Year in review: The look of tech
You can judge tech by its cover.
The outward appearance of a new pocket-size gadget or a roomful of supercomputer may not tell you everything, but it does make an impression. And in 2005, Apple Computer easily made the biggest impression, with a pair of iPods--the flash-based Shuffle and the
skinny-as-can-be Nano--and with the desktop Mac Mini.
Sony, meanwhile, tried to cash in on the iPod craze with a redesign of its onetime audio franchise,
the Walkman, including a bean-shaped device. Phone makers also kept the design mill busy: The acclaim was especially thunderous for
Motorola's Razr, but
Japan's NEC and Finland's Nokia proved no slouches.
Small, portable and affordable were top considerations for people like MIT's Nicholas Negroponte, who's leading an effort to bring $100 laptops to the masses. At the same time, luxurious touches were on the drawing board for others in the
laptop business, including Intel.
At the other end of the hardware spectrum, IBM unveiled its
Blue Gene/L supercomputer amid fierce competition for high-end bragging rights. The innards of computers also showed themselves worthy of a closer look, for both their technical merits and their artistic potential.
Software isn't often considered a photogenic subject, but there's a reason that "look" is the first word in the phrase "look and feel," the aesthetic aspect that code writers ignore at their peril. Software applications that got intense scrutiny during 2005 included
Vista (formerly Longhorn), Microsoft's next version of Windows; Apple's Mac OS X version 10.4, also known as Tiger; the Google Earth satellite-mapping application and the
Google Base information-sharing service.
The honchos of the high-tech world spend plenty of time in front of the camera, perhaps no one more so than Bill Gates. A high point of the year for Microsoft's chairman came in March, when he met with Queen Elizabeth II to receive an honorary knighthood; he also spent some quality time with U2 lead singer Bono and shook hands with longtime antagonist Rob Glaser of RealNetworks.
Chip industry luminary Gordon Moore was feted on the 40th anniversary of his namesake law, while PC maven Michael Dell sported some traditional Indian makeup. On stage at an Apple event later in the year, CEO Steve Jobs had some software fun at his own expense.
You don't have to be famous to be photogenic, though. Protesters in Brussels, for instance, put a human face on the controversy over software patents. Everyday folk just about everywhere proved more than willing to gather at midnight for a first crack at new games and
And even if we sometimes feel that technology has us tied to the desktop, there are plenty of opportunities to get up and get around--checking the accuracy, say, of online mapping services on the streets of San Francisco or getting a caricature drawn on a tablet PC in a London park. During 2005, CNET News.com reporters also dropped in on tech scenes in locales from Tunis, Tunisia, to Bangalore, India, to the Nevada desert.
From glitzy cutting-edge products to celebs and maddening crowds, CES 2005 has it all.
The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure rallies hundreds in Brussels to argue against an EU plan for software patents.
Bill Gates heads to Buckingham Palace to receive an honorary knighthood. Just don't call him "sir."
At the 46th Paris Air Show, visitors get a glimpse of tomorrow's aircraft.
Google Earth begins with a satellite view of the world. You can control the globe with your mouse.
At its developer forum, the chipmaker unveils an array of processors intended for small and sleek systems.
A pool-monitoring system in Wales spots a motionless child underwater and pages the lifeguard.
Apple unveils iPod Nano
The slimmest member of the musical line is the Nano, which can hold 1,000 songs and is about as thick as a No. 2 pencil.
New looks for Vista, Office
Bill Gates kicks off Microsoft's developer confab in LA with updates on Windows Vista and Office 12.
The Silicon Zoo holds plenty of surprises, from tiny trains to Marvin the Martian.
Concept cars at Tokyo Motor Show include fuel cell vehicles, Nissan's spinning Pivo and a Honda wagon for the dogs.
Supercomputers ready for work
At the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Blue Gene/L and the ASC Purple prepare to show their colors.
MIT's Nicholas Negroponte shows off a hand-cranked laptop designed for kids in developing nations.
A collection of photo galleries featuring household helpers, mechanical soccer players, tools for soldiers and driverless cars.