Timeline of Computer History


World of Warcraft characters

World of Warcraft comes on-line

After ten years as a series of strategy games, Blizzard Entertainment launches World of Warcraft, a Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) version of their popular Warcraft franchise. Centered on the fantasy world of Azeroth, Warcraft allows players to choose an avatar to go “questing.” Players form guilds and raiding parties, as well as form strong social, and even romantic, connections through the game’s built-in chat function. World of Warcraft has been dominant in the MMORPG market since its release.


Noogler (new Googler) hat worn by fresh recruits

Google’s IPO and the New, Slow Boom

In 2004, Google is the first major Web company to float a publicly traded stock since the go-go days of the dot-com boom. This is a direct result of Google solving the eternal problem plaguing all previous search engines – how to profit from search. The secret turns out to be a discreet form of advertising, based on auctioning off keywords to appear as "sponsored results" within a search results page. Many people take Google's Initial Public Offering (IPO) as a sign that the Web is not only back from its deep trough after the crash but entering a new period of expansion, and many other IPOs follow Beneath it all, of course, the Web continues to steadily grow as it has since the early 1990s.


Anonymous members protesting Scientology

Hacker group Anonymous forms

Forming out of interactions on the image-sharing website 4chan, Anonymous is a loose association of users, many of whom consider themselves 'hacktivists'. Their activities started as purely digital publicity stunts and protests that included the hacking of websites for groups like the Church of Scientology and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Later targets included many government agencies around the world. In public, many Anonymous affiliates (referred to as Anons) can be identified by their wearing of Guy Fawkes masks.


Opportunity self-portrait on Mars

Opportunity and Spirit Mars Rovers land on Mars

Caltech designs both the Opportunity and Spirit Mars Rovers. Both landed in 2004 and ran 20 times longer than their planned lifetime of 90 days. While Spirit ceased to move in 2009 and communications from the rover stopped in 2010, Opportunity far exceeded its expected lifetime.


Blogger, launched in 1999

“Web 2.0” brings back Interactivity

The original Web concept, and many pre-Web systems, had depended heavily on user contributions. Yet many 1990s Web sites had been more like traditional TV or radio broadcasting, with providers feeding content to passive surfers. Partly this had been because dominant Web browsers lacked editing capability. From the early 2000s a number of sites begin helping users generate and shape content: wikis, blogs, social networking sites, and more. Photo and video sharing sites take advantage of the spread of faster Internet connections to let users both upload and browse those media.

O’Reilly and Associates popularizes the name “Web 2.0” with their 2004 conference of that name. Most browsers still don't support Web page editing, but Web 2.0 sites find various workarounds – from wiki and blogging software to commenting features – to give users a voice.