The Top 10 Internet Moments of the Decade

The Webby Awards' most influential moments of since 2000.

ByABC News
November 18, 2009, 12:09 PM

Nov. 19, 2009— -- Remember when we had to flip through the Sunday classifieds to find an apartment or used car? Or use an encyclopedia to look up the capital of an Eastern European country?

Thanks to the Internet, we now have Craigslist, Google, Wikipedia and more to help us find and organize the information we need to live our daily lives. But 10 years ago, nobody knew just how powerful they would become.

The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which gives out the Webby Awards, has now announced its list of the 10 most influential Internet moments of the decade.

Usually, the awards, which were founded in 1996, recognize individual Web sites, online ads or film and video. But now the academy, hailing the Internet as "the story of the decade," has recognized the milestones that most contributed to cultural change.

"We were looking at events that reshaped the Internet, that actually reshaped people's lives," said David Michel Davies, executive director of the Webby Awards. "These are really things that touch regular people's lives in a day-to-day way."

These 10 events, he said, most demonstrate the Internet's ability to upend old systems and distribute more power to everyday people.

Here they are:

1. Craiglist Expands Outside San Francisco (2000)

Although Craig Newmark started Craigslist in 1995 as an e-mail list for friends and co-workers about San Francisco Bay Area events, it became a true Internet force in 2000.

In that year, the free classifieds site expanded to nine additional U.S. cities, threatening local newspapers' longtime monopoly on classified advertising.

Now Craigslist serves more than 700 cities in 70 countries, providing free listings for jobs, apartments and nearly everything else under the sun.

2. Google AdWords Launches (2000)

Larry Page and Sergey Brin incorporated Google in 1998, but it was in 2000 that it found its main source of revenue: Google AdWords, which lets businesses of all sizes post ads on Google.

The pay-per-click system "turned advertising on its head," the Webby Awards said in a statement. "The self-service ad program opened up the marketplace to any business, no matter how big or small, and allowed advertisers to target their customers with laser-sharp precision."

3. Wikipedia Launches (2001)

Launched in 2001, the free user-generated online encyclopedia quickly became the reference site of choice for Internet users.

By the end of its first year, it had 20,000 articles in 18 languages. It reached its one millionth article in 2006. Today, it has more than 14 million articles in 271 languages.

4. Napster Shutdown (2001)

The popular music-sharing Web site was shut down in 2001, but according to the Webby Awards, it "opened the file-sharing floodgates." From Hulu to iTunes, Napster led to myriad new ways to get music and video.

5. Google's IPO (2004)

In 2004, Google sold shares to the public for the very first time, turning the company's earliest employees into millionaires. Since then, the company has become one of the most influential companies on the planet, changing people's lives with its search engine, Gmail, Google Earth, Google Maps, YouTube and Google Android smart-phone software.