This timeline excludes a few technologies that might seem obvious choices, but they appeared before 1982. The Internet, for instance, was designed in 1974, though it did not open up until the 1980s. Personal digital assistants first appeared in 1975. TCP/IP goes back to the 1970s. Even in a time of accelerated technology advancements, innovations take time to gestate ' wikis, which have caught fire in recent years, date to 1995.
IBM PC: Computers as a low-cost assemblage of electronic Lego parts made every neighborhood electronics geek a computer technician and every small office and home work room a data center.
RELATIONAL DATABASES: The second generation of RDBMS systems began to take hold.
GPS/GIS: The Global Positioning System was opened for use by civilian aircraft in 1983, beginning a trend that ' combined with great advances in geographic information systems and mapping tools ' led to agency data visualized in layered maps and cars telling their drivers where to turn.
CD-ROM for computers: Flattened two entire industries, data storage and music dissemination.
Its successor, the DVD (1996), killed off the video tape.
FLASH MEMORY: Invented in 1984 at Toshiba, it found its place in small devices.
Smart phones, digital cameras, other devices (and, soon, laptops) all rely on Flash.
NETWORK FILE SYSTEM: The file system that brought us to the age of network storage. No longer would your data be hostage to the computer in which it was created ' or to backup tape.
POWERPOINT: The one you love to hate. All the knowledge in the world boiled down to easy, succinct, bullet-pointed meaninglessness.
PERL: God's own duct tape, at least when working in Unix-based systems.