It can never hurt to look back if you want to fully understand the evolution of mountain bikes. This comparison should enlighten you with regard to the major changes which have occurred during the last twenty years. Let us take two examples. The first bike used is a Kona Fire Mountain bike from the 1990 and the second one is the bike manufactured in 2010. The logo of this company is "Super Performance. Entry level price", this being the explanation for the fact that Kona launched a bicycle for low budgets, but which featured modern components for its times.
Presented as a bicycle which can manage just as well in the mountains and in the city, this Fire Mountain featured a Shimano Exage 300 LX line of components, as well as a Hyperglide transmission system, a box of seven pinions and SIS switchers. That was also the first time this company equipped this mountain model with Quick Release for both wheels.
The 1.6 Quad tires were manufactured by Ritchey and the brakes for the back wheel were also manufactured by Shimano, but they were 500 LX ones.
Today, things are a little bit different. There is no mountain bike with at least a suspension fork. More than that, Kona Fire Mountain 2010 features brake discs. The frame is made from aluminum and not from chrome and the bicycle appears a lot more resistant and more complex.
What is left from the old logo is "Entry level price", a legacy which the bike still has.