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section heading icon     landmarks

This page highlights particular incidents during the 'dot-com decade'.

It covers -


Context is provided by the more general communications and media timeline on this site and by notes such as those on merger & acquisition benchmarks, 'old media' takeover of internet companies, telecommunication sector privatisations and takeovers.

subsection heading icon     1990

World Wide Web described by Tim Berners-Lee

Telecom New Zealand privatised through sale to Bell Atlantic and Ameritech for NZ$4.25bn

Telmex privatised through US$1.7bn sale to Grupo Carso, Southwestern Bell and France Télécom

Clear Communications begins competition against Telecom NZ

Electronic Frontier Foundation founded

Americans With Disabilities Act in US

Mannesmann launches D2 mobile network in Germany

Operation Sundevil in US against hackers

first commercial provider of dial-up net access

first palmtop computers

IBM's revenue reaches US$68.9bn, with 400,000 employees worldwide

99% of US households have at least one radio

Dun & Bradstreet pays US$333m for Management Science America

Moravec's Mind Children

US business uses 4 trillion pages of paper

Packer regains control of Nine television network

NZ Telecom sold to Bell Atlantic, Ameritech & Fay Richwhite

section marker     1991

Matsushita buys MCA

AT&T acquires NCR for US$7.3bn

GTE buys Contel for US$6.6bn

SITA establishes Scitor as global data services provider

UK government sells 25.8% of British Telecom

IBM's first revenue decline in 45 years

IBM sells ROLM to Siemens

Line Mode Browser - the first internet browser

Australia as An Information Society report

CNN dominates news coverage worldwide during Gulf War

Denver trial of VOD - over 1,000 titles but no profits

over 4 billion videocassette rentals in the US

75% of US homes reported to own VCRs, 60% have cable tv

US Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Computer Associates buys Pansophic for US$300m

Feist copyright decision by US Supreme Court

end of NSF's internet 'Acceptable Use' policy

section marker     1992

Maastricht Treaty on European Union

US cable television revenue reaches US$22 billion

US has 10 million mobile phone subscribers

China has 11.8m phone subscribers

LDDS merges with Advanced Telecommunications for US$850m

United Telephone renamed Sprint

900 million TV sets in the world; 201 million in the US

45.4% of Italian families have a VCR

first use of the phrase "surfing the net" by Jean Armour Polly

first SMS to a mobile phone

Moving Picture Experts Group agree on MPEG Audio Layer III, aka MP3

at least 50 US cities have competing cable services

Australian Disability Discrimination Act

US Audio Home Recording Act

Gilder's Life After Television

TCI chair John Malone predicts "500 channel universe"

US National Science Foundation appoints NSI to manage dot-com, dot-net and dot-org domain names

Internet Society (ISOC) founded

Deutsche Bundespost Telekom and France Telecom form Eunetcom

Control Data spins off software arm, renames itself Ceridian

section marker     1993

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

proposed merger of TCI and Bell Atlantic collapses

DVD invented by Toshiba

est 10 million fax machines deployed in US

V-chip proposed for TV content control

Mosaic - first graphical internet browser

Kodak and Apple produce first digital still image camera for consumers

Cisco buys Crescendo for US$97m

Fosters buys Cascade

GTE sells Sylvania lighting and materials operations to Osram

Bay Networks formed through US$2.7bn merger of Synoptics and WellFleet

LDDS buys Resurgens Communications Group and Metromedia Communications for US$1.25bn to create fourth-largest US long distance phone network

Primus Telecommunications founded

Australian MEDLINE network closes

UK government sells 21% of British Telecom for £5bn

France Telecom acquires most Compagnie Generale des Eaux cable networks

Sprint merges with Centel to become only major US telco providing long distance, local and wireless services

CANARIE established in Canada

Tucows founded as software download service

New Zealand Privacy Act

IBM posts US$8.1bn loss

Ameritech and Bell Atlantic reduce Telecom New Zealand stake to a combined 49.6%

BellSouth NZ establishes mobile network in New Zealand

China has 17.8m phone subscribers

section marker     1994

LDDS buys IDB Communications Group for US$936m

MCI and BT form US$1bn Concert Communication Services joint venture

BT takes 20% stake in MCI for US$4.3bn

Monster Board (later Monster.com) founded

Danish government sells 49% of Tele Danmark

MCI takes US$1.3bn stake in wireless service provider Nextel Communications

Orange mobile network in UK launched

Australian Mobile Telecoms Association (AMTA) established

Elsevier buys LEXIS-NEXIS

first digital TV service - DirecTV in the US by satellite


Stac Electronics awarded US$120m damages for patent infringement by Microsoft

Village controls Austereo radio in Australia

Viacom buys Blockbuster and Paramount

BCE buys 20% of Mercury Communications

VoiceStream founded

135 million PCs worldwide

US government privatises internet management

first ads on the World Wide Web (ad for Wired magazine claimed as first)

first demonstration of Java

Cyberspace & the American Dream manifesto

Pizza Hut sells pizzas over the net

US videogame industry establishes Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

First Virtual, first cyberbank

Telecom Italia established

Rheingold's The Virtual Community

Birkerts' The Gutenberg Elegies

Guldberg Report on economic value of copyright industries in Australia

Cordell proposes Byte Tax

Canter & Siegel's How to Make a Fortune on the Information Superhighway

Goldstein's Copyright's Highway: The Law & Lore of Copyright from Gutenberg to the Celestial Jukebox

interactive TV introduced in US

Compagnie des Machines Bull privatised

Adobe buys Aldus for US$525m

China has 27.2m phone subscribers, 5.1 mobile subscribers

RealNetworks founded

section marker     1995

est 25 million mobile phone subscribers in US

est 15 million fax machines deployed in US

LDDS buys WilTel (Williams Telecommunications Group) for US$2.5bn, changes name to WorldCom

first US NTIA Falling Through The Net report

APEC Seoul Declaration for the Asia Pacific Information Infrastructure

Amazon.com founded

craigslist founded

Virage founded

first wiki site (for Portland Pattern Repository)

Pearson buys Grundy Worldwide

Seagram buys MCA

Westinghouse buys CBS, subsequently changes name to CBS

Singapore Telecom takes 24.5% in AAPT

AAPT acquires major shareholding in Newsnet ITN

AAPT buys 50% of ISP connect.com.au

Cisco buys Grand Junction for US$348m

Northern Telecom becomes Nortel

US mutual fund assets first exceed deposits in US commercial banking system

Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser

Sony demonstrates flat-screen TV set

Iomega markets Zip drive

Mondex introduced

RealAudio lets internet users hear in near real-time

Marty Rimm 'cyberpanic'

Negroponte's Being Digital

Stoll's Silicon Snake Oil

EU Data Protection Directive

AT&T announces split into AT&T communication services, Lucent Technologies and NCR computing

Sun Microsystems introduces Java programming language

WebCrawler acquired by America Online

global Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS)

Compaq acquires NetWorth and Thomas-Conrad

Disney buys ABC network

VeriSign founded

Deutsche Bundespost spins off Deutsche Telekom

NSF transfers control of four major internet access points to Ameritech, Sprint, MFS and PacBell

section marker     1996

Nominet established

US Health Insurance Portability & Accountabilility Act

US Child Pornography Prevention Act

Cisco buys Stratacom for US$4.8bn

Westpac buys Trust Bank of New Zealand

National Library of Australia launches PANDORA project

Novell sells WordPerfect and Quattro Pro to Corel for US$180m

German government sells 26% of Deutsche Telekom for DM20bn

Sprint, Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom joint venture Global One oup demutualises, with AXA SA of France as dominant shareholder

Bull's Zenith Data Systems merges with Packard Bell and NEC's North American pc arm

over 3,800 ISPs in US

19% of Australian households have cordless phones

Telstra begins operation in New Zealand

Belgian government sells 49% of Belgacom

Nynex and Bell Atlantic merge to form Verizon

WorldCom buys UUNet and MFS Communications for US$12bn

Apple buys NeXT for US$425m

TRW sells remaining interest in Experian

section marker     1997

Telecommunications Act 1997 deregulates telecoms in Australia

Danish government sells further 30% of Tele Danmark

American Libraries Association v Pataki case in US

Compaq acquires Tandem Computer

Cairncross' The Death of Distance

Schement & Curtis' Tendencies & Tensions of the Information Age

Frankel develops Winamp MP3 tool

Strassmann's The Squandered Computer

Amsterdam Treaty

EU Distance Selling Directive

Sixdegrees.com founded

Microsoft invests US$1bn in Comcast

Microsoft buys WebTV for US$503m

Ascend Communications buys Cascade for US$3.7bn

GTE buys BBN, unsuccessfully bids for MCI

Primus buys Axicorp and establishes Primus Australia in competition with Optus and Telstra

SBC and Pacific Telecommunications merge

section marker     1998

Compaq buys Digital Equipment Corporation

Microsoft buys Hotmail for US$400m

WorldCom buys MCI for US$40bn and Brooks Fiber Properties for US$1.2bn

Citigroup formed through US$70bn merger of Travelers Group and Citicorp

Sprint buys out TCI, Comcast Corporation and Cox Communications in wireless joint venture Sprint PCS

GTE and Bell Atlantic announce US$53bn merger as Verizon

BT buys MCI's 24.9% interest in Concert

AOL buys Netscape (for US$4.2bn), CompuServe and ICQ

BMC buys Boole & Babbage for US$900m

ICANN created

Sixdegrees.com acquired by YouthStream for US$125m

Vodafone New Zealand buys BellSouth NZ

Ameritech sells its 24.8% in Telecom NZ

Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom establish Wind Telecomunicazioni

Nortel buys Bay Networks for US$9.1bn

Nortel buys Cambrian Systems

Cisco buys Netspeed

Mannesmann buys tele.ring (Austria)

AMP demutualises, buys Citibank's New Zealand retail banking operations

Westpac buys Bank of Melbourne

AMP pays $920m for UK fund manager Henderson Investors (founded 1934)

Tiscali founded in Sardinia

Seagram buys Polygram

Hewlett-Packard releases first colour Palmtop computer

Panasonic releases first hand-held DVD player

Equant floated on NYSE

digital mobile phone sales overtake analogue phone sales

Uniform Electronic Evidence Act in Canada

Kelly's New Rules For The New Economy

NY Times site defaced by Hacking For Girliez (HFG) hacktivists

US Digital Millennium Copyright Act

APEC Singapore Declaration for the Asia Pacific Information Infrastructure

est 100 million fax machines deployed worldwide (20 million in US)

section marker     1999

WC3 releases Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

transfer of business.com for US$7.5m fires domain name boom

Euro created as EU currency

InfoSeek sold for US$2.5bn

Auto-ID Center established

Fanning founds Napster

AOL buys Frankel's Nullsoft for US$100m

auDA established to manage dot-au TLD

global telecommunication traffic generated by data transmission exceeds traffic generated by voice transmission

150 million internet users worldwide (over 50% in US)

over 4,000 ISPs in EU and 6,700 in US

Finland's mobile phones linked to vending machines

36% of Australian households have cordless phones

first WAP mobile phone advertisement in Finland

Compaq acquires Shopping.com

Coles Myer buys Harris Technology

Tiscali founds Nets SA and ATelecom SA in France

GEC sells Marconi Electronics Systems

BCE spins off most of stake in Nortel for C$73bn

BCE absorbs Teleglobe for C$9.6bn

Seven sells MGM/UA stake

John Doerr says " Believe it or not, the Internet is actually underhyped"

Match.com acquired by Ticketmaster-CitySearch for US$50m

Nortel buys Qtera, Periphonics, Shasta Networks and X-CEL Communications

GEC buys RELTEC and FORE Systems

Alcatel buys Xylan, Packet Engines, Assured Access and Internet Device

Australian Broadcasting Services Amendment (Online Services) Act - aka BSA - reinforces online content regulation

BT and AT&T form Concert joint venture

AAPT buys remaining 50% of connect.com.au

Telecom New Zealand buys 79% of AAPT

German government sells further stake in Deutsche Telekom for €11bn

Telstra merges New Zealand arm with Saturn to form TelstraSaturn

Australian Electronic Transactions Act

Varian & Shapiro's Information Rules

Lessig's Code & Other Laws Of Cyberspace

RIAA litigation against Napster

Viacom buys CBS

Deutsche Telekom buys One2One.com in UK and Siris in France

Mannesmann buys control of Omnitel and Infostrade (Italy) and Orange (UK)

US$45bn spent on US tv advertising (US$14bn to CBS, ABC and NBC)

Kinetica replaces Australian Bibliographic Network

Yahoo! added to S&P 500 index

Yahoo buys Geocities for US$5bn

Cisco buys Pirelli Optical Systems for US$2.1bn

ICQ claims 40 million members

last Morse transmission from Australian coast station

section marker     2000

'Great Dot-com Crash' of April 2000

EU Electronic Commerce Directive

Vivendi swallows Seagram

CanWest swallows Hollinger's Canadian newspaper chain

Bell Canada spins off Nortel stake to shareholders

DoCoMo buys 42.3% of AOL Japan for US$100m

'Digital Agenda' Copyright Act in Australia

Motorola merges with General Instrument Corporation

Marconi buys Bosch Public Networks

Norway's Telenor floated for US$1.7bn

EISA foreshadows $325m bid for Ozemail, then collapses

Vodafone takes control of Mannesmann, sells engineering interests

Spanish telco Telefonica pays £3.5bn for entertainment group Endemol

Australian Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act extends privacy regime to parts of non-government sector

Sanger launches Wikipedia

Nortel buys Xros, Dimension Enterprises, Alteon WebSystems, CoreTek and Photonic Technologies

Equant merges with Global One under control of France Telecom

France Telecom buys Orange mobile network in UK

France Telecom forms Radianz joint venture with Reuters

Tiscali buys Datacomm and Nikomm (Germany), CD-Telekomunikace (Czech), LinkLine and Interweb(Belgium), WorldOnline (Netherlands)

ScanSoft buys Omnipage parent Caere

UK government gains US$35bn from auction of five 3G wireless licenses

WC3 releases Authoring Tools Accessibility Guidelines

German government gains €50.2bn from six 3G wireless licences

Telecom NZ moves to 100% of AAPT

VoiceStream buys Aerial Communications for US$5.6bn and Omnipoint for US$7.2bn

Sprint sells stake in GlobalOne for US$1.4bn

US and EU regulators block WorldCom US$115bn merger with Sprint

Alcatel buys Newbridge, Genesys and Innovative Fibers

BCE buys CTV for C$2bn

BCE and Thomson form Bell Globemedia

26m mobile phone subscribers in China

Frankel releases Gnutella

section marker     2001

EU Directive on Copyright & Related Rights In The Information Society

Elsevier swallows Harcourt General

merger of Chase Manhattan and J P Morgan

WorldCom merges with Intermedia Communications

Andersen Consulting becomes Accenture

over 20 million subscribers on DoCoMo's i-mode network

Hewlett-Packard buys Compaq for US$2bn

C&W America buys Exodus Communications for US$800m

Commonwealth Interactive Gambling Act 2001 in Australia

Deutsche Telekom buys VoiceStream and PowerTel

Tiscali buys Planet Interkom and SurfEu (Germany), Springboard (UK) and 70% of Excite Italia

Corbis buys Second Line Search

Bill Gates listed as world's richest man

AOL subscribers reach 29 million worldwide

Napster ordered by 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to block copyrighted music

Polaroid goes into Chapter 11

Apple releases iPod

TelstraSaturn buys Clear to form TelstraClear New Zealand

section marker     2002

EU Directive on Privacy & Electronic Communications

Yahoo buys HotJobs job board for US$436m

Kirch goes into receivership

Sarbanes-Oxley Act in US

Vivendi starts unbundling

WorldCom seeks for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection, listing US$107bn assets and US$41bn debt

IBM buys PwC Consulting for US$3.5bn

IBM buys Rational Software for US$2.1bn

WC3 releases User Agent Accessibility Guidelines

Yahoo! buys Inktomi

Sears buys Lands End for US$1.9bn

54% of Australian households have cordless phones?

Italian government sells stake in Telecom Italia

section marker     2003

News Corp buys Hughes Electronics (DirectTV)

CIPA declared constitutional in US

Lawrence v Texas decision by US Supreme Court

Softbank sells Aozora Bank stake

US 'Truth In Domains' Act ('PROTECT Act')

'AOL' removed from name of AOL Time Warner

LookSmart dropped by MSN

Google buys Blogger

VeriSign SiteFinder controversy

Granada merges with Carlton

EMC buys Legato for US$1.3bn

VeriSign sells 85% of registrar arm to Pivotal Private Equity for US$100m

Yahoo! buys Overture

Telstra buys IP1 Australia

Penthouse goes bust

Enron goes into Chapter 11

BT reenters mobile phone market in UK

22% of Russian population has mobile phone subscription

Spam Act 2003 in Australia

number of internet subscribers in Australia reaches over 5.2m

CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 in US

EMC buys Documentum for US$1.7bn

152m personal computers sold across globe

Red Hat buys Sistina Software

World Summit on the Information Society

EMC buys VMware for US$635m

UK government pledges to have all citizens online by 2008

FedEx buys Kinko's for US$2.4bn

32m cars in UK, 29m in France, 47m in Germany, 38m in Italy, 25m in Spain, 137m in US, 10m in Australia

Bank of America buys FleetBoston Financial for US$48bn

US federal Fair & Accurate Credit Transactions Act 2003

section marker     2004

Conrad Black exits from Hollinger

Australia-US Free Trade Agreement

Comcast bids for Disney

Cingular buys AT&T Wireless

Enron sells CrossCountry Energy to Southern Union and GE for U$2.4bn

controversy over 2003 proposals by Telstra to buy Fairfax or Nine Network and Telstra's anti-competitive conduct in broadband market

LexisNexis acquires Seisint for US$775m

Hostway Corporation acquires responsibility for operation of dot-pro TLD from Register.com

NOIE replaced by Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) and Office of Information Economy

CNET Networks buys EDventure Holdings

Alcatel sells mobile phone operations to China's TCL Communication

Microsoft pays Sun over US$1.95bn to settle lawsuits and patent disputes

Telstra pays $636m for Trading Post classified ads publications

Kabel Deutschland GmbH buys Ish, KabelBW and iesy for US$3.3bn

AOL pays US$435m for Advertising.com

TARBS goes into receivership

UK Office of the e-Envoy replaced by Cabinet Office e-government unit

Intelsat agrees to US$5bn takeover

DMGT sells Australian regional network

Telstra buys Damovo

collapse of Comindico

US Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act 2004 in Australia extends copyright protection to life plus 70 years model

Deutsche Telekom buys public stake in T-Online internet subsidiary (spun off in 2000)

IBM sells personal computer division to Lenovo

global revenue from mobile phones greater than from fixed-line phones

Sprint and Nextel in US announce US$72bn merger

Oracle acquires PeopleSoft for US$10.3bn

Symantec buys Veritas in US$13.5bn deal

online advertising in UK (£653.3m) overtakes commercial radio advertising (£637.4m)

Washington Post group buys Microsoft's Slate

section marker     2005

Corbis buys Zefa image licensing group for US$96m

AT&T agrees to US$16bn takeover by SBC Communications

Verizon buys MCI for US$6.7bn

New York Times buys About.com from Primedia for US$410m

IBM pays US$1.1bn for Ascential

IAC/InterActiveCorp buys Ask Jeeves for US$1.9bn

Yahoo! buys Flickr.com

Adobe buys Macromedia for US$3.4bn

first Australian court action under Spam Act 2003

US Supreme Court rules that distributors of file-swapping software can be held liable for copyright infringement

Bank of America pays US$35bn for MBNA and US$3bn for 9% of Bank of China

US government indicates intention to retain control of the Root

Australian Federal Court finds site and ISP guilty of copyright infringement through links to sites that had infringing sound recordings

Barclays pays US$4.2bn for 54% of South African bank Absa

France Télécom pays €6.4bn for 80% of Spanish mobile operator Amena


Universal Music Australia v Sharman decision by Federal Court

eBay agrees to pay US$2.6bn for Skype

Oracle buys Siebel

News Corp pays US$650m for IGN Entertainment Inc

global number of mobile phone customers passes 2 billion

BSkyB pays £211m for UK broadband ISP Easynet

News Corp pays US$580m for Myspace.com

Ericsson buys most of Marconi's manufacturing businesses

subsection heading icon     2006

Disney buys Pixar for US$7.4bn

AT&T makes US$67bn bid for BellSouth

NBC Universal agrees to buy iVillage for around US$600m

John Fairfax pays $625m for Trade Me

BT pays £30m for online retailer Dabs.com

Google pays US$1.65bn for YouTube

hype about Web 2.0

subsection heading icon     2007

anxiety about private equity

IPO of VMware values business at US$19bn - more than Ford

subprime crisis includes run on Northern Rock bank in UK

eBay writes down US$1.43bn of US$2.5bn purchase price of Skype

subsection heading icon     2008

Wotif pays $57m for competitor travel.com.au

Microsoft unsuccessful US$44.6bn bid for Yahoo

AOL pays US$850m for Bebo

US$300bn wiped off US equity markets, Federal Reserve and JPMorgan Chase rescue Bear Stearns, UK govt nationalises Northern Rock

Wall Street 'subprime crash' sees demise of Lehman Bros; sale of Merrill Lynch, nationalisation of WaMu and Bradford & Bingley

Iceland calls in IMF after nationalising Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir banks

Benelux states rescue Fortis


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