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20 most important stories of the last 20 years

Mar 27, 20064 mins
AT&TEnterprise ApplicationsIBM

A collage of Network World articles.

The network industry has been shaped over the last 20 years by a series of remarkable technology advances and blockbuster business moves, and has been tested by more than its fair share of negative incidents.


Goodbye and hello, AT&T.One of the most famous companies in the history of business, AT&T, succumbed to drastic changes in the market and years of bad management calls and accepted SBC’s $16 billion buyout bid. The consolation prize: AT&T’s name got to live on as that of the combined company. And before you know it, AT&T started to put itself back together again, bidding $67 billion on BellSouth.



Slammer lays down the hammer.The MS-SQL Slammer worm wreaked havoc across the ‘Net, blasting through an estimated half-million vulnerable servers in the span of a week and making its effects felt for months afterward. A JP Morgan Chase spokesman said at the time: “We shut down our online banking.”


Ebbers, WorldCom meltdown.Bernie Ebbers resigned as CEO of WorldCom amid his questionable financial dealings and the company’s collapse. MCI soon filed for bankruptcy protection, but later emerged and was bought by Verizon.


E-commerce gets whacked.Web attackers took down Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, and E*Trade with massive attacks. Shortly afterward, a group of leading Internet companies congregated to come up with best practices for turning back such attacks.


Microsoft’s monopoly.U.S. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that Microsoft is a monopoly, though three years later another judge approved a settlement that most agree did not dramatically change the way the company does business.


IBM throws in the net towel.The company, once a leading network equipment player, sold its switching and routing businesses to archrival Cisco.


Netscape sells out.Beaten down by Microsoft, Netscape gave up going it alone and agrees to a $4.2 billion buyout by AOL.No more DEC.Compaq paid $9.6 billion for the once-dominant minicomputer maker. Digital Equipment Corp. was divvied up among a number of companies, including Cabletron, Intel and Oracle.


Cutting the cords with .The IEEE released the 802.11 standard, paving the way for real wireless LANs, plus hot spots, rogue access points and .


Reforming telecom.Congress issued the Telecommunications Act of 1996, knocking down barriers in local and long-distance services, cable television and other markets. The eventual consolidation of the and major interexchange carriers was never envisioned.


IBM takes Notes.IBM acquired messaging pioneer Lotus for $3.5 billion and went on to do battle with Microsoft in collaboration and e-mail software.Microsoft discovers the Internet.Bill Gates issues his famous “The Internet Tidal Wave” memo, formally recognizing the Web’s potential a few years after many others did. Still, Microsoft was able to catch up in a hurry.Ethernet everywhere.The Fast Ethernet standard emerged, sending 100VG-AnyLAN, token ring and other technologies to the sideline and paving the way for Gigabit and 10Gbps Ethernet and forcing down prices.


Pssst: GOSIP is dead.After five years of development, the federal government pulled the plug on the Government Open Systems Interconnection Profile (GOSIP) and gave the nod to .


Linux is born.It took a while for most of us to catch on, but Linus Torvalds was on to something when he developed the Linux kernel at the University of Helsinki.


OS/2 vs. Windows.Microsoft and IBM split on OS/2 and Windows development. We all know who made out on that deal.


Welcome to the Web.Tim Berners-Lee of the European Partical Physics Lab proposed the World Wide Web, paving the way for Marc Andreessen and the rest.


Hinsdale burns.A fire in Illinois Bell’s Hinsdale central office damaged most of the 50,000 circuits supported by the switch. The incident provided a wake-up call about disaster recovery at carriers and corporate IT shops. keeps it simple.The first RFCs for the network-management protocol emerged, and SNMP went on to have a long and low-key career. CMIP anyone?


E-mail gets connected.MCI Mail and CompuServe linked their e-mail networks, marking the start of really useful messaging.

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