December 28, 2009, 10:10 PM — For the ten-year span that started in 2000, turbulence was the name of the game in high tech. Fortunes were made and lost, everyday users took control of the reins, and technology-watching became a spectator sport. It was a chaotic time, but it was seldom dull. Here, then, is a look at the decade that was: the highlights and lowlights, the booms and busts, the fizzles and sizzles.
1. Y2K Fizzles: 2000 started not with a bang but with a whimper. Dire predictions of computer systems going haywire, mass power outages, travel disruptions, and maybe even a run on squirrel jerky simply didn't happen, as the Year 2000 Problem turned out to be more hiccup than heartbreak. Did all the Y2K-bug-squishing task forces save us from disaster? Or was the whole affair not quite as dire as advertised? We may never know for sure. So let's raise a glass and offer a New Year's toast to one of life's eternal mysteries.
2. Dot-Bomb and the Death of the Build-It-and-They-Will-Come Business Model: In the late 1990s, the stock market--fueled by investment in high tech--was on a roll, new tech companies were launching every day, and even Alan Greenspan's talk of "irrational exuberance" couldn't dim our enthusiasm. Venture capitalists were pouring money into shaky new Websites. The sites scaled up as quickly as possible, even without a demonstrated revenue stream or business model. By mid-2000, the dot-com bubble had burst, taking the economy and many people's livelihoods with it. Boo.com, Pets.com, Webvan: It was fun while it lasted.