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80,259 News Articles

12 technologies that changed the world

From a TV remote to broadband

New technology appears daily, but only the rare breakthroughs really change our lives. Here are a dozen advances that transformed our world.

9. Apple iTunes (2003)

Yes, the iPod was and is a groovy little gadget, and so are the iPhone and the iPad. But without the music store, the iPod was just another gizmo for playing CDs you'd ripped and tunes you'd illegally downloaded (you know who you are).

Without the video store, we might still be waiting for Hollywood to release its death grip on content. And without the App Store, the iPhone would just be, well, a phone, and the iPad might not even exist.

Little wonder that more than 10 billion songs, 375 million TV shows and three billion apps have been downloaded since the iTunes Store opened its doors in April 2003. Giving people an easy way to buy content makes them – duh - want to buy content. It's something that entertainment industry execs apparently needed Steve Jobs to figure out for them.

10. Wordpress (2004)

Web blogs have completely rewritten the rules of media. Pick any topic and you'll find dozens, and possibly thousands, of blogs discussing it in mind-numbing detail. Now anyone can be a journalist and everyone's an expert (at least in their own minds).

Though no single platform is responsible for the phenomenon, the open source Wordpress (and its free blog hosting site, wordpress.org) is the big kahuna, particularly among the most popular blogs.

According to a July 2008 survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, one out of three Netizens reads blogs on a regular basis. They've become an essential part of any savvy company's media campaigns. Companies like Google and Facebook use their official blogs to make major product announcements, while companies like Apple find the mselves scooped by distinctly unofficial blogs. And for better or worse, blogs often drive the 24/7 news cycle. We have met the media, and it is us.

Artwork: Chip Taylor

NEXT PAGE: Capacitive touchscreens

  1. From a TV remote to broadband
  2. Atari Pong
  3. The IBM ThinkPad 700C
  4. Apple iTunes
  5. Capacitive touchscreens

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