1999: The year in technology

CNET News.com takes a look back at 1999 and how the Net and technology have changed.

CNET News staff
5 min read
year in review
CNET News.com takes a look back at 1999 and how the Net and technology have changed.

Personal Technology
Consumers were the big tech winners in 1999
Some high-tech products and companies excelled in 1999, while some fared conspicuously badly. (January 4, 10:05 a.m. PT)

Handheld mania revs up
Although 1999 saw major advances in portable technologies, most agree that next year is when the device market will really take off. Of course, everyone said that last year, too. (December 30, 5:20 p.m. PT)

Idiot box gets smart
Big initial public offerings, big mergers and big technology introductions all help mark 1999 as a significant year for the interactive television industry, although the industry has yet to fully deliver on its promise. (December 27, 1:05 p.m. PT)

The free PC revolution begins
Following last year's low-cost PC battle, 1999 became the year of the "free PC," prompting speculation as to whether or not companies can continue to make profits on hardware alone. (December 22, 11:50 a.m. PT)

The Net
Net music waits for its cue
Digital music promises to give consumers more flexibility and portability than vinyl albums, tapes or CDs ever did, but many obstacles still stand in the way of Net music's widespread adoption. (January 4, 4:00 a.m. PT)

AOL and Microsoft: Goliath vs. Goliath
Having won the battle for the desktop and the browser, Microsoft lost no time in moving against its next big target, bringing America Online into its sights throughout much of 1999. (January 3, 4:00 a.m. PT)

Web 3D: Back to the drawing board
The year 1999 tried the patience of advocates for 3D Web graphics, with definitive breakthroughs in both technology and demand sorely lacking. (December 28, 3:40 p.m. PT)

Portal envy doesn't always pay
If 1998 was a year when big media and Web companies leaped into the battle for portal dominance, 1999 may be remembered as the year of retreat. (December 27, 3:45 p.m. PT)

Web search results still have human touch
Alongside technological progress in the search and navigation area came an unexpected twist in 1999: a surge in Web sites' reliance on results compiled by humans rather than software. (December 27, 8:00 a.m. PT)

Start-ups storm the Net
Even as first-generation consumer Web businesses like Yahoo and America Online solidified their positions in 1999, key employees left their posts to get in on the booming start-ups scene. (December 22, 11:45 a.m. PT)

Enterprise Computing
Linux explodes onto the scene
The year began with a bang for the upstart operating system as big-name PC makers started selling systems designed for use with Linux. (December 31, 11:30 a.m. PT)

XML rides the e-business wave
After years of research and development, 1999 was the year Extensible Markup Language was commercially born as software makers embraced the technology and began building it into their products. (December 30, 5:30 a.m. PT)

For Compaq, 1999 was the year that wasn't
Rather than entering 2000 as a $50 billion company that could rival IBM or Hewlett-Packard in the breadth of its technology and capability, Compaq is fighting for survival. (December 28, 4:00 a.m. PT)

Best and worst of times in satellite industry
During 1999, some of the communications industry's biggest success stories and most glaring failures came from the satellite sector, giving investors and executives reason to both cheer and jeer space-born technologies. (December 30, 12:10 p.m. PT)

Net phone calls could soon catch on
Technological innovations and public offerings sparked heavy interest in Internet telephony this year. But even as its popularity begins to grow, making phone calls over the Net is still a novelty for most people. (December 29, 3:30 p.m. PT)

Mergers: How big is big enough?
The face of communications changes radically in 1999, driven by an unprecedented stream of multibillion-dollar mergers. (December 29, 4:00 a.m. PT)

Networking firms feast on Net growth
Sky-high public offerings, high-priced acquisitions and insatiable corporate demand for bandwidth marks a manic year in the networking industry. (December 28, 12:30 p.m. PT)

Home networking comes of age
Although start-ups and PC firms this year have touted technology that can network computers and other gadgets in a home, analysts say the new millennium probably won't be the age of the Internet toaster. (December 27, 12:20 p.m. PT)

The year the Net sped up--sort of
Hundreds of thousands of Net junkies across the nation got hooked to high-speed connections in 1999, but broadband still has a long way to go. (December 23, 12:20 p.m. PT)

Net brokerages lose momentum
Online brokerages triumphantly marched into the year as the hottest industry on the Internet, but they leave a bit humbled. (December 28, 12:45 p.m. PT)

Everyone's an auctioneer
Hoping to emulate eBay's success, e-tailers, portals and content sites added auctions to their offerings. (December 27, 12:10 a.m. PT)

Consumer e-commerce enters the mainstream
Bricks collided with clicks in e-tail this year, as consumer e-commerce exploded and became a household word. (December 23, 12:50 p.m. PT)

Services & Consulting
Is the enterprise resource planning market dead?
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison may be right on the mark when he said the enterprise software market as Wall Street and corporate America know it is dead. (January 4, 1:05 p.m. PT)

Consulting old guard revamps as start-ups proliferate
It's been a tough year for the old guard in this industry, where established companies frantically move to adapt to a business environment the Internet has changed forever. (December 22, 2:35 p.m. PT)

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Portal envy doesn't always pay

 News around the web
Ten tech trends for 2000
Red Herring 
The 1999 Fortune 500 index
Web visions: Shaping tomorrow
Business 2.0 
The PC at 25

 Special reports
Click or miss
November 22, 1999

Y2K: The cost of fear
November 4, 1999

See special report: PC free-for-all
October 8, 1999

Puppet masters: Who controls the Net
August 6, 1999

High speed pipe dreams?
July 28, 1999

See related story: The new world order
May 10, 1999

MP3: Sound and fury
April 27, 1999