This is our list of the best technology companies of all time.
Our rankings are based on which companies had the biggest impact on the lives of people. We also factored in the evolving definition of “technology.”
Sound off in the comments about why we’re wrong!
The Netscape browser was a revolutionary product that made it possible for everyone to get on the web. It was ultimately crushed by Microsoft's Internet Explorer, but not before it kick started a huge tech boom in the Valley.
Routers aren't sexy, but they're the part of the backbone of the Internet, guiding streams of information to the right computers on the right networks. Cisco briefly cornered the market on the kind of routers that Internet service providers use, and has stayed on top of technical shifts like the move to delivering voice and video over the Internet.
Palm ushered in the smartphone era through its PDAs and phones. The company failed to innovate, but in its era it was a great technological success story.
AOL made the Internet palatable to normal people. It shaped the public's earliest perceptions of the web.
Xerox makes the list for Xerox Parc, alone. The R&D lab from Xerox birthed the mouse and the graphical user interfaces Apple and Microsoft would use to launch the personal computer.
Nintendo built a huge video game empire by constantly introducing new audiences to its games while other companies were off spending millions on stuff for a small, niche audience. Even if you're aren't a gamer, you've heard of Mario and Pokémon.
We take it for granted in the digital era, but Polaroid film is one of the coolest technologies ever. An instant photo! (After shaking it for a little while.)
Mark Zuckerberg gave people something to do with the Internet. It's an incredible feat to have almost 1 billion people using your service.
Sony was the consumer electronics company for years. The Walkman and Discman were revolutionary products.
Google's search engine was exactly what the Internet needed. Without Google, it was a mess, and impossible to comprehend. In a few years, Google could be higher on this list depending on how some of its investments play out.
Jeff Bezos' company started as bookseller, and expanded to sell everything. It's now one of the most important tech companies in history. Its web services made it easier for startups to launch, its tablet is a credible rival to Apple, and its e-Reader is changing how we read books.
IBM has been an icon of the computer industry for 100 years, selling technology before the computer was even invented. It has since stretched the limits of computing on both ends, from inventing tiny uber powerful microprocessors to creating some of the most powerful supercomputers ever known and everything in between.
Intel invented the microprocessors that made personal computers possible. Before then, computers took up a corner of a room and cost tens of thousands of dollars. Intel cofounder Gordon Moore also famously predicted in 1965 that the amount of computing power that could be crammed onto the same sized chip would double every 18 months -- a prediction which held true for more than 30 years.
If Apple invented the consumer PC era, Microsoft popularised it. Microsoft's software powers over 90% of computers world wide. Say what you will about Microsoft, there are only a handful of tech companies in history that have accomplished as much.
Sure, AT&T is a punching bag today because of its crappy service. But let's not forget that it was the original telephone company! Could you image life without telephone calls? (If you're on AT&T wireless today, you can! Zing! Thank you, thank you, we'll be here all week, ladies and gentlemen.)
Apple kickstarted the consumer-focused PC era. It's now redefining the PC with the iPhone and the iPad. The last 15 years at Apple have been completely revolutionary.
GE is mostly seen as a financial engineering company nowadays, but it has a long, rich history of technology innovation, dating back to 1890 when Thomas Edison founded the Edison General Electric Company. The technology that came from GE and Edison is too rich to fully detail, but here's a small sample: the light bulb, the steam engine, the electric fan, radios, TVs, wind turbines, etc.
The car was a truly transformative technology, and Ford led the way. Ford changed America with the Model T and its manufacturing line.