news2day turns 20 on Friday. To celebrate the milestone, all this week we will be taking a look back on two decades of the RTÉ News programme in a world that has changed dramatically since the first show for younger viewers aired in 2003.

Today, we are looking at what life was like in 2003, exploring how things have changed in areas such as technology, education, the media and society in general.

Technology in 2003

2003 certainly wasn't the 'dark ages' when it came to technology but a lot has changed in 20 years.

People had mobile phones but, for the most part, they could not be used to take photos or access the internet.

Netflix existed but it looked very different to today. And many of the video games that are big now were also popular back in 2003.

Mobile phones

In 2003, Nokia was king when it came to mobile phones. They were small and came in different colours and styles, flip-phones were also popular.

At this stage, phones were mainly used for calls and text messages as mobile internet was just beginning to take off.

Most phones back then did not have built-in cameras. That technology was still being developed and rolled out on some models from companies like Nokia, Sharp and Samsung.

In the years that followed, almost every phone sold would have a built-in camera for photos and video.

20 years ago, the first smartphones started to emerge but they looked very different to the iPhones and Samsungs of today.


A company called Blackberry was selling handsets that allowed you to check emails and browse the web.

The graphics were basic by today's standards, and you had to use a keypad on the phone to type and navigate as touch-screen technology was not yet available.

It would be four more years before the first iPhone was unveiled.


While Apple was not yet making iPhones in 2003, it was busy making iPods. These portable music players allowed users to download their favourite tracks onto a small device and listen on their headphones.


Prior to this, people had to use a mini-disc player, Discman or Walkman.

In homes and cars, CDs were still popular for music and when it came to movies, it was all about the DVD.


There were no internet streaming services in 2003 but Netflix did exist.

It had been founded a few years earlier as a company that sold and rented DVDs by post. Customers in the US could choose the films and TV shows they wanted to watch on the Netflix website and the discs would be sent in the post.

Xtra-vision shop

It would be a few more years before the company started streaming movies over the internet.

In Ireland, people were using stores like Xtra-vision to rent DVDs.

The internet

The internet may not have been strong enough to stream films back in 2003, but people could surf the web and send emails in a similar way as they do today.

This had to be done on desktop computers or laptops as tablets would not be invented for another few years.


Google had been in existence for a while at this stage but it was around 2003 when it started to become really popular and for the first time the word 'google' started to appear in dictionaries as a verb that people used every day.

2003 also saw the launch of Skype, the video call service, which remains popular to this day.

While search engines and Skype were around in 2003, social media had not yet taken off.

Social media

In 2003, a website called 'MySpace' was launched. It was the first social media site to reach a wide audience allowing users to message friends and share photos and music.


It would go on to become the biggest social network site in the world but would soon be overtaken by more popular rivals.

In 2004, Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook.

Video games

The graphics and effects were not as advanced as they are now, but many of the most popular video games today were around back in 2003.

Popular titles included Mario Kart, Star Wars, WWE SmackDown and Pokémon.

Xbox console

The most popular consoles will also sound familiar and included the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo GameCube and Microsoft Xbox.

The phones were not as sophisticated, the internet wasn't as fast but a lot of the technology, websites and software we use today first started to appear 20 years ago and would evolve in the two decades that followed.