Cybertech: The Best Cybertech of 1999

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1 EBAY O.K., so it's prone to outages. It has a few white elephants. It may not even be the best auction website. But this year, eBay became an economic phenomenon second only to the stock market. Every day, 250,000 new items are added and 1.5 million visitors make bids. Even the President praised the site and admitted trading on it. Is there anyone who hasn't?

2 DREAMCAST Few expected this game machine from Sega to make a splash in the U.S. after it slumped in Japan. But it did, clocking up sales in the millions thanks to an impressive lineup of must-have, movie-quality games such as NFL2K and Soul Calibur. The amphibious Dreamcast lets you surf the Net too. Not bad for $199.

3 MP3 Not since CDs arrived has the music world been in such a tizzy over technology. Mpeg-3, a longtime standard for digital music on the Net, entered the spotlight this year when issued its IPO and MP3 players were declared legal. Now you don't need a recording label to make it big--and industry execs are playing catch-up.

4 SIM CITY 3000 More than just a game, this worthy successor to the you-are-the-mayor classic takes world building to a new level. The urban landscapes you can create are so detailed that you can actually see people living in them. And the ability to post cities online (at lets your legacy live on.

5 PALM VII So you want wireless Web access in your pocket? Which gadget are you going to go for--a cell phone with its fiddly little buttons, or a pda (personal digital assistant) with a neat little stylus and large screen? The best answer this year was the Palm VII, which gives you a smorgasbord of e-mail, news, sports and stock tickers, all for $9.99 a month. By the way, it's also an organizer.

6 EVERQUEST Materializing out of thin air like a magic cloak, Sony's 3-D online fantasy world quickly stole the role-playing crown from Ultima Online. Creating virtual Dungeons & Dragons environments is all the rage--Microsoft has since started treading the same turf with Asheron's Call--but Everquest's superior software puts it sword and shield above the rest.

7 GOOGLE.COM With sites such as Yahoo, Infoseek and Excite constantly beefing themselves up into the online equivalent of mega-malls, it's refreshing to find a search engine that does nothing but search. And search well. Google's award-winning, commonsense approach nearly always seems to come up with exactly what you're looking for.

8 OMIKRON What other game boasts a virtual David Bowie? French designer Quantic Dream drops you into a parallel world that owes much to Blade Runner and 1984. With more than 400 locations--including the club where Bowie's character sings--Omikron is a game you don't so much play as live.

9 LINUX November's anti-Microsoft court ruling was the icing on the cake for Linus Torvalds' operating system. Because it is "open source"--anyone can fix bugs in its code--Linux is the least crash-prone system around. That makes it a credible alternative to Windows.

10 THE ONION The funniest site on the Internet shows no sign of losing its satiric edge. Now it has conquered Old Media with the best seller Our Dumb Century. Web migration, it seems, is not a one-way ticket.