Innovation

10 biggest moments in IT from the last decade

From 4G to AI and Chromebooks to Android, tech's evolution over the past decade has introduced us to new technology—and new security issues.

For some, 10 years doesn't seem like a long time. But in terms of technology, 10 years might as well be 100. Within that time span, so many remarkable things can—and do—happen. Not only can platforms evolve, but new innovations arrive that can drastically change the landscape as we know it.

Such is the case in the last decade. Starting with 2008, so many amazing moments occurred within the realm of technology. Let's take a look at some of the biggest.

1. Two-factor authentication

Although two-factor authentication technology isn't as secure as we'd like it to be, without it, more and more accounts would be hacked. Two-factor authentication made it possible for the average user to gain much better security for their devices and accounts. At first, very few companies made use of this technology. Eventually, however, most services employed two-factor authentication in one form or another.

The idea that even two-factor authentication wasn't secure enough has driven innovators to develop the next-gen authentication method. Without two-factor authentication's appearance on the IT stage, we might still use standard username/passwords for authentication.

SEE: CXO spotlight: The risks and rewards of fast IT (Tech Pro Research)

2. 4G internet

For the longest time, mobile speeds were akin to dial up from the '90s. Using a mobile device became an exercise in frustration and tested the user's patience. Then 3G internet rolled out, and things started improving. However, with the evolution of the mobile device, 3G wasn't fast enough. So in 2010, the next level of mobile internet was revealed—4G.

The release of 4G finally allowed mobile network speeds to catch up to the power of the devices, such that it didn't feel like leaving the tether of Wi-Fi was a massive downgrade. Of course, devices continued to grow more and more powerful, which has led to the inevitable rollout of 5G. Hopefully, that transition will happen quickly and seamlessly.

3. Artificial intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence (AI) may be considered one of the biggest developments in the last 10 years, especially from a development standpoint. AI has driven so many tech sectors and continues to evolve into a central player in smartphone technology.

But phones aren't the only area to benefit from AI. Chatbots make it possible for companies to create intuitive systems that can anticipate customers needs in chat form. The technology has come so far, that the customer might have no idea that they are chatting with a bot. Tools like Google Assistant and Siri could not be as useful as they are without the advancements in AI.

SEE: Quick glossary: Artificial intelligence (Tech Pro Research)

4. Android

Up until September 27, 2008, the iPhone was the only mobile device on the market. But on that fateful day in September, the first release of Google's mobile platform, Android, was unleashed. Granted, the first platform iteration was slow, buggy, and tended to edge toward unuseable. Fortunately, the operating system evolved at an incredible speed. Within a couple of quick years, Android finally rivals iOS in terms of usability and stability and far surpasses Apple's platform in terms of flexibility. By 2016, Android has become the most used platform in the world.

5. Chromebooks

Ah, the Chromebook. The device few thought would succeed. After all, it was nothing more than a laptop running a browser. Right? Wrong. Chrome OS became much more than that, and the Chromebook eventually became one of the best selling laptops on the market.

They're cheap, incredibly easy-to-use and work seamlessly with Google's services. At this point, Chromebooks have evolved into a full-blown laptop experience and can even run Android and Linux applications.

In 2016, Chromebooks outsold Apple laptops for the first time, with Dell, HP, and Lenovo selling nearly 2 million Chromebooks in Q1 of that year. Since then, Chromebook sales continue to be strong, and users of all kinds have made use of Google's simplified platform.

6. Containers

One cannot toss a stone into the IT landscape without hitting a containerized deployment. Just over the last few years, containers have skyrocketed in popularity. Thanks to their ease-of-use, portability, and flexibility, containers are the darling of enterprise computing. And with the help of Kubernetes, containers can be scaled to remarkably large deployments. Without containers, large companies would still rely on virtualization, which isn't nearly as agile and flexible.

7. Facebook's legal woes

It's not often that you find a tech company embroiled so deeply in politics. But when Mark Zuckerberg sat before a Senate committee to answer questions about his company's role in the 2016 election, things took a turn for the very serious.

The average citizen became concerned about the role of social media in their everyday lives. To make matters worse for technology, the average citizen also started to question the trust they'd placed on social media. This also shined a very intense light on personal data and how it was acquired and used.

SEE: Facebook data privacy scandal: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)

8. BYOD

Although the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) craze witnessed a serious drop in popularity, for a while it was all the rage. And with good reason. The vast majority of the population carried with them smartphones and tablets. It was in the best interests of businesses to take advantage of this, otherwise, they'd foot the bill for devices their employees already owned. Companies started allowing staff members to use their own smartphones and tablets as work devices. Of course, this caused security problems, as end users carried around sensitive company data on less-than-secure devices. To remedy it, companies started setting BYOD policies. Both Google and Apple have jumped into the fray to create technologies that help isolate work and personal data and ease the theft of sensitive company information.

SEE: BYOD policy (Tech Pro Research)

9. Smart devices

Over the past 10 years, it seems like every device is connected. Phones, cars, refrigerators, televisions, thermostats, toasters, deadbolts, lights, watches—nearly everything communicates with everything else, sharing data and making our lives incredibly convenient. The downside of such convenience is the rise of equally smart hackers, doing their best to gain access to smart devices and, consequently, personal data. Fortunately, the big companies helping to connect these devices are working tirelessly to keep them secure so that we can continue using our watches to tell our coffee pots to start brewing.

10. Ubuntu Server 6.06.2

In 2011, Ubuntu launched their server platform. This was at the 6.06.2 release, and it seriously changed the Linux server landscape. No longer was the Linux server a challenge to work with and install. Ubuntu Server made it such so that any IT admin, regardless of experience or skills, could roll out a powerful LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) server in minutes. With the release of Ubuntu Server, so much technology received free rein to evolve at incredible speeds.

Also check out: The 10 biggest moments in IT history, a TechRepublic article I wrote in 2009.

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Image: Jack Wallen

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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