25 Days That Changed Everything

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January 1, 2000, through July 9, 2001

Y2K Fails to Wreak Havoc

Illustration: Robert Neubecker
January 1, 2000
Nothing happened on this day--in part because companies spent hundreds of billions of dollars fixing software to prevent major errors. But the most feverish forecasts--nuclear plants melting down, prison gates opening, electrical grids dying--were based more on anxiety and naiveté about how computers work than on actual threats.

The Feds Declare Microsoft a Monopoly

April 3, 2000 In United States v. Microsoft, the government accused the company of abusing its alleged monopoly over operating systems to control the Web browser market by integrating Internet Explorer into Windows and punishing PC vendors for installing other browsers. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's decision, issued on this date, was followed by a judgment ordering Microsoft to split into two business units--a ruling overturned on appeal. But the protracted legal wrangling made Microsoft a kinder, gentler competitor--or at least a more cautious one.

The Napster Free Ride Ends

July 26, 2000

Judge Marilyn Patel ruled on a Wednesday that the popular music service must shut down by Friday, Net traffic shot through the roof. Napster users sent the entertainment business a message: Give me convenience, or give me death. The name has since been revived for a paid service, but "to Napster" still means to digitally undermine a business based on locked-up copies.

Webvan Checks Out

July 9, 2001

With its fleet of tony delivery trucks and massive warehouses, the online grocer became the poster child for the excesses and doomed enterprises of the dot-com boom. Webvan's hoped-for explosion of online grocery orders failed to materialize, and
the company entered bankruptcy on this date. The lesson: People will buy books and CDs online, but they'd rather handle their own lettuce--and skip the delivery fees.

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