Feature

That was the year that was

People will always remember what they were doing when news broke of the September terrorist attacks in the US, but 2001 is memorable in other ways too. Karl Cushing reports on the key events of a turbulent opening to the new century

January
IT NEWS:
E-tailer Letsbuyit.com and Belgian speech recognition software firm L&H were early casualties, while Apple slashed prices on its top-end desktops in an effort to revive flagging sales and clear stock. Andrew Pinder was confirmed as the new e-envoy.
GENERAL NEWS: On 26 January, India was hit by the worst earthquake in its history, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale.

February
IT NEWS: Intel and Motorola announced 5,000 and 7,000 UK redundancies, fuelling fears that the US slowdown would spread to the UK. The spread of the Kournikova virus was fuelled by users' seeming inability to turn down the chance to access a free shot of the tennis-playing temptress.
GENERAL NEWS: Israelis elected hardliner Ariel Sharon as their new prime minister reducing the chances of long-term peace in the region.

March
IT NEWS: Technology stocks bore the brunt of the worldwide share collapse. The London Stock Exchange fell to its lowest level since 1997 and the Nasdaq fell through its 2,000 mark. Network giant Cisco announced 8,000 job cuts.
GENERAL NEWS: A US spy plane made an emergency landing on Chinese territory after it was damaged in a collision with a Chinese jet sent to intercept it, kicking off a full-blown international crisis.

April
IT NEWS: Cisco Systems wrote off a $2.5bn (£1.7bn) inventory surplus in its company figures. The Isle of Man's telephone company Manx Telecom took delivery of the first 3G handset to arrive in Europe.
GENERAL NEWS: Sophie countess of Wessex and her partner in the PR company R-JH, Murray Harkin, were caught out by the News of The World in the "fake sheikh" sting set up to show that the countess was using her royal connections to drum up business. Former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic was arrested for war crimes.

May
IT NEWS: Microsoft's decision to move to subscription licensing for software led to alarm at likely cost hikes and accusations that the company was abusing its market dominance. The SSP/Computer Weekly recruitment survey showed a fall of 40% in the number of IT jobs advertised.
GENERAL NEWS: Anti-capitalist protests in London centred on a theme of monopoly and were less riotous than in previous years. The Italian general election saw media-magnate Silvio Berlusconi returned to power, in spite of allegations of corruption that dogged him throughout the campaign.

June
IT NEWS: A judge in the US Court of Appeals overturned an earlier ruling that had called for Microsoft to be split up into two companies - one selling operating systems and the other selling applications and services. The UK Government appointed a new e-minister, Douglas Alexander.
GENERAL NEWS: Labour won the general election which had been delayed during the foot and mouth epidemic. Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble resigned as first minister of the power-sharing Northern Ireland executive in protest at the IRA's failure to put its weapons "completely and verifiably beyond use". Nepal was thrown into chaos after crown prince Dipendra massacred most of the royal family, also killing himself.

July
IT NEWS: Analyst Richard Holway predicted that the UK IT services and software sector could make a collective loss for the first time ever as a result of the slowdown in IT spending. Teenage hacker Raphael Gray, who stole thousands of credit card details from Web sites which he later posted on the Internet, was sentenced to three years' probation and put on a course of psychiatric treatment by Swansea Crown Court.
GENERAL NEWS: Millionaire peer Jeffrey Archer was convicted of perjury and perverting the course of justice and jailed for four years. London mayor Ken Livingstone lost a court battle to block Government plans to set up a private-public partnership to run London Underground.

August
IT NEWS: The Code Red virus, first reported on 12 July, reappeared - the new variant still exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft Internet Information Server versions 4.0 and 5.0 but spreading faster and depositing a trojan allowing hackers to control of systems. The demand for IT professionals hit its lowest level since the last recession in the early 1990s. The Computer Weekly/SSP jobs survey showed the number of IT jobs advertised in the press in the second quarter below 15,000 for the first time.
GENERAL NEWS: A car bomb, believed to have been planted by the Real IRA, exploded in west London. UN troops were posted to Macedonia to reinforce the latest cease-fire work and end six months of conflict. Australia came under pressure to accept a ship carrying refugees.

September
IT NEWS: Computer Weekly celebrated its 35th anniversary. The Nimda virus caused havoc in Microsoft systems. The virus spread by e-mailing itself to all of the addresses in a user's address book, searching caches for others and even travelling via shared networks. Users accessing infected Web sites could also be infected if they had not patched their browsers. Meanwhile, news of the proposed merger between Hewlett-Packard and Compaq to create a giant to rival IBM received a lukewarm reception.
GENERAL NEWS: Terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center killing over 6,000 people on 11 September. Images of two airliners crashing into the twin towers and ash-covered New Yorkers filled TV screens and newspapers around the globe. Planes also hit the Pentagon in Washington. In the UK, Duncan Smith became the new Tory leader.

October
IT NEWS: A busy month for Microsoft: the latest Pocket PC handheld operating system, the Pocket PC 2002, was hailed for its corporate potential. Its new operating system, Windows XP, received a more lukewarm reception, however. Despite claims of record sales, the reality was different - although the pirated versions which flooded the Asian market, selling for the price of a pint, did prove popular.
GENERAL NEWS: Anthrax spores were sent to US media offices via the postal network. Similar alerts occurred in the UK where several buildings were evacuated after suspicious white powder was found.

November
IT NEWS: The 50th anniversary of the first business application to be run "live" on the Lyons Electronic Office system was marked. Cable & Wireless pulled the plug on its A-Services ASP partnership plans with Compaq and Microsoft. In a Computer Weekly/Harvey Nash Big Question, 68% of IT professionals said they would sit tight to weather the storm next year instead of changing jobs.
GENERAL NEWS: The conflict in Afghanistan and the campaign to oust the Taliban dominated the news. Opposition forces swept south, seized Kabul and by the end of the month had the Taliban pinned down in Kandahar.

December
IT NEWS: IT directors around the world turned their attention to writing acronym-ridden Christmas wish lists and enjoying lengthy lunches. Considering the trials and tribulations of the year this was probably not such a bad idea.
GENERAL NEWS: The crisis in the Middle East worsened following a spate of suicide bomb attacks and swift Israeli retaliation. Energy giant Enron became the biggest corporate failure in US history.

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This was first published in December 2001

 

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