Smiley Movement logo

50 years of good news: 1990s

Words by Smiley Team

For the last 50 years, Smiley has served as a beacon of positivity as the company has encouraged the world to 'Take the Time to Smile'.

In celebration of this huge milestone, Smiley's book – Smiley: 50 Years of Good News – takes a look back at moments in history that gave us a reason to smile. 

So, what good things happened in the world in the 1990s? We take a look. 

[Read the full story: 50 years of good news]


Earth Day Goes Global

After decades of a successful campaign in the United States to raise awareness about the crucial environmental threats facing the planet, the Earth Day movement went global. On April 22, 1990, over 200 million people in 141 countries mobilized to push the modern environmental movement onto the world stage.


Nelson Mandela Freed from Prison

Nelson Mandela’s release from prison marked a major milestone for South Africa, as it came during a time of great progress for the country taking the steps to move away from apartheid. The afternoon of his release was a grand moment of celebration in Cape Town, as he gave his first speech as a free man and led the way to ending racial segregation in South Africa.


Injured English Olympian Finishes Race with Help from His Dad 

When English runner Derek Redmond was halted by a hamstring injury during a 400-meter race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, he tried to continue around the track with a limp. But to help him finish the race, his father leapt past security and supported his son as he hobbled toward the finish line. 


Rio Earth Summit Takes Place 

In a massive move toward a more sustainable future for the planet, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, otherwise known as the Rio Earth Summit, brought together scientists, political officials, diplomats, media representatives and members of nongovernmental organizations from over 179 countries to come up with attainable goals to achieve a healthier planet. 


World Conference on Human Rights 

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (VDPA) is a human-rights declaration adopted by consensus at the World Conference on Human Rights on June 25, 1993, in Vienna, Austria. This conference marked a turning point for human rights, as the Cold War had ended. Looking ahead to a more just world, the declaration sought to set an international standard for human rights


First Smiley on a Mobile Phone

Marking the first moment an image of the original Smiley logo appeared on a mobile phone, the Alcatel’s greeting graphic and message of “C’est moi ” (it’s me) appeared when the phone was turned on, in an officially licensed partnership. This was a precursor to a new era of digital communication, when, today, billions of people around the world use emoticons to put more feeling into the way they talk through text.

1998 Is Launched 

With the invention of the internet and sites like, nonprofit organizations and charities have a wider ability to reach more communities in need and enlist volunteers to help them. Since its founding in 1998, has helped over 135,000 nonprofits find helping hands.

Buy the book on Assouline.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

You might also like…