See Part I for 30-21.
Few sites, and especially ones for a seemingly mundane task such as sharing photos, have been as studied and imitated as Flickr. Flickr made the most of methods such as Ajax, but did it in a way that never got in the way of the photos. We also have Flickr to thank for the dropping of E at the end of words and the almost ever-present “Beta” tags on web applications.
19. Lotus 1-2-3
IBM’s first killer app inspired many imitators and its influence can be found in every spreadsheet application since. Lotus 1-2-3 also help popularize contextual help.
Friendster has become a bit of a punchline now, but Friendster showed (briefly) the value of a social network almost purely as a social network. MySpace, Orcut, Facebook, etc. all owe a debt to Friendster.
Touchscreens have been available for almost 40 years now, and in phones for over a decade. But it is the iPhone that every major device manufacturer has been chasing for two years now, and it, along with the Wii (#23) is re-defining for the general public how we can interact with our digital devices.
16. Lotus Notes
Not all influences are good ones. Lotus Notes has been the definitive example of bloated, unwieldy, and overly-complicated UIs with poor feedback mechanisms for nearly 20 years now, and yet so much of the enterprise software (and now even some web applications) tries to replicate its everything-at-once-done-poorly mantra.
15. Atari 2600
The Atari 2600 brought a computer that didn’t sit on a desk into homes–frequently even before there was a computer on a desk in the home. It also introduced to many the input devices of a joystick and trackball, and every gaming system from Xbox to Playstation to the Wii is a direct descendent.
14. The WELL
The Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link was perhaps the first popular social network on the dial-up, pre-web. The founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation met there, and Craigslist’s first mailing were here as well. The WELL’s influence can be seen all over the web wherever there are threaded discussions, and, arguably, blogging.
ICQ was the first popular, cross-platform instant messaging platform. Everything from Twitter (#27) to AIM to Skype bears its stamp.
12. iPod and iTunes
I’m cheating a little, combining these, but it is really the combination of iPod/iTunes that is the most influential (although there were certainly years of companies trying to replicate the scroll wheel on devices). The iTunes “playlist” concept has spread far from just music, while the cross-platform, small device/desktop (or web) manager/store is a model that designers and businesses both are keen to replicate.
Ivan Sutherland’s 1963 Sketchpad is the grandfather of every CAD and graphics program that followed. It was the first program ever to have a GUI, and the first to use a lightpen. Sketchpad also started the idea of “masters” which are found now in everything from Photoshop to OmniGraffle.
Coming soon: The top 10 most influential interactive products!