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At long last, a Linux for the masses became a reality in the form of the easy-to-install and (relatively) easy-to-use Ubuntu. Dell’s even preinstalling it on PCs as a Windows alternative.
Instant messaging got its start with ICQ. Believe it or not, the now-cumbersome app is still being actively developed.
The most powerful graphics board of its time, ATI’s top seller was also the first card to support DirectX 9’s fully programmable shaders.
The best-selling computer game of ’98 is one of the most enduring strategy titles of all time. Nine years on, it’s still being used in professional gaming tournaments, especially in Korea, where StarCraft matches are regularly televised.
Socket 7 (see #35) wouldn’t work without a motherboard for it to sit on. Intel’s original Triton chipset also stabilized a frustrating PC industry, then marred by buggy third-party chipsets and incompatible technologies.
Sure, they were slow and prone to failure, but consider the alternative: 5.25-inch floppies. This hard-shelled storage standard at least got us through a decade and a half of portable storage.
Shawn Fanning made history in more ways than one with this P2P app/service. Everything from iTunes to BitTorrent owes its existence to Napster, and for that, Mr. Fanning, we thank you.
Microsoft itself refers to the IME 3.0’s comfort and control as “legendary,” and we won’t argue with that. This mouse finally made optical sensors the standard for PC mice. It was so popular Microsoft recently reissued it.
The beginning of multitasking! 386 Enhanced Mode let you use your newfangled 80386-based PC plus Windows 3.1 to run DOS apps in multiple resizable windows.
While Win98 was an evolutionary improvement over Win95, Win98 SE was a must-have upgrade because of one key feature: It let you use USB with far fewer headaches.