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The tech year in photos

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

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Some stories are best told with pictures, and many of the big tech stories of 2009 were no exception.

This year, our photographer and team of camera-wielding reporters went on location to capture not only the details of tech news stories, but also the sights and sounds of the places they happened and the people behind them. As the year--and the decade--come to a close, we look back at some of the more memorable images from CNET in 2009.

Once again, the year kicked off with lots of Apple news coming from Macworld in San Francisco, where we were introduced to an updated 17-inch MacBook Pro, iPhoto updates, and DRM-free songs in iTunes. Rumors of an iPhone Nano failed to pan out.

Eventually, of course, we did see the emergence of Apple's newest iPhone, the iPhone 3GS, and later in the year the launch of T-Mobile's Google Android-based phone, the MyTouch, a lesser-known phone that nevertheless launched with great fanfare.

Hacker communities continued to delve into the do-it-yourself world and rework systems, a theme closely connected to the tech industry. Newly opened spaces like the Noisebridge Hacker Space in San Francisco and the Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, Calif., invited us in to take a look at their headquarters dedicated to breaking things down and rebuilding them.

Once again, tinkerers and creative types gathered for the annual Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif. The DIY entrepreneurial spirit that thrives in the Silicon Valley high-tech industry has roots in Halted, the electronics surplus store where engineers have shopped for computer parts to build their projects over the years.

Facebook outgrew its space and moved to bigger digs in Palo Alto, Calif., and we took a look inside their offices, as well.

Communities came together to educate, recycle, and reuse technology at Oakland's Technology Exchange West, and as green tech and sustainability continued market growth in 2009, the Bay Area showcased some innovative energy projects, including the integration of solar power into municipal transportation projects and a unique program to compost food scraps into methane to generate power for local water treatment facilities.

The health care industry is another that took center stage in 2009, and Kaiser Permanente showed CNET some of the steps it's taking to modernize health and medicine to provide better treatment as we toured their Sidney R. Garfield Health Care Innovation Center in San Leandro, Calif.

We also took a look at some of the more forward-thinking innovations NASA explored over the course of the year, including aerospace diagnostic testing inside the world's largest wind tunnel and the Vertical Motion Simulator, at which NASA is currently developing the next generation lunar landers.

Space exploration, always on the forefront of technological innovation, is constantly evolving, and CNET visited the Marscape at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., where scientists are busy playing around with the hardware and software that will one day become our eyes and ears in space.

Learning from the fusion ignition of the sun, the Nation Ignition Facility invited us to take a look at the world's largest laser facility. Back on Earth, NOAA announced a five-year educational partnership that will use cutting-edge technology aboard the Okeanos Explorer to bring the excitement of deep-sea discovery to a wider audience.

The tech world wasn't all science in 2009. We had fun too. At the E3 game expo, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Electronic Arts shared their visions for the future of gaming. Back in the Bay Area, musicians got busy applying technology to their acts.

The band 0th used video-teleconferencing program Skype to give cross-continental live performances, and Ben Lewry at Visionary Instruments in Oakland, Calif., embedded video screens into custom guitars for a whole new multimedia on-stage performance.

For our annual Road Trip feature, traveling reporter Daniel Terdiman toured the West and the Great Plains states. Along the way, he explored Cheyenne Mountain, the underground station known as "America's Fortress" and that houses NORAD, Air Force Space Command, U.S. Strategic Command, the National Security Agency, and other defense agencies; saw a former Wyoming coal mine that has been reclaimed and turned into a huge wind farm; trekked to the Utah Earthworks, the late Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty and his wife Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels; and was the first reporter to see the completed solid rocket booster designed for future missions to the moon--and maybe Mars.

--James Martin

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