CLOSE
iStock
iStock

25 Things Turning 25 in 2016

iStock
iStock

If 2016 marks your quarter-century of life, you're in great company. In 1991 we saw the popular explosion of grunge music, the release of the World Wide Web, the premiere of The Jerry Springer Show, and the very first Kenny Rogers Roasters. Here are 25 things turning 25 in 2016. (And in case you missed it, we also have 30 Things Turning 30 in 2016!)

1. THE WORLD WIDE WEB

On August 6, Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web. He created the Web on a NeXT computer at CERN in Switzerland in 1990, and unveiled the first Web page to the public in 1991. You can now browse that original page and experience the ultra-simplicity of the first day of the Web.

2. NIRVANA'S NEVERMIND

Alternative and grunge music had a good year in 1991. On September 24, Nirvana released its seminal album Nevermind, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and A Tribe Called Quest released The Low End Theory. That's quite a day in music history!

Some other major events in 1991 musical history include the release of Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion I & Use Your Illusion II, Michael Jackson's Dangerous, Pearl Jam's Ten, Metallica's eponymous album (often called "The Black Album"), REM's Out of Time (featuring the hit single "Losing My Religion"), Smashing Pumpkins' Gish, and U2's Achtung Baby. Oh yeah, and let's not forget the debut of a little music festival called Lollapalooza.

3. THE END OF THE U.S.S.R. (AND THE COLD WAR) 

In December, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned his presidency of the U.S.S.R. This marked the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the de facto end of the Cold War. Russia, Belarus and Ukraine (formerly part of the U.S.S.R.) formed the Commonwealth of Independent States, led by Boris Yeltsin. (The whole story is quite a bit more complex than that. Read up!)

4. PUBLICATION OF THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS

Using photographs, scholars published the first publicly available edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, entitled A Facsimile Edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The photos came from an unnamed source (whose lawyer provided them). This was just one step in a long and tortuous battle over publication of the scrolls, and quickly resulted in legal action.

Today you can view the Scrolls online; of course, in 1991 the World Wide Web wasn't quite so robust! (See item No. 1 above.)

5. LINUX

Twenty-year-old Finnish computer science student Linus Torvalds wanted to use a UNIX-style operating system on his home PC, but was frustrated by the lack of a truly free option. So he proceeded to create his own, called it Linux. In the years since, Linux has spread across the world, powering the vast majority of World Wide Web servers, most smartphones and tablets, many embedded systems (smart devices like fridges and TVs), and plenty of PCs.

6. THE END OF APARTHEID IN SOUTH AFRICA

The South African Parliament repealed the racist policy of apartheid ("separateness") on June 5. Under apartheid, the minority white population of South Africa ruled the country, and maintained strict racial segregation. Although the policy was officially repealed in 1991, it wasn't until 1993 that nonwhite citizens were allowed to vote.

7. THE WIGGLES

Australian kids' group The Wiggles formed in 1991 and released "Get Ready to Wiggle" (atrocious video above). For an extraordinarily detailed history of the band, check out Wigglepedia. (Yes, really.)

8. SUPER NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM (SNES) 

On August 23, Nintendo released its 16-bit Super Nintendo console in the North America. (It had already been on sale in Japan since November 1990 as the Super Famicom.) U.S. buyers picked up Super Mario World in a bundle with the console, similar to the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt bundle from the original NES. Despite competition from other 16-bit consoles, the SNES was a hit, remaining popular well into the 32-bit era of home console video games.

9. FIRST PHOTOGRAPH OF AN ASTEROID

On October 29, the Galileo spacecraft zipped by the asteroid 951 Gaspra and snapped photographs. This was the first time a space probe had visited an asteroid, and the resulting photograph was the first time humans saw an asteroid up close.

10. COMEDY CENTRAL

The Comedy Channel launched on April Fools' Day, though it would soon be renamed Comedy Central. It merged two existing channels: The Comedy Channel and Ha!, which previously competed in the cable comedy space. The new combined channel featured original programming as well as reruns (many borrowed from sister channel Nick at Nite), plus cult classics like Mystery Science Theater 3000. On June 1, the channel was renamed Comedy Central, to avoid confusion with a similarly-named Canadian "Comedy Channel." Within the decade, major original shows would include South Park and The Daily Show.

For tons of early Comedy Central videos, check out SplitSider's coverage of the channel's formation.

11. SHAILENE WOODLEY

Born in 1991: Actors Shailene Woodley, Dylan O'Brien, Emma Roberts, Erik Per Sullivan, Bonnie Wright, and Jamie Lynn Spears; plus musicians Ed Sheeran, Tyler the Creator, and Lena Meyer-Landrut.

Above: The Fault in Our Stars star Shailene Woodley explains horseradish (among other things) to Jimmy Fallon. Awesome.

12. THE REN & STIMPY SHOW 

On August 11, Nickelodeon premiered The Ren & Stimpy Show, one of its first three "Nicktoons"—original cartoon shows made for the network (the other two were Doug and Rugrats). What made Ren & Stimpy so special was its bizarre, psychedelic, subversive style. Series creator Jon Kricfalusi built the characters around deep neurosis and idiocy, then let it all hang out. My favorite bit (aside from the History Eraser Button) is the commercial for LOG:

Other notable TV premieres in 1991: Blossom, Clarissa Explains it All, Liquid Television (featuring Aeon Flux), Herman's Head, Home Improvement. And then there's....

13. THE JERRY SPRINGER SHOW

With the benefit of hindsight, we can look back on 1991 as the year when daytime talk TV started heating up. The Jerry Springer Show premiered, along with The Jenny Jones Show and The Montel Williams Show. Initially, Springer was actually a pretty serious show—one of his early guests was Oliver North, and Springer himself is the former mayor of Cincinnati. After a few seasons, the show devolved into baby-daddy tests and similarly prurient material. But in the earliest Springer shows, the discussion was actually very substantive.

14. THE HONEYCRISP APPLE

Public Domain / Evan-Amos

The Honeycrisp apple was developed at the University of Minnesota, in the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station's Horticultural Research Center. It was originally cultivated in 1960, patented in the late 1980s, and finally released to the public in 1991. Prized for its sweetness, juice content, and long shelf life, the Honeycrisp is now a staple in American grocery stores.

15. BRET EASTON ELLIS'S AMERICAN PSYCHO 

In 1991, author Bret Easton Ellis released his brutal satire, American Psycho. The narrator is Patrick Bateman, a businessman-slash-serial killer. It was later adapted into a fantastic, funny, and violent movie by Mary Herron. Ellis told an interviewer in 2010:

[Patrick Bateman] was crazy the same way [I was]. He did not come out of me sitting down and wanting to write a grand sweeping indictment of yuppie culture. It initiated because of my own isolation and alienation at a point in my life. I was living like Patrick Bateman. I was slipping into a consumerist kind of void that was supposed to give me confidence and make me feel good about myself but just made me feel worse and worse and worse about myself.

Yikes.

Other notable books of 1991: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; Griffin and Sabine by Nick Bantock; and Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

16. THE CYBERCAFE

In July, the first Cybercafe opened in San Francisco. (If you're not sure what a Cybercafe is, watch this explainer from 1996.) Wayne Gregori set up the SF Net Coffee House Network, a network of coin-op computers around San Francisco. Users could access chat rooms, message boards, games, and FidoNet—effectively, a coffee house-specific BBS network.

If you're curious where the Cybercafe originated, check out the list of early participating shops in and around San Francisco.

17. APPLE'S POWERBOOK 

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported / Danamania (Wikimedia Commons)

In October, Apple introduced the first PowerBook, the first laptop-style Mac computer (the earlier Macintosh Portable was, in a word, gigantic).

The PowerBook 100 was relatively underpowered for the time, but it sported a black-and-white 640x400-pixel screen, built-in hard drive, and external floppy drive. Weighing just over five pounds (down from the Macintosh Portable's 16 pounds—complete with lead-acide battery), the laptop was a hit, despite its $2500 price tag. For a guided tour of the computer, check out this in-depth video.

18. NICOTINE PATCH (BY PRESCRIPTION ONLY)

In 1991, the FDA approved the nicotine patch to help smokers kick the habit. The idea was that tobacco users could apply a stick-on patch to the skin, delivering a low dose of nicotine, and that would reduce the craving for smoking actual cigarettes and using other tobacco products. At the time, "the patch" was available by prescription only, though by 1996 it became an over-the-counter product. On December 9, 1991, The New York Times reported:

Analysts reason that the patch will attract a broader market than [nicotine] gum, which must be chewed several times a day for 20 to 30 minutes and causes irritation of the mouth and stomach. The skin patch costs the same but is much less obtrusive; its main side effect is skin irritation in some people. As a prescription product, analysts estimate the skin patch could soon have a $400 million market, and should it become available without a prescription in a few years, the market would expand considerably.

19. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY

Terminator 2 came out on July 1. It was a rare example of a sequel that was at least as good as (if not better than) the original, and it became the highest-grossing film of the year. It won a pile of Academy Awards for sound, makeup, and special effects. The most visually impressive element of the film was the silvery T-1000 Terminator, a milestone computer-generated effect. The film also spawned the phrase "There is no fate but what we make," commenting on the time travel aspect of the film franchise.

Other notable movies of 1991: Point Break, The Fisher King, Thelma & Louise, Jungle Fever, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Boyz n the Hood, What About Bob?, Beauty and the Beast, Hook, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Silence of the Lambs, JFK, Fried Green Tomatoes, and The Prince of Tides.

20. DAVE MATTHEWS BAND

Grunge and alternative music weren't the only musical trends in 1991. In Charlottesville, Virginia, Dave Matthews recruited local jazz musicians and formed the Dave Matthews Band early that year. They released their first album, Remember Two Things, in 1993, and released their breakthrough album Under The Table and Dreaming in 1994.

Other notable bands formed in 1991: Belly, Bloodhound Gang, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Cake, The Chemical Brothers, Counting Crows, Dogstar, Frente!, Guster, Heatmiser, House of Pain, Incubus, Luscious Jackson, Oasis, Portishead, Rage Against the Machine, Rancid, Sloan, Three 6 Mafia, and Unwound.

21. BLIZZARD (AS SILICON & SYNAPSE), BUNGIE, EPIC GAMES, AND ID SOFTWARE

Four major video game companies formed in 1991: Blizzard (then known as "Silicon & Synapse"), Bungie, Epic Games, and id Software. Of the quartet, Blizzard is likely the best-known today, for its epic franchises Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft. Bungie is best known for the Halo series, and co-developed Destiny. id Software made Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake. Epic Games made Unreal.

22. MCDONALD'S MCLEAN DELUXE

On January 22, McDonald's cooked up a special new burger: the McLean Deluxe. To reduce its fat content, the hamburger contained a special mix of carrageenan (seaweed extract) and water. According to reports, the burger was definitely healthier, but was not a big hit with consumers, some of whom reported that it tasted a bit dry. It only lasted a few glorious years.

(The same year, McDonald's introduced its breakfast burrito.)

23. STREET FIGHTER II: THE WORLD WARRIOR

The mega-hit arcade game Street Fighter II launched the fighting game boom of the 1990s. It featured vibrant graphics, player-vs.-player combat, combo attacks, and the ability to play as a variety of different characters. In the years following the arcade release, Street Fighter II was ported to all sorts of computer systems, including the Super Nintendo, PC, Game Boy, PlayStation, Xbox, and many more.

24. EXHUMATION OF PRESIDENT ZACHARY TAYLOR 

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

On June 17, the body of President Zachary Taylor was exhumed to test a theory that he might have been poisoned from arsenic. (His cause of death is unclear, but it may have been cholera or gastroenteritis.) The result? No arsenic.

You can watch a C-SPAN video about the exhumation for more information.

25. KENNY ROGERS ROASTERS

In 1991, musician Kenny Rogers and former Kentucky governor John Y. Brown Jr. formed Kenny Rogers Roasters, a fast-food chicken restaurant. The first location was in Coral Springs, Florida. By 1998, the company was bankrupt. After a series of ownership changes and much restructuring, Kenny Rogers Roasters now operates primarily in Malaysia, where it's apparently much-beloved. (The restaurant was also memorably featured on Seinfeld.)

nextArticle.image_alt|e
20th Century Fox/Getty Images
arrow
entertainment
15 Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Julie Andrews Quotes
20th Century Fox/Getty Images
20th Century Fox/Getty Images

With her saccharine movies and sugary voice, it would be easy for Julie Andrews to cross the line from sweet to cloying. Yet for more than 60 years, the Oscar-winning actress/singer/author has managed to enchant audiences of all ages with her iconic roles in everything from Mary Poppins to The Sound of Music to The Princess Diaries.

Yet just because she sings about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens doesn’t mean that Andrews doesn’t have an edge. “I hate the word wholesome,” she once declared. In celebration of the beloved movie star’s 82nd birthday, we’ve assembled some of Andrews’s most memorable quotes on everything from being typecast to Mary Poppins's personal habits.

1. ON MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM STAGE TO SCREEN

Mary Poppins was the first movie I made and The Sound of Music was the third. I was as raw as I could be. God knows I did not have the right or the ability in those days to say anything like a mentor. The only thing I did feel was that I could contribute to helping the kids feel natural, making them laugh off the set so that they were easy with me on the set. We had some good times." — From a 2015 interview with HitFix

2. ON THE FRIGHTFUL NATURE OF SUCCESS

“Success is terrifying. Like happiness, it is often appreciated in retrospect. It’s only later that you place it in perspective. Years from now, I’ll look back and say, ‘God, wasn’t it wonderful?” — From a 1966 interview with This Week

3. ON SMILING THROUGH CHALLENGING TIMES

“I was raised never to carp about things and never to moan, because in vaudeville, which is my background, you just got on with it through all kinds of adversities.” — From a 2010 interview with The Telegraph

4. ON AVOIDING TYPECASTING

“I think the hardest thing in a career even as lovely as I’ve had is not to go on being typecast, to keep trying new things. As much as possible, I do try to do that.” — From a 2015 interview with HitFix

5. ON BEING A BADASS

“I’ve got a good right hook.” — From Julie Andrews: An Intimate Biography, by Richard Stirling

6. ON BEING GRATEFUL

“A lot of my life happened in great, wonderful bursts of good fortune, and then I would race to be worthy of it.” — From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

7. ON THE CHANGING DEFINITION OF “SUCCESS”

“You never set out to make a bad movie. You always hope that you’re making a good one. We’re sad about them, inasmuch as they damage the career. In those days it was important, but not as important as it is today, to keep making success after success after success. It’s terrifying today. You can maybe have one so-so movie but you’ve got to come back with another that’s huge, if possible, and that must be very, very difficult for young talent.” — From a 2004 interview with the Academy of Achievement

8. ON THE COLLABORATIVE NATURE OF FILMMAKING

“It is a collaborative medium. If you’re lucky, everyone wants to do just that. You never set out to make a failure; you want a success. In the case of The Sound of Music, everyone was willing to bond and make it work. That is the best kind of working conditions. You don’t want to go in feeling that something’s wrong or that you’re not connecting. Thus far I’ve been really blessed.” — From a 2015 interview with HitFix

9. ON HOW THE PROS DO IT

“Remember: the amateur works until he can get it right. The professional works until he cannot go wrong.” — From Julie Andrews’s autobiography, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years

10. ON BELIEVING IN MIRACLES

“I do think that’s true [that miracles are happening every day]. If you can take the time to look. It took me a while to learn that, though some children know it instinctively and they do have wonder when they are kids. But the trouble is, as we grow older, we lose it.” — Interview with American Libraries Magazine

11. ON LOSING CONTROL

“I can’t drink too much without getting absolutely silly. And drugs have, mercifully, never worked, so I think I’m far more frightened of being out of control.” — From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

12. ON FINDING INSPIRATION

"It comes from anyplace. Truthfully, once the antennae are kind of up I’m always thinking or looking or feeling." — From an interview with American Libraries Magazine

13. ON THE REALITY OF “HAPPILY EVERY AFTER”

"As you become older, you become less judgmental and take offense less. But marriage is hard work; the illusion that you get married and live happily ever after is absolute rubbish." — From a 1982 interview with The New York Times

14. ON LUCK AND LONGEVITY

“When careers last as long as mine—and it’s been a lot of years now—I’m very fortunate that I’m still around. All careers go up and down like friendships, like marriages, like anything else, and you can’t bat a thousand all the time. So I think I’ve been very, very lucky.” — From a 2010 interview with The Telegraph

15. ON HOW MARY POPPINS IS JUST LIKE US

“Does Mary Poppins have an orgasm? Does she go to the bathroom? I assure you, she does." — From a 1982 interview with The New York Times

nextArticle.image_alt|e
NASA/Getty Images
arrow
Lists
6 Memorable Letters From Neil Armstrong
NASA/Getty Images
NASA/Getty Images

Neil Armstrong, who would have turned 87 years old today, is remembered as both a "reluctant American hero" and "the spiritual repository of spacefaring dreams and ambitions." He was a man of few words, but those he chose to share were significant and, occasionally, tongue-in-cheek. Here are some notable letters and notes written by the first man on the moon.

1. ITS TRUE BEAUTY, HOWEVER, WAS THAT IT WORKED.

There was little certainty about what to expect once Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left the relative safety of the Apollo 11 spacecraft. This was not lost on Armstrong, who sent a letter of thanks to the crew who designed his spacesuit.

2. AMERICA MUST DECIDE IF IT WISHES TO REMAIN A LEADER IN SPACE.

It's no secret that NASA's budget has all but disappeared in recent years. Neil, along with James Lovell and Eugene Cernan, had a few things to say about that. The three wrote an open letter to President Obama, urging him not to forfeit the United States' progress in space exploration and technology. It ends with a sobering prediction, and some advice:

For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President’s plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.

Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.

(Here's the letter in full.)

3. ALL OF THIS KNOWLEDGE IS YOURS FOR THE TAKING.

In 1971, the children's librarian of Troy, Michigan's new public library wrote dozens of letters to notable figures across the globe, asking them to address the children of Troy and speak about the importance of libraries, books, and reading. Among the replies was this note from Armstrong:

Through books you will meet poets and novelists whose creations will fire your imagination. You will meet the great thinkers who will share with you their philosophies, their concepts of the world, of humanity and of creation. You will learn about events that have shaped our history, of deeds both noble and ignoble. All of this knowledge is yours for the taking… Your library is a storehouse for mind and spirit. Use it well.

4. I FIND THAT MYSTIFYING.

After NPR's Robert Krulwich wondered aloud on-air why the astronauts stayed so close to the landing site (less than 100 yards from their lander), a helpful Armstrong sent over a lengthy letter of explanation, which ended with a little insight about the importance of space exploration (emphasis added):

Later Apollo flights were able to do more and move further in order to cover larger areas, particularly when the Lunar Rover vehicle became available in 1971. But in KRULWICH WONDERS, you make an important point, which I emphasized to the House Science and Technology Committee. During my testimony in May I said, "Some question why Americans should return to the Moon. "After all," they say "we have already been there." I find that mystifying. It would be as if 16th century monarchs proclaimed that "we need not go to the New World, we have already been there." Or as if President Thomas Jefferson announced in 1803 that Americans "need not go west of the Mississippi, the Lewis and Clark Expedition has already been there." Americans have visited and examined 6 locations on Luna, varying in size from a suburban lot to a small township. That leaves more than 14 million square miles yet to explore.

I have tried to give a small insight into your question “Who knew?”

I hope it is helpful.

(Read the full transcript here.)

5. IT CERTAINLY WAS EXCITING FOR ME.

On the 40th anniversary of the Apollo landing, Armstrong wrote a personal letter of tribute to the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, which provided the communications between Apollo 11 and mission control. In part, it reads:

We were involved in doing what many thought to be impossible, putting humans on Earth’s moon.

Science fiction writers thought it would be possible. H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and other authors found ways to get people to the moon. But none of those writers foresaw any possibility of the lunar explorers being able to communicate with Earth, transmit data, position information, or transmit moving pictures of what they saw back to Earth. The authors foresaw my part of the adventure, but your part was beyond their comprehension.

All the Apollo people were working hard, working long hours, and were dedicated to making certain everything they did, they were doing to the very best of their ability. And I am confident that those of you who were working with us forty years ago, were working at least that hard. It would be impossible to overstate the appreciation that we on the crew feel for your dedication and the quality of your work.

The full text is available on the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station website.

6. NEXT TIME, BUTT OUT OF OUR BUSINESS!

After a surprise appearance in "Mystery On the Moon," issue #98 of The Fantastic Four, wherein our intrepid explorers are saved by four mutants in space, this brief note arrived in Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's mailbox. Was it real? Who knows. But the sentiment remains: We don't need your superheroes to get to the moon—we have science

This post originally appeared in 2012.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios