By the middle of the year 2000, more than half of all households in the United States had access to the Internet. While there are some obvious pros and cons to this fact, at the end of the day, it shows just how vital computers were throughout the 2000s. They were in the home, at our schools, and part of our daily work routines. They were everywhere, and they were there to stay. Now, all that was left to do was to get sleeker, to get smaller, and to get more accessible. This energy is what defined computers in the 2000s. Let’s take a look at the timeline of events below.
After fear surrounding Y2K was ramped up in the months leading up to the year 2000 — with many going as far as to say that all telecommunications, financial institutions, and all other online infrastructures would collapse as 1999 turned to 2000 at midnight on December 31st — the so-called Y2K bug proved to be no real threat at all.
New Decade, New Millennium, New Operating System
Just a couple of months into 2000, Microsoft released Windows 2000: a massive release in the company’s history and for businesses alike. This particular operating system was geared specifically toward professionals and businesses, making it a trial run of sorts ahead of Windows XP Professional a year later.
Five years after the success of the PlayStation in 1995, 2000 saw the release of the PlayStation 2: an enormous step forward for video game consoles and still the best-selling video game console of all time. Its backward compatibility for both PlayStation games and controllers just goes to show how much it would pay for modern consoles to follow the PlayStation 2’s lead in this regard.
Now a staple of cell phones the world over, it wasn’t until 2000 that the first camera phone was introduced. Called the J-Phone J-SH04, the Japanese company SoftBank debuted the camera phone to great acclaim. It didn’t take long for this camera phone technology to become a vital component of nearly every cell phone that followed.
Storage In a Flash
The USB flash drive first emerged in 2000. Containing a small amount of flash memory inside a convenient plastic encasing and a USB interface, these flash drives caught on fast for the way they allowed users to store files, photos, videos, and other data with speed and ease.
Meet the New macOS
Taking advancements and features from the programming language developed under Steve Jobs during his time working at NeXT, Apple’s release of the latest macOS — Mac OS X — was a large departure from Apple’s operating systems of the past and just as big of a step forward toward the company’s future.
Xbox and Nintendo Enter the Ring
Microsoft entered the console wars in 2001 with the release of the Xbox. While Sony was already onto the PlayStation 2 at this point, the Xbox still drew lots of praise for its great graphics (thanks to Nvidia GPUs) and exclusive games. It was a major risk, but it paid off tremendously for Microsoft. Concurrently, Nintendo released their sixth console: The GameCube. While they had been in the console wars for longer than Sony and Microsoft combined, they still didn’t have the advantage. It was neck-and-neck-and-neck for these three, with computer games taking the back seat.
Dot Com Boom (or Doom?)
Because of the rapid rise and remarkable success of the World Wide Web in the late ‘90s, it seemed like anyone and everyone who could make a name for themselves online was raking in major dough. This led to a global scramble for a piece of the pie, and, eventually, a serious catastrophe of financial proportions when the pie ran out. Silicon Valley quickly shot to the top of the cash pile, only for those very same technology stocks to plummet 60% nearly as fast. Think of it as a modern-day Gold Rush.
BlackBerry Helps Set the Smartphone Stage
In March of 2002, technology company Research In Motion (a.k.a. RIM, now known as BlackBerry Ltd) released their first smartphone: The BlackBerry. The resulting success of the phone was unfathomable at the time. While the company had already released a couple of early versions — namely the RIM 850 and the RIM 857 — it wasn’t until the (much more snappily named) BlackBerry was released in 2002 that the smartphone could soar. Equipped with features and technology like email, text, calls, faxing, and even an Internet browser, the phone was a must-have for businesspeople across the globe.
The Dawn of Cinematic Computing
These are the words Nvidia used to describe its new family of GeForce FX products: “a dawn of cinematic computing.” Equipping 3D graphics cards and revolutionary support for vertex and pixel shaders, Nvidia’s product not only took computer graphics to new heights but also further cemented the company’s status as one of the leading brands of the time.
Social networks had come and gone before Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson’s new website MySpace, but it wasn’t until these two released their innovative site that the real promise of social networks was revealed. With file sharing, games, status updates, and more available to the site’s more than 100 million users in its first few years, MySpace reigned supreme. That is until Facebook stole its thunder several years later.
World of World of Warcraft
Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (or MMORPGs) had been around for a while before the release of World of Warcraft in 2004, but this was the game that truly changed the game (no pun intended). Focusing on a fantasy world with social, romantic, and action-packed capabilities, World of Warcraft soon became the top MMORPG on the computer games market and has stayed there ever since.
Google Tests the Waters
After the failure of the Dot Com Boom, it took several years for a website to be brave enough to go public on the stock market. In 2004, Google was that company. Google’s success as an email platform and a profitable search engine (which had been unheard of before the website’s debut) made them both a legitimately appealing stock and a sign that the web could make investors some major cash after all.
A Sequel to the Internet?
When the Internet was originally conceived, developers thought that it would be a place for people to make contributions and read others’ contributions as well. However, once the World Wide Web took hold of the world, it shifted to mainly be a place to simply read what others had written. In 2004, with the introduction of what eventually became known as Web 2.0, it started to become easier for people to blog, comment on, reply to, and edit webpages. With this, the Internet could finally become what it was meant to be.
Lenovo Takes Ownership of the PC
IBM’s debut of the PC in 1981 was one of the most significant advancements in the history of popular computers. However, there’s a lot that took place in the quarter-century on the timeline between then and 2005. As the marketplace became more and more crowded, it became clear that IBM simply couldn’t keep up anymore. As a result, they sold their ThinkPads and other PCs to Chinese manufacturer Lenovo in 2005. It made them the biggest and most important PC manufacturer in history.
The Pros Arrive
Apple brought the MacBook Pro to the world in January of 2006, complete with Intel-based dual cores, a webcam, and many other improvements to the MacBook’s standard features — including design, speed, and storage. While laptops had been all the rage for years at this point, the MacBook Pro showed both professional and casual users alike that even the most popular computers and brands could still deliver serious power on the go.
Console Wars Continue
The battle raging on between Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo came to a head with the release of the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, and the Nintendo Wii within a single year (and the last two within a week of one another). While they all saw different forms of success in different markets and age groups, the Wii came out on top with nearly 15 million more sales than the Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360. Meanwhile, computer games continued to enjoy a steady but smaller following.
Up In the Clouds
Even though the minds behind the technology would likely want you to think the cloud was a novel new invention in 2006, the facts are that the programming language behind the ever-popular storage solution had been around since the 1960s, and Amazon Web Services simply brought it up to date. The cloud made it easy for a person, a business, or an entire online infrastructure to access remote storage with speed and convenience. While you could spend all day outlining the pros and cons of cloud storage, its necessity and use are proved by its staying power over the years.
By bringing together the power of popular computers, the features of the most advanced programming language, the design of an expensive-looking piece of tech, and the speed of the most high-tech devices on the market, Apple managed to change the world with one single word: iPhone. Part Internet browser, part MP3 player, part cell phone, part camera, part instant messenger, part PDA, the advancements made by the iPhone effectively rewired the brains of consumers everywhere. Immediately, everyone had to have one. Apple continues to make improvements to the iPhone to this very day with no signs of slowing anytime soon.
Apple, Meet Android
A year after Apple debuted the iPhone and showed the world its innovative OS, Google took a crack at the design of its own mobile programming language with Android. Largely intended for touchscreen phones and tablets and rooted in Google’s technological capabilities, Android soon had its own set of loyal followers not unlike Apple’s loyalists. The brands quickly became close competitors after this point on the timeline.
Checking Out with Bitcoin
The pros and cons of cryptocurrency seemingly know no end, especially as prices continue to fluctuate up and down in perpetuity. Despite these facts, there’s no doubt early investors in crypto can’t be too mad about its overall success. 2009 saw the release of Bitcoin, arguably the most well-known crypto coin around, and those who got in on the ground floor when the price of one Bitcoin was less than $1 are looking at tens of thousands of dollars in profit today.
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