1999 High-Tech Highlights

looking back
1999 was a landmark year for the Internet and other hi-tech industries.

But for most Americans, 1999 was a big fat ZERO. Two zeros in fact, as the nation and the world prepared for the so-called Millennium bug.

Billions of dollars were spent on new computers and fixes for old ones as we battled a problem born at the dawn of the electronic age. The glitch: many older computers and devices couldn't recognize the year 2000.

If Y2K wasn't enough, many computer users had to fight off terrorist attacks of sorts. The most notable in 1999: the Melissa Virus.

Police arrested a New Jersey man for creating the e-mail virus Melissa, which clogged computer systems around the world.

"We can't get into this individual's mind at this point," explained New Jersey's Attorney General Peter Verniero. "I think there is a strong message we are sending here today - that if you tamper with communications of this sort you will be prosecuted."

Many new products were hot in 1999. Consumers lapped up DVDs, and handheld personal assistants like the Palm Pilot, but High Definition Television sets, which promised a whole new view on the world of entertainment, sat on shelves as shoppers waited for prices to come down.

It seemed Americans finally began to feel comfortable with shopping online. Websites like registered record sales, and the Chief Executive of the company was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.

But while the government battled Microsoft in the courtroom over anti-trust issues, and personal computer makers slugged it out with price wars at local stores, the big story for 1999 and beyond may be inside a simple wire.

"Broadband technology will enable greater quantities of data and information to travel just to enhance the Internet experience, to keep up with the demand of multimedia that consumers are pounding the table for," explains CBS MarketWatch Correspondent Stephanie O'Brien.

Analysts say it'll be the "need for speed" in the year 2000 and beyond that will drive the industry.

Return to 1999: A Look Back

Written by Drew Levinson.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved