From the rise of the Internet to smartphones and social media to smart homes, our advances in technology have made the world far more interconnected over the past three decades. Each of these four connective tech breakthroughs have fundamentally shaped our home lives in a number of ways.

1. Broadband

If you’re old enough to remember the quaint sounds of dial-up modems in the 90s before broadband became a thing – well, congratulations on feeling old now like the rest of us. Broadband has allowed for far faster Internet speeds, immeasurably improving browsing and paving the way for modern online gaming. The video game industry has surpassed film in terms of overall lucrativeness, and it’s fair to say broadband helped play a huge role in making that possible.

2. Streaming

Broadband also set the stage for sites such as YouTube, Twitch, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and of course Netflix to begin the streaming revolution. Forget going out to Blockbuster (remember those?) and renting VHS tapes (remember those?) – streaming made it possible to rent and view films from home with a single click. YouTubers and Twitch stars, meanwhile, have risen over the past 15 years from Internet flukes to household names sometimes worth millions of dollars. From gaming channels to video essays to social commentary, YouTube stars in particular are among the most influential Millennial and Gen Z voices, helping coin the term “influencer” in the process.

3. Virtual Assistants  

Alexa and Siri are easily among the most recognized “voices” in the world, which says something about how deeply integrated into our lives virtual assistants have become. Whether you’re looking to set an alarm, order something online, turn on the lights, play music, or have a question that needs answering, they’re always a simple voice command away.

4. Encryption

None of these breakthroughs would be possible if cyber-burglars could easily break through your defenses and steal your credit card or social security number or commit other forms of identity theft. Encryption technology and smart locks are the bedrock of all safe modern computing.

The past three decades have been shaped in large part by these four connection tech breakthroughs, and it’s anyone’s guess what the next three decades will bring.