Top 25 Products of the Last 25 Years
1. The IBM PC
With a brand that said “business machine” and an open architecture that invited third-party innovation, the IBM PC transformed the IT industry.
2. Mosaic Web Browser
Influential out of all proportion to the number of users it’s had, the Mosaic browser launched the era of browsable content and the broad adoption of repurposeable markup language.
Archetype of open-source process and engine of the Web as we know it, Apache is both an ongoing project and an incubator for related innovation.
4. Intel i386 Processor
Defining a 32-bit standard and paving the way for desktop hardware virtualization in multitasking platforms, the i386 still casts its shadow (a mixed blessing) on PCs today.
Before there was Novell NetWare, Banyan VINES or 3Com 3+, there was the Xerox foundation that grandfathered innumerable pronouncements of “Year of the LAN.”
6. The Linux Kernel
Whether or not the Linux phenomenon should really be called “GNU/Linux,” the little kernel that could has catalyzed a trifold revolution of technology, process and market.
7. VMware x86
Virtualization Building on Intel’s bare-bones foundation, VMware brought new levels of manageability to PC-based technology and redefined the enterprise data center.
8. Apple Macintosh
Streamlining the Xerox-developed WIMP user interface and supporting it with ingenious software and elegant hardware, the original Mac is still the essence of modern computing.
Putting strong encryption in the hands of everyman, PGP served notice to sovereign spooks that citizen crypto would forever after be an inconvenient truth.
10. Compaq Portable
Though its 34-pound weight broadened awareness of spinal disorders, the Compaq Portable created the modern road warrior.
11. Adobe PDF and Acrobat
With inspired innovation in platform-independent rendering of formatted content, Adobe’s PDF technologies and tools liberate users and business processes from the limits of paper.
12. Lotus 1-2-3
With user-interface innovation that gave rise to look-and-feel lawsuits, and with tight and fast code that imposed strict standards for “IBM compatibility,” Lotus 1-2-3 was often the compelling argument for buying a first PC.
13. Cisco IOS
Cisco’s powerfully programmable platform kicked off a cascade of dramatic growth in network intelligence.
14. Ashton-Tate dBase II
With enough database rigor to be useful and enough programmability to build custom solutions quickly, dBase II led to displacement of many minicomputers by PCs.
15. Palm Pilot
With an almost Zen-like minimalism of both software and hardware complexity, the Palm Pilot was no more than users needed—and exactly what many wanted.
16. Linksys 802.11 Routers
Widely used, cleverly hacked, affordably acquired and deployed, Linksys Wi-Fi hardware energized the wireless-network tsunami.
17. Shiva LanRover
By no means the only product of its kind, Shiva’s LANRover is still a worthy exemplar of the VPN technology that’s made public networks suitable for private transactions.
18. Phoenix BIOS
The basal ganglia of an “IBM-compatible” PC, Phoenix’s BIOS sent in the clones.
19. Red Hat Linux
Fueling a business model with the energy of the Linux revolution, Red Hat served as an existence proof for open-source enterprise offerings.
20. Microsoft Visual Basic
Reinventing the developer experience of constructing interactive applications, Visual Basic paved the way for the crushing dominance of Windows.
21. Network General Sniffer
Dubbed “the Kleenex of network analysis” by members of eWEEK Labs, the Network General Sniffer defined its genre.
22. Lotus Notes
Perhaps still the leading demonstration of how to do collaborative groupware, Lotus Notes may gain new leverage as its creator takes up the technology reins at Microsoft.
23. Windows 95
Despite its 32-bit lipstick on the pig of 16-bit DOS, Windows 95 merged the world of the Web into the mainstream desktop computing environment.
24. Microsoft Office
Mashing up the formerly separate markets of word processors, spreadsheets and databases, Microsoft Office brought forth new synergies for users—and for malware writers.
If the first generation of PCs was about empowerment, the second generation is at least as much about protection—and Nessus offers high-end defense for the midtier user.