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THE BEST (AND WORST) OF 1999
DECEMBER 20, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 24


The Best Cybertech of 1999




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 U.S. President Bill Clinton praised the site and admitted trading on it. Is there anyone who hasn't?

2 Palm VII So you want wireless Web access right 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 U.S. users a smorgasbord of e-mail, news, sports and stock tickers, all for $9.99 a month. By the way, it's also an organizer.

    ALSO IN TIME
The Best (and Worst) of 1999
What will stick in the collective memory is the best and worst of our own fin de siècle, and 1999 had a bumper crop of winners and some memorable bummers as well

Cybertech
Science
Books
Sports
Design
Music
Cinema
Scandals
Business
People
Environment

Macau: Macau's Big Gamble
The Portuguese colony's return to China will be a low-key affair. The real fireworks will begin when the new owners try to clean up the joint
Extended Interview: 'We Will Make the Triads Uncomfortable'
In his temporary government office, Macau Chief Executive-designate Edmund Ho spoke about the future of the territory with TIME

Japan: A Fairy-Tale Ending?
After years of waiting, Japan's royal-watchers are thrilled over hints that the Princess may be pregnant

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 MP3.com 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 simcity.com) lets your legacy live on.

5 Quake III Got an axe to grind with your cousin in Chicago? Challenge him to a duel on the Web. The year's hottest PC game lets you get into shooting matches with netizens anywhere, in solo showdowns or gang wars. Creepy characters and realistic backdrops make for a great--if sometimes gory--experience.

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 as Asheron's Call--but Ever-quest'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 (theonion.com) 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.

AND THE WORST

The Melissa virus: The most pernicious piece of software code yet written by a hacker, Melissa spread through more than 300 corporate networks last April. Her author pleaded guilty to computer theft and other charges, but that hasn't stopped copycat attacks.

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