20 network-changing products in 20 years

Hindsight is indeed 20/20. Even though we didn't build the products that have changed the way networks do business in the last 20 years, our birds'-eye view of those developments gives us a license to pinpoint which 20 products have had the most impact on the network industry.

We amassed a list of more than 50 wares that helped bring us increased infrastructure speed, access to the brave new world of the Internet and applications beyond our wildest dreams. In whittling the list down to a mere 20, we may have missed products or technologies that you deem worthy.

Now, let's move on to our list of products and technologies, in chronological order.

1. Product: Sniffer

Company: Network General

Date: 1986

While very expensive (in the US$60,000-plus range), this product, in its original Compaq II portable incarnation, was the first easy-to-use network diagnostic tool. The company then shipped Sniffer Distributed in 1991 and has since produced versions that peer into Gigabit Ethernet, wireless networks and even into the applications riding over them.

2. Product: Notes

Company: Lotus (now IBM)

Year: 1989

As the first true commercial workgroup application, more than 35,000 copies of Lotus Notes 1.0 were sold during the first year it was on the market. The system requirements were either DOS 3.1 or OS/2 on the client and either DOS 3.1, 4.0 or OS/2 on the server.

3. Product: The World

Company: Software Tool & Die

Year: 1989

The World is reputed to be the oldest commercial ISP. This outfit was founded in the U.S. state of Massachusetts by current CEO Barry Shein to give interested public parties access to Usenet News.

4. Product: NetWare 3.x

Company: Novell

Year: 1989

This was the version of NetWare that improved network operating system administration for large numbers of client machines and significantly sped up NetWare adoption. It was also the version for which developers - via Network Loadable Modules - could tie other services such as anti-virus software and backup, database and Web servers into the network. With NetWare 4.x, Novell added its Novell Directory System to the base product in 1993 and then acknowledged the importance of the Internet when it picked up TCP/IP support as its primary network protocol in 1998, with the rollout of NetWare 5.x.

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