The 50 Best Tech Products of All Time

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Best Tech Products Numbers 26 to 30

26. CompuServe (1982)

CompuServer (1982)
Founded in 1969,
CompuServe was likely the first major bulletin board system open to the public. It's certainly the most noteworthy. CompuServe pioneered the wide use of e-mail (in 1978!) and introduced a primitive version of the chat room in 1980. By the early eighties, the system began to take shape and evolve into what it would look like for years: a massive online information service with pay-per-minute dial-up access in dozens of cities, and even overseas. Two things ultimately led to CompuServe's decline--the rise of the more noob-friendly AOL (which ultimately acquired it) and, of course, the Internet.

27. Blizzard World of Warcraft (2004)

Who'd have thought that a massively multiplayer online RPG based on a strategy game would become such a hit? It's hard to believe that World of Warcraft has been around for only two years, but what a ride those two years have been. Now with expansion packs and accessories, WoW has more than 8 million players worldwide, and it even inspired a "South Park" episode. WoW is easily the most popular MMORPG ever made, handily bypassing progenitors like Ultima Online and Everquest. True, both of those games paved the way for WoW, but each topped out at well under a million players.

28. Aldus PageMaker (1985)

Aldus PageMaker (1985)
infographic: Courtesy of GUIdebook: Graphical User Interface Gallery
One big promise from the early days of computing was desktop publishing, which assured us we'd all be printing brochures, magazines, and professional-grade reports on our PCs, using WYSIWYG tools. As one of the first desktop publishing programs,
Aldus PageMaker was the app of choice for several years, providing a simple way to lay out text, graphics, and other elements together on a page. Aldus was acquired by Adobe in 1994, and PageMaker is still around (as version 7), but it has long been displaced by the higher-end QuarkXPress and Adobe's own InDesign.

29. HP LaserJet 4L (1993)

HP LaserJet 4L (1993)
Photograph: Courtesy of HP
Before the LaserJet 4L came on the scene, printing a professional-looking resume meant either purchasing a very large and very expensive printer or heading down to a print shop and paying pricey per-page fees (as well as reprinting fees, since the first page never came out quite the way you wanted it to). With the
4L (pdf), the era of personal laser printing arrived. It was small enough to fit comfortably on a table and cost $849, the first laser to be priced at under $1000 out of the gate. The workhorse LaserJet 4L can still be found on some PC World editors' desks, and can be had for less than $50 on eBay.

30. Apple Mac OS X (2001)

With its tenth major iteration of the Macintosh operating system, Apple tossed its aging core out the window and did the unthinkable, adopting a Unix implementation as the kernel for OS X. Would the intricacies of a Unix-based system go over with Mac diehards, who had always valued Apple's ease of use and intuitiveness? It seems so. OS X (now up to version 10.4) has possibly been a bigger hit than anyone could have imagined, and its visual flourishes have set the bar for modern OSs. Many observers claim that Microsoft Vista's Aero is a brazen rip-off of OS X's Aqua interface. You be the judge.

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