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20-years-ago

It was 20 years ago

A certain Tony Blair was elected British Prime Minister in May 1997. In the election that returned Labour and Blair several previous Cabinet ministers lost their seats, as did all Conservative MPs in Scotland and Wales. Gordon Brown become chancellor. Michael Portillo thought about using his free time to start on travelogues. The Halifax Building Society floated on the London Stock Exchange creating the largest extension of shareholders in UK history.

Also in May/June 1997 a USA businessman called Donald Trump announced his separation from his then wife Marla Maples. Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a historic treaty with NATO and the UK's 99 year lease on Hong Kong expired, the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere, the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand opened, the Brazilian Senate allowed women to wear slacks (yes, slacks!). Thousands of people in the USA reported the 'Phoenix Lights', a purported UFO sighting in Arizona. Although still a hotly contested event the U.S. Air Force did admit to dropping flares.

And did you know:

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was published, marking the first instalment of the best selling series by J. K. Rowling
  • The UK won the Eurovision song contest - Katrina and the Waves for United Kingdom won singing 'Love Shine a Light' in Dublin
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park, directed by Steven Spielberg premiered in the United States

In the tech and science worlds:

  • In a computer first IBM supercomputer Deep Blue defeateds chess player Garry Kasparo
  • The IEEE introduced 802.11 the wireless (WiFi) network standard
  • Microsoft released Office 97 (still using it?)
  • Microsoft bought a $150m share of Apple who moved, in those pre Safari and Chrome days, to Explorer for the Mac default web browser
  • The first all female team (20 British women) reached the North Pole.
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