25 years: A technology timeline
Even in a time of accelerated technology advancements, innovations take time to gestate.
IBM PC: Computers as a low-cost assemblage of electronic Lego parts made every neighborhood electronics geek a computer technician and every small office and home work room a data center.
RELATIONAL DATABASES: The second generation of RDBMS systems began to take hold.
GPS/GIS: The Global Positioning System was opened for use by civilian aircraft in 1983, beginning a trend that ' combined with great advances in geographic information systems and mapping tools ' led to agency data visualized in layered maps and cars telling their drivers where to turn.
CD-ROM for computers: Flattened two entire industries, data storage and music dissemination.
Its successor, the DVD (1996), killed off the video tape.
FLASH MEMORY: Invented in 1984 at Toshiba, it found its place in small devices.
Smart phones, digital cameras, other devices (and, soon, laptops) all rely on Flash.
NETWORK FILE SYSTEM: The file system that brought us to the age of network storage. No longer would your data be hostage to the computer in which it was created ' or to backup tape.
POWERPOINT: The one you love to hate. All the knowledge in the world boiled down to easy, succinct, bullet-pointed meaninglessness.
PERL: God's own duct tape, at least when working in Unix-based systems.
WORLD WIDE WEB: Invented by Tim Berners-Lee, it would soon change the way governments, business and people operate.
SLIP/PPP (Serial Line Internet Protocol and Point-to-Point Protocol): We've forgotten about this now, but SLIP/PPP ' mostly PPP ' is what got everyone on the Internet via dial-up modems back when broadband was an obscure industry term.
LINUX: A Unix knockoff that is the world's largest hobby project for coders. A select few are among the world's best.
HYPERTEXT MARKUP LANGUAGE: You send the instructions to the remote computer and let it figure out how to render the layout, dummy! PCI SLOTS: Rumors are unconfirmed that the national boost in technology productivity came from the thousands of admins who no longer had to fiddle with the IRQ settings each time they installed a new peripheral.
GRAPHICS COPROCESSORS: They made the fancy stuff possible by pulling graphics data away from the CPU and eventually gave rise to separate graphics cards.
THE BROWSER: It made the Web work for the rest of us.
E-MAIL: Electronic mail goes back to the 1960s, but it really started taking off with Web use. By 1997, the volume of business e-mail surpassed that of regular mail.
ADOBE PDF: Lawyers and other control freaks love it! Also, it was perhaps the first truly effective document- sharing technology.
JPEG: Lit up the Web with images.
BEOWULF (LINUX) CLUSTERS: Changed the supercomputing industry with cheap hardware and an open-source operating system.
WINDOWS 95: 32-bit pre-emptive multitasking made possible everything that has come along for the desktop since ' including the graphical Internet and Mac OS X.
LIGHTWEIGHT DIRECTORY ACCESS PROTOCOL: The universal administrative assistant (mostly in the form of Microsoft Outlook/Exchange) for the cubicled middle rank ' and a nursemaid for their bosses.
WIKIS: They may have taken a while to catch on, but wikis are becoming a dominant collaboration tool.
JAVA: Write once, run all over the Web.
IPV6: The newest set of protocols makes tomorrow's online dreams possible.
APACHE WEB SERVER: The reliable workhorse of the Web.
UNIVERSAL SERIAL BUS: Got all the device manufacturers to settle on one device bus. Cats, meet herder.
MP3 AUDIO FORMAT: A file format that pretty much leveled an entire industry ' and movies are next.
FLASH: Scripting your Web page like a movie, or anything else, with almost zero-client footprint.
BROADBAND: Cable and Digital Subscriber Lines start to make an appearance in homes, and telecommuting becomes a real option.
GOOGLE: We'd call it the portal to the Web, except portals aren't this easy to use. The search bar is rapidly becoming the sippy cup of culture ' with more than partial thanks to Wikipedia, Google's query shortstop.
EXTENSIBLE MARKUP LANGUAGE: Data that tells us what our data is. But this data is in brackets, so we know what it means, more or less.
WI-FI: The network computer Libre! BLACKBERRY: Life support for your government executive, with its push technology making the difference.
VIRTUALIZATION FOR X86 ARCHITECTURES: Making the most of what you have.
OPEN SSH: Telneting securely, saving untold fortunes in KVM switches.
MICROSOFT.NET FRAMEWORK: A virtual machine independent of programming language. The future of Microsoft development.
SERVICEORIENTED ARCHITECTURE: SOA and Web services pave the way for a new generation of online government services.
WEB ONTOLOGY LANGUAGE: The beginning of the Semantic Web.
ADOBE FLEX: Flash development, open-sourced in 2007, for Rich Internet Applications.
MULTICORE PROCESSORS: More performance, less energy use; a wave of the future.
FACEBOOK API/GOOGLE OPEN SOCIAL API: Social network programming goes mainstream.
SPECIAL JUDGE'S AWARD: Evolving technologies for programmer nutrition: foods that can be eaten with one hand, such as Doritos with salsa; plus remote teleworking at Starbucks with a double-shot latte and raspberry muffin.
NEXT STORY: Products that rocked the boat