The Best Cybertech of 2000

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It was a boom year for America. That means lots of people were buying lots of expensive stuff they didn't really need. In other words, it was a bumper year for gadgets. If it wasn't electronic, we made it electronic. If it was already electronic, we combined it with something else electronic, made it smaller and taught it how to play Edelweiss. And somewhere in there we managed to build technologies that will change the way we live, work and relate to one another. It was a great year to be a geek.

1 WWW.NAPSTER.COM Any song. Any time. Free. That's the beauty of Napster, the simple computer program written by college dropout Shawn Fanning that sparked a global frenzy of music sharing. With its 38 million converts, even Metallica and its legions of lawyers won't get this genie back into its bottle.

2 NIKON COOLPIX990 Digital photography finally became cheap enough, easy enough and good enough for the rest of us. This Nikon takes pictures that look as good as those on film, and its preview function--you can erase the flops--does film one better. No wonder 5 million people bought digital cameras in 2000.

3 THE SIMS It's the Game of Life for the millennium. You control a family of suburbanites. You go to work, you cook dinner, you mow the lawn--no aliens, no spaceships, no rocket launchers. How do you win? You don't--you just try to stay happy. Kind of like real life.

4 THE HUNGER SITE It's as simple as this: every time you click on the Hunger Site's home page, a donation goes to the hungry, paid for by the site's advertisers. It's a welcome antidote to the feeding frenzy of the get-rich-quick dotcommies.

5 KOZMO.COM How do you measure the worth of a website that delivers videos, munchies, toiletries and electronics to your door within an hour of your clicking in an order? If the ever plummeting NASDAQ is a guide, may not be around much longer. But we'll sure miss it when it's gone.

6 F--KEDCOMPANY.COM:,, was the year their bright and shiny dotcom promises turned to bitter ashes. This website with its unprintable name that suggests an unseemly demise has become essential reading for its gleeful tracking of the Internet industry's dot bombs, layoff by layoff.

7 VISORPHONE Clamp the VisorPhone on your Handspring Visor (a cheaper clone of the Palm), tap a number in your address book and--bang!--look who's talking. This will be remembered as the year the cell phone and the PDA finally married.

8 PAYPAL At last, a simple and easy way to "wire" money--even tiny amounts of it--online. You can use it to send your deadbeat brother five bucks via e-mail, or to pay $200 for those vintage Care Bears you bought on eBay. It's quickly getting to be the medium of choice for small-scale e-commerce.

9 THE SONY MUSIC CLIP The first of the portable digital music players to really show us what makes them so cool. They're tiny, they're light, they don't skip even when you jog, and they look like something Q would issue to Agent 007. Nobody does it better.

10 THE RIM 957 WIRELESS HANDHELD E-mail is still the Internet's killer app, and the RIM 957 is the wireless gadget of choice for on-the-go e-mail addicts. A large, readable screen has been grafted onto a teensy keyboard, giving PDA features to the seriously info obsessed.