and specimens. The mammoth task of replicating and web archiving the almost two-century-old collection will allow the institute to display one-of-a-kind art at multiple locations and interactively on the web, according to a CNET report.

There’s only so much room for the art in Smithsonian locations and affiliate museums. An official statistic says, only 2% of the collection is on display at one time. Digitizing the art, making items viewable on the web, will help broaden the museum’s reach.

A printed replica of Thomas Jefferson at the National Museum of African American History in Washington D.C. was the first to be replicated.

The sculpture was the largest 3D printed museum quality historical replica on Earth, according to the institute.

For the Thomas Jefferson project, the Smithsonian team worked with Studio EIS to generate the 3D model and RedEye on Demand — a third-party company that specializes in 3D prototypes and digital manufacturing.

The Thomas Jefferson model was pretty spot on (see for yourself in the video above). But, Rossi and Metallo say there won’t be 100% accurate replicas until software is available to re-create geometrics of certain shapes. The process of 3D printing is essentially printing layers of material on top of layers.

SEE ALSO: 5 Ways Museums Are Reaching Digital Audiences
How did these two fine art model makers make the big-time in 3D printing — creating the largest collection of 3D scanned and replicated items ever? This isn’t the first big task to document artifacts, according to Spar Point Group. In 2010, the duo found themselves documenting finds at a prehistoric whale graveyard in Chile.

The 123D Catch and a Z Corp printer were used to print objects from scans. 3D replicas of 5-million-year-old whale fossils. The replicas were scaled down to a fraction of the actual size.

What do you think about seeing replicas of original artwork and historic specimens in museums soon? Tell us in the comments below.

Update: We stated that RedEye on Demand is a Smithsonian partner in the video above, but in fact, they are not. We stated the Smithsonian Institute scanned the Thomas Jefferson statue, when in fact, a company called Studio EIS was contracted to create the detailed 3D model. We regret the error.

More About: 3d printing, art, Tech

For more Dev & Design coverage:

A team of Swiss astronauts and university professors are working to create a robot spacecraft called CleanSpace One, which will grab inactive satellite parts from space and bring them back to Earth.

About 700 active satellites are in orbit around Earth, sending us weather, phone, television and GPS signals. But they are in constant danger of smashing into old inactive satellites.

“It has become essential to be aware of the existence of this debris and the risks that are run by its proliferation,” says Claude Nicollier, an astronaut and professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.

A 2009 collision between American Satellite Iridium with an inactive Russian satellite caused $55 million worth of damage. The accident also left 2,000 additional pieces of debris in space.

Thousands of satellites have launched since Sputnik‘s 1957 pioneering voyage into space. Over 16,000 pieces of broken and inactive satellites have collected in orbit causing a risk of collisions.

SEE ALSO: NASA Wants To Send Astronauts To Mars Within 20 Years in New Deep Space Vehicle

Before CleanSpace One is ready for space, there are technological hurdles to overcome. One being the machine’s ability to come within range of an object in space, to be close enough to capture it. Another hurdle is developing robotic arms that can “grab” the item. After being captured, the debris will be taken by the robot spacecraft back into the Earth’s atmosphere, where both will disintegrate upon re-entry.

Although space junk has been proposed as a serious threat to NASA equipment and personnel, this is currently a university-funded project and not a full-fledged multi-million dollar development, EPFL members say.

The maiden voyage will cost about $11 million, which the EFPL space team is hoping to raise over three to five years. Considering insurance premiums for satellites already go for about $20 billion, companies may be prompted to donate to the cause so insurance premiums don’t increase if the problem gets worse.

Thumbnail image courtesy of EPFL.

More About: gps, space, Tech, Video

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Researchers are trying to create a better battery with MRI scanning — looking at batteries from the inside out for the first time.

Previously the only way scientists looked into a battery is by destroying it. Now researchers at Cambridge University, Stony Brook University and New York University are adopting the MRI technology that doctors use to look inside the body.

MRIs are not typically used where there are large concentrations of metal. People with pacemakers and metal implants are urged to tell their doctors before getting an MRI because metal makes an MRI’s radio frequencies null.

SEE ALSO: 5 iPhone Battery Cases to Keep You Connected Longer

Researchers are using this limitation to their advantage. For lithium-ion batteries, MRIs may be used to see where large bundles of metal deposits are after charging the battery. These will point to problem areas that lead to battery failure, overheating fires and explosions, according to ScienceDaily.

What will come of this research? Better batties for your phones, cameras and laptops.

“New electrode and electrolyte materials are constantly being developed, and this non-invasive MRI technology could provide insights into the microscopic processes inside batteries, which hold the key to eventually making batteries lighter, safer, and more versatile,” said Alexej Jerschow, a professor in NYU’s Department of Chemistry who leads the MRI research laboratory.

Check out the video above to learn more.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, commorancy.

More About: Batteries, doctors, Mobile, mobile phones, Science, Tech

For more Dev & Design coverage:

The future of books may be here. Augmented reality book Between Page and Screen is an innovative art project that seeks to renew the reading experience by combining the physicality of a printed book with the technology of Adobe Flash to create a virtual love story.

To see the technology in action, you simply lay the 44-page hardcover across a laptop with a webcam and words will suddenly appear, spin and rattle. Turn the page to experience the wordless book of poems and see the future of interactive reading.

Poet Amaranth Borsuk and developer Brad Bouse, creators of Between Page and Screen, started exploring augmented reality after seeing a business card developed with similar technology. A simple geometric pattern on the card once held up to a camera would turn up the card owner’s face.

SEE ALSO: Augmented Reality Business Card Comes to Life [VIDEO]

Borsuk, whose background is in book art and writing, and Bouse, developing his own startup, were mesmerized by the technology. The married duo combined their separate love of writing and technology to create this augmented reality art project that would explore the relationship between handmade books and digital spaces.

The book is full of wordplay between the characters P and S. Expect a lot of movement and the fun of a pop-up book designed for adults.

“It is actually pretty fun,” said Bouse, who described seeing people experiencing augmented reality with a book for the first time. “Amaranth has been invited to do presentations. When she opens the book and people see the letters pop up [on screen] for the first time there’s always a initial gasp.”

People shake the book, turn the page and appear to really enjoy the experience, said the authors.

The book’s animation, which helps propel the written love story along, was written in Flash. Between Page and Screen uses FLARToolKit to project images from book, using Robot Legs framework, 3D-effects of Papervision, BetweenAS3 animation and JibLib Flash.

Any computer with a webcam can play the book, which will be published in April. However, the augmented reality book is ready for pre-order at

The authors created this book as an art project, but we’re wondering if you’d be interested in a broader augmented reality book selection. Let us know in the comments.

More About: Augmented Reality, books, innovation, Tech, webcam

For more Dev & Design coverage:

Dallas Lawrence is the chief global digital strategist for Burson-Marsteller, one of the world’s leading public relations and communications firms. He is a Mashable contributor on emerging media trends, online reputation management and digital issue advocacy. You can connect with him on Twitter @dallaslawrence.

If an individual or activist group broke into an organization’s office, raided confidential materials and then burned the building to the ground, local, state and federal officials would have swarmed the crime scene in an all out effort to bring the perpetrators to justice for an act of terrorism. Meanwhile, savvy online audiences and members of the media almost dismissively refer to the online versions of these raiders as “hacktivists,” conjuring up images of harmless school kids having fun pushing the boundaries of online security.

As we saw this morning with the Susan G. Komen Foundation website hack -– and again as “Anonymous Brazil” signaled they had successfully “taken down” the website of Brazil’s largest state bank — these groups are anything but harmless. One study from 2011 identified the average financial impact of these types of breaches to be just north of $7 million per incident.

SEE ALSO: 6 Tips for Handling Breaking Crises on Twitter

Whether you are a respected non-profit with a decades-long track record, or a state-owned financial institution in Latin America, organizations must diligently prepare for inevitable online intrusions and the challenging communications demands that result. There are four key considerations for organizations seeking to retain credibility and confidence as trusted stewards of information before and after a breach.

1. Think Ahead and Anticipate

The best offense is often the best defense — and this is certainly true in the online security game. Every organization involved in any form of data (online contributions, email petitions, online sales, social gaming, employee data, etc) is vulnerable to attack. Smart organizations are using their pre-hack peacetime wisely to invest in a forensics security assessment and to address identified weaknesses. In addition to the technical diligence, organizations must ensure their corporate communications, IT and legal teams understand who will be responsible for managing breaches and have a well planned rapid response crisis program in place.

2. Say Something

In the immediate aftermath of an attack, the lack of information can cause severe organizational paralysis. This paralysis hampers communications efforts, ultimately allowing external forces to shape the lens through which a response is viewed.

Identifying immediately what you know for certain and what you don’t know is critical. For example, organizations need to be prepared to address questions and concerns about the security of the system. Even though an activist may hijack a site to make a political point, it highlights a deeper potential for vulnerability that must be addressed.

Importantly, saying something does not mean saying everything. The rush to respond can have equally devastating consequences for the ill-informed and unprepared. Communicating what you know for certain and what you are doing to investigate — and even what you are still trying to determine — demonstrates responsiveness and transparency to stakeholders that rightly feel equally violated by the breach. Creating a direct response channel for those exposed — via an online registration system or a 24/7 call center — is another important sign of responsiveness. Total silence creates a vacuum of frustration that antagonists are only too happy to fill.

3. Know the Law

Every single state in the Union has separate reporting rules and regulations for what constitutes personally identifiable information (PII). These rules also govern when organizations that have been the victim of a breach must notify the public. Attempting to unravel this multi-state patchwork for the first time with your stakeholders, the media and law enforcement officials all demanding answers can be crippling.

Ensure that your team understands the regulations in each state — and country — you operate in, and make sure your compliance team is fully integrated with your communications team. Often, you will not be the arbiter of when to go public with news of your breach. The worst thing an organization can do from a reputational standpoint is to allow the narrative to shift from being the victim of an attack to the villain who failed to notify and protect those individuals whose data may have been compromised.

4. Remember, You’re Not Alone

In almost every case of online breaches, the “victims” number in the thousands — if not millions. It is not just the organization that has been violated, it is every employee whose social security number may have been exposed, every charitable donor who supported a cause, every business partner that shared data and every consumer who purchased a product. Keep these important groups informed and at the forefront of your communications efforts. They can be powerful advocates. Engaging quickly with local and federal law enforcement officials shows transparency and responsiveness — don’t be afraid to tell that story of cooperation.

In 2012, data will continue to emerge as the new form of global currency, and hacking will continue its evolution as the new face of popular protest. The fundamental reality for every business or organization is that everyone is now in the business of data — and its protection.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, tomhoryn

More About: Business, contributor, features, Marketing, PUBLIC RELATIONS, Tech, Web Development

For more Dev & Design coverage: