2013: The Year in Tech Toons

There was no shortage of big technology news in 2013; let's review -- and poke fun at -- 12 of the most notable stories of the year.

2013: The year in tech toons
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson

2013 is almost over which means it must be time to stop taking selfies for a few minutes and look back at some of the big tech events of the year and say “Wait - what? I forgot THAT happened!” Like most every year these days, 2013 was chock full of big tech news generated by some of the usual suspects (Apple, Facebook, Twitter) and some not-so-usual suspects (a low-ranking NSA techie named Edward Snowden). Here now are twelve of the most notable tech stories of the year as they were documented via cartoons by ITworld’s own Phil Johnson (that’s me!). Enjoy!

Apple comes closer to total world domination
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Apple comes closer to total world domination

In January, Apple - in an apparent attempt to get their hands on what little cash left in the world that they don’t already have - was granted a service mark for the design and layout of its retail stores. Apparently, the world’s most valuable company felt the need to apply for the mark back in 2010, because of things like fake Apple stores popping up here and there. This makes us wonder just what else Apple plans to copyright or trademark in 2014? Sadly, we can think of a few things...

Bad news for Yahoo!’s remote workers
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Bad news for Yahoo!’s remote workers

In February, recently minted Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer reversed the company’s long-standing policy that allowed people to work from home. She gave all employees who worked remotely three months to get themselves into an office - not to mention a pair of pants. We could only assume that it was part of her master plan to lead Yahoo! into future by taking it back to the past which, no doubt will soon result in pneumatic tubes replacing email for internal company communications.

Marissa Mayer pays a high price for Summly
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Marissa Mayer pays a high price for Summly

In March, Yahoo! stayed in the news by spending $30 million to buy Summly, a company that developed a mobile news reader founded by 17 year-old Nick D’Aloisio. D’Aloisio said that he didn’t have particular plans for the money, other than to buy a new computer, a pair of sneakers and to outsource his house chores. But we can only imagine what non-monetary demands young Nick tried to extract from Marissa Mayer.

Facebook tries to take over your mobile device
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Facebook tries to take over your mobile device

In April, Facebook released its new Home app for Android devices and Chat Heads functionality for iOS. Facebook Home, essentially, integrated Facebook into your whole mobile device experience, while the Chat Heads portion of it let users chat with their Facebook friends’ disembodied heads while doing non-Facebook things on their devices. Facebook Home was, to put it kindly, a huge flop because people apparently decided they didn’t want Facebook taking over every aspect of their devices. There’s only so much Mark Zuckerberg that we can all take in our lives.

Tim Cook says Apple is not a crook
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Tim Cook says Apple is not a crook

In May, Apple once again took over the tech headlines when CEO Tim Cook appeared before a Senate subcommittee to deny that the company was avoiding taxes, legally or otherwise. Cook said that Apple complies with both the letter and the spirit of the laws, apparently with a straight face and no fingers crossed behind his back. While he came through it just fine, Cook later said he hadn’t sweat that much since he had to tell Steve Jobs that all of his black turtlenecks were at the dry cleaner.

Edward Snowden takes his NSA secrets to Russia
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Edward Snowden takes his NSA secrets to Russia

In June, the whole world watched to see where Edward Snowden and his laptop full of NSA secrets would end up. While Snowden holed up in the Moscow airport waiting to see if Ecuador or Cuba (or anybody) would give him asylum, the rest of us kept tabs on his movements via the media - while the NSA, no doubt, kept tabs on us keeping tabs on him. Once upon a time things like the Cone of Silence was a silly sitcom prop, but now don't seem so silly to some of us. In the end, Russia granted Snowden temporary asylum and the NSA was left saying, “We missed him by that much.”

The U.S. government solves its computer virus problem
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
The U.S. government solves its computer virus problem

In July, foreshadowing even bigger (and more embarrassing) tech problems later in the year for the U.S. government, the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration destroyed $170,000 worth of computer equipment it believed were infected with viruses. Not only was it an expensive blunder, but it also struck fear into the heart of people waiting for the government to take over health care later in 2013 (What could go wrong?). The government probably wouldn’t have spent quite so much money if they hadn’t used a bunch of $600 hammers to do the work.

Jeff Bezos channels his inner William Randolph Hearst
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Jeff Bezos channels his inner William Randolph Hearst

In August, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, apparently with not enough to do running the world’s largest online retailer, bought the Washington Post for $250 million. Despite what China thought, his purchase of the venerable newspaper was no mistake. After closing the deal in October, Bezos traveled to Washington, D.C. to take possession of the Post, rather than pay the enormous shipping costs. While his first couple of months at the helm have been uneventful, the mind races with the possibilities of how horribly wrong this all could go.

Apple releases TWO new iPhones
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Apple releases TWO new iPhones

In September, Apple - in an apparent attempt to get their hands on what little cash left in the world that they don’t already have - released not one but two new iPhones, the 5c and the 5s, as well as iOS 7. Not surprisingly, the Apple fanboys and girls got as excited as ever and Apple rode sales of the new phones to a quarterly sales record and the 5s became the best-selling smartphone. While iPhone 6 rumors abound, there’s no word yet on when it will come out but you can safely assume that somebody, somewhere is probably already waiting in line for it.

Oh, the humanity! HealthCare.gov crashes and burns
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Oh, the humanity! HealthCare.gov crashes and burns

In October, HealthCare.gov, the new online marketplace for people to buy health insurance and the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act - AKA Obamacare - was launched. As everyone knows by now, the site had a few "glitches" (the same way the Titanic or the Hindenburg had “glitches,” minus the body count). Since then, the government has been hard at work trying to fix all the problems and progress is slowly being made, though there’s still a ways to go. In the meantime, those who are having trouble using the site are advised to take two aspirin and try again in the morning.

Twitter - and its executives - make a bundle
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Twitter - and its executives - make a bundle

In November, Twitter took over the tech and business headlines when it had its long-awaited IPO. Not surprisingly, the IPO was a big success, with the shares selling way above the initial price. Since then, the stock has continued to go up making instant millionaires - and, in a few cases, billionaires - out of a number of Twitter founders and executives, such as CEO Dick Costolo. But it wasn’t only the suits in the executive suite who made out like bandits; rumor has it the Fail Whale used some of its newfound wealth to get lap-band surgery.

Amazon announces plans to fill the sky with drones
Credit: ITworld/Phil Johnson
Amazon announces plans to fill the sky with drones

In December, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced on 60 Minutes that the company was testing out delivering packages via drones. The idea is that electric octocopters would deliver smallish packages to anyone within 10 miles of an Amazon fulfillment center. Not to be outdone, we also found out that UPS is working on its own delivery drones. If you’re worried about how we’ll all tell the Amazon and UPS drones that will soon be filling skies apart, don’t worry - the UPS drones will be the ones in brown shorts.