A third of the year has spun by and the headlines on the news sites remain almost universally frustrating. It seems like we just aren’t making any progress in so many fields—war, the economy, global warming, poverty, the whole slate. Until we look back, say, to 10 years ago to remember how we lived then. We sometimes forget how much of an improvement technology has made in our lives in just a decade or so. From a site called The People History, here are some of the devices and developments of 1998 that changed us forever:

  • Microsoft released its Windows 98 operating system
  • E-commerce began to emerge, with an eruption of online stores
  • With its MSN site, Microsoft launched its first online search engine
  • A search engine called Google was founded
  • The FDA approved Viagra
  • Apple began selling a computer called the iMAC

What a different world we live in now! We take for granted our ability to go online anytime from anywhere to shop in seconds, to find out everything about anything or anyone with a few keywords, and to direct our physicians toward the pharmaceuticals we want, rather than just the ones they recommend.

Our society may be deteriorating around the edges, but I think it’s stronger at its core with the technology that has continued to expand as a foundation for our lifestyles and productivity. What inventions over the past year will mark yet more technological tipping points when we look back in, say, 2018? Here are a few nominations from 2007-08:

  • Microsoft’s unified communications, tearing down the boundaries between computers and phones
  • Apple’s iPhone
  • Hulu.com, a site where several TV networks aggregate full episodes of their current and past TV shows for viewing on computers.
  • Transformation of the “green” movement into green technology, from sustainable materials in vehicles to HFC-free, superefficient Coke machines

What innovations would you nominate? Perhaps it’s too early to be listing nominations, though; the pace of technology has sped to the point where, eight months from now, we’ll have new devices, new versions and new approaches that make April, 2008 seem “so yesterday.”

— Steve Friedman