The World Wide Web (1989)
This year signified the World Wide Web's Silver Anniversary, even if most of us only put it to popular use over the past 15-20 years. In March 1989, British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who naturally has been knighted for his accomplishment) drafted a proposal to ease virtual communication through an interlinked series, or web, of e-notes. A year later, he created a browser, and in 1993, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), granted the technology into free, worldwide usage. The Web would, of course, decentralize how we receive and share information and change the planet. But it also enabled mischief-makers like Shawn Fanning to launch digital-music software such as Napster and YouTube's young founders to re-establish video as a relevant tool for artist promotion and expression. And let's not forget iTunes, Pandora, Dropbox and every other idea that folded and re-pitched the industry's tent in less than a decade. The Web was, without understatement, its century's phonograph and more.