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1998 Marks the Internet's Coming of Age

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RALEIGH — 1998 marked the year that the Internet came of age. Users logged on in record numbers and sent billions of email messages. The Internet proved itself as a major channel and library of information.

Most any event that occurred throughout the year found a place on the Web, and the Internet itself made news.

Internet-related mergers included theNortel-Bay Networksdeal, which saw hundreds of Nortel Networks employees laid off in the Triangle.

America Onlinebecame the online power with the announcement of a merger withNetscape.Microsoftbattled with theDepartment of Justiceand the Feds continued to try to subdue the global reality of the Internet.

Millions of people spent more time on the Net than watching TV or using the phone.

"For the first time we have a medium that can really be individual and really be personal and really reach out," says Geraldine Laybourne,Oxygen Mediachief executive officer.

Triangle-basedRed Hat Softwarestruck it big with their Linux operating system products possible competition for Microsoft.

Apple's new iMacmade a nice blue splash with the public. E-Commerce was a big holiday winner. Matt Drudge broke the Clinton-Lewinsky story online. A lot of users shared sad emotions on the Web, and celebrated the second space flight of a hero.

With cheaper computers emerging, everyone's lives moved even closer to the Networked world.

"The next big innovation is the Internet," says Steve Case, AOL chairman and chief executive officer, "It's really going to be like the telephone, like the television. And everybody's going to be using it someday. Then it's going to have a profound impact on their lives."

No more so than on the younger generations who are growing up using a medium that did not exist ten years ago.

The growth of the Web is predicted to continue at a frenzied pace. Much of the nation's economy is based in information technology, and 1999 will be another banner year for the Net.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Jason Darwin, Web Editor

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