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15 years of the World Wide Web

From CNN's Kristie Lu Stout

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At 15 years old, the World Wide Web has had an impressive life.

QUICKVOTE

Which of the following is the most significant in the World Wide Web's history?
WiFi hotspots
Webcams and photo sharing
Skype
Live 8 on AOL
Napster shuts down
Monica Lewinsky scandal
9/11, and the rise of citizen journalism
Dotcom boom/bust
Hotmail
Google
or View Results

SPECIAL REPORT

SPARK

ON CNNI TV

YOUR SAY

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS

Internet
Technology (general)

(CNN) -- Spark looks at the top 10 "Web moments" since the World Wide Web was born 15 years ago, and asks viewers to vote for the one they think had the most impact in the Web's history.

In 1990, Tim Berners-Lee launched the World Wide Web, a multimedia branch of the Internet.

With Berners-Lee's "http protocol," computer jockeys the world over began making the Net easier to use with point-and-click programs.

Browsers such as Mosaic and, later, Netscape Navigator would help popularize the Web, and let a billion Web pages bloom.

Anyone could access the network, and anyone could decide what went online.

The Web became a powerful, liberating force that brought people closer together, and shaped new businesses.

Take Yahoo, which started as a quirky list favorite links that turned into the go-to site of the 90s.

Or Hotmail, one of the first Web services to give away e-mail for free.

And Ebay, which linked up buyers and sellers of nearly everything to become the world's biggest trading post.

And of course Amazon, the online behemoth of books.

These were the great companies of the so-called "new economy," fueled by venture capitalist sugar daddies and excitable Nasdaq punters.

But with every dot-com blue chip, there were the dogs as well -- think of the likes of Pets.com and Globe.com.

It all looked a bit too bubbly -- long on vision and way short on fundamentals. But today, the blue chips are still standing -- taller than ever.

Amazon is well in the black and has proved cyber-retailing is big business, online advertising is pulling in profits at Yahoo and eBay has become an economy in its own right, with millions of users set to trade goods worth more than $40 billion this year.

But it is Google that gets the most attention. It is the Goliath of the Web, with search, e-mail, e-commerce, instant messaging, classified ads, and even its own virtual planet with Google Earth -- all adding up to one mega-market cap.

The Web is a thrill ride yet again. It is bigger. It is faster. And the original spirit of community-building is still there.

Myspace -- a virtual hangout for wired teens -- has seen its membership rise to 40 million in the last year, prompting News Corp to pick up its parent for more than half a billion dollars.

Skype is the new Hotmail -- linking millions of callers, turning the telecom market upside down, and attracting a $2.6 billion buy-out from eBay.

Yahoo, meanwhile, swooped in on Flickr -- the service that has transformed photography into a popular social pursuit.

The second boom is well underway. So watch this space. This may be a cyber-sequel built to last.

Spark's top 10 Web moments

These are Spark's picks as the top 10 moments in the World Wide Web's short but impressive life. Vote for the one you think is the most significant, or read what others say:

10. WiFi hotspots -- wireless Internet connectivity appears in airports, hotels and even McDonald's.

9. Webcams and photo sharing -- communication becomes visual, and inboxes fill with baby photos.

8. Skype -- telephony turns upside down with free long-distance calls, Ebay snaps it up in September 2005 for $2.6 billion.

7. Live 8 on AOL -- five million people watch poverty awareness concerts online in July 2005, setting a new Net record.

6. Napster goes offline -- Regulators close the pioneering music swap site in July 2001 and file-sharing goes offshore.

5. Lewinsky scandal -- Matt Drudge breaks the Clinton/Lewinsky sex scandal in 1998. The blog is born.

4. Tsunami and 9/11 -- two tragic events set the Web alight with opinion and amateur video.

3. Boom and bust -- trillions of dollars were made and lost as the dotcom bubble ballooned and burst between 1995 and 2001.

2. Hotmail -- went from having zero users in 1995 to 30 million subscribers 30 months later. It now has 215 million users.

1. Google -- redefined search. Invented a new advertising model and commands a vast business empire.

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