Judging by the reactions on social media every time another prominent person died in 2016, most folks have been ready for months to see the year in the rear view mirror.
But as we speed into 2017, it’s still worth taking a final look at some of the more memorable images we came across here at GeekWire. They should serve to remind us of some of the bigger stories of the past year — in technology, space, science, random geekiness and more — in Seattle, across the country and around the world.
Donald Trump and tech
The real estate developer and former reality TV star kept the internet very busy for the entirety of 2016 as he ran for, and ultimately won, the U.S. presidency. Whether he’s tweeting at 3 a.m. or gathering with the leaders of giant tech companies, the president elect and his actions will continue to be a huge story in the new year and beyond.
Launch. Land. Repeat.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) October 6, 2016
Jeff Bezos had plenty to celebrate in 2016 when it came to his space travel aspirations. The Amazon billionaire’s Blue Origin managed to conduct historic tests that included launching a New Shepard suborbital spaceship and returning it to a safe Earth landing. The rocket team also managed to successfully separate an unmanned crew capsule in a successful test of its in-flight escape system. Bezos was a happy tweeter over a variety of missions.
Elon Musk, the space-racing counterpart to Bezos, suffered a setback in September when one SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, along with a telecommunications satellite supported by Facebook, were destroyed in a launch-pad explosion at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Footage of the event proved to be some of the most dramatic video we saw all year.
High-flying Seattle sisters
Rebecca and Kimberly Yeung, the elementary school girls with lofty ambitions, sent their Loki Lego Launcher 2.0 into the stratosphere at the end of July. The balloon craft built by the girls reached 101,325 feet and sent back dramatic footage of the curvature of the Earth.
Death of David Bowie
The musical icon was more than just a rock star, he was a shining starman for geeks who looked to science, tech and the heavens for out-of-this world inspiration — astronauts included. Ziggy Stardust died on Jan. 11 at age 69.
The debut of Prime Air
Microsoft’s man in charge
Satya Nadella took over as CEO of Redmond, Wash.-based software giant Microsoft in 2014, but he really hit stride in 2016. With a surging stock price, the acquisition of LinkedIn, creation of a huge team dedicated to artificial intelligence and more, it was safe to say that Nadella had Microsoft on the right track again.
Bridge for the future
The many thousands of Microsoft workers who cross Lake Washington to get to and from work are now doing so on a new-and-improved bridge and roadway. The new SR 520 floating bridge — the world’s longest such structure — opened in 2016, and GeekWire got an inside and behind-the-scenes look at the tech and engineering marvel.
Bertha keeps on digging
The giant tunneling machine carving out space for a new double-decker roadway beneath Seattle really got into a rhythm in 2016. The effort to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct and improve access to the city’s waterfront has not been without its share of snags, but views of the ongoing work showcased the marvel of man and machine taking place deep underground.
Big news brewing at Starbucks
The biggest news of the year for the Seattle-based coffee giant may have been a changing of the guard at the top, with longtime CEO Howard Schultz stepping aside. But GeekWire’s ties to the old print Seattle Post-Intelligencer run deep, and we couldn’t help notice the impact of ex-P-I photographer Joshua Trujillo’s role in helping Starbucks tell more of its own stories throughout the year.
Seahawks hitch a ride
Current and former Seattle Seahawks players hopped aboard a couple different types of vehicles in separate promotions meant to draw a crowd in the city this year. Richard Sherman and Bobby Wagner rode on a tank that crushed assorted items during a stunt at PAX West in September. And in December, ex-star Marshawn Lynch went Beast Mode on Amazon’s Treasure Truck.
Sports stars talk tech
At the inaugural GeekWire Sports Tech Summit at Safeco Field in July, stars such as Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin and L.A. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer mingled with other athletes, entrepreneurs, executives, techies and geeks.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane …
Luke Aikins of Shelton, Wash., is no technologist, but he proved to be one of the more compelling speakers at this year’s GeekWire Summit in October. The veteran skydiver told a hushed crowd in Seattle how he planned and pulled off a jump from 25,000 feet without a parachute over the summer. We can’t get enough of his video describing the feat.
KEXP’s musical notes
It’s one thing to listen to what we consider to be one of the best radio stations on the planet in Seattle’s KEXP. But to get a peek inside the independent station’s vast library is like getting your hands on legitimate musical history. DJ notes scrawled on records provide an illustration of what bands and albums and songs were hits or misses along the way.
Ready to IPO?
The IPO market was a bit sleepy in 2016, but a few companies did manage to start trading on the public markets. Those included Seattle area tech companies such as PhaseRx, Impinj and Apptio. Some are predicting a bigger resurgence in IPOs in 2017, with some big-name companies on the short list: Uber, Airbnb, Palantir and others. See our year-end IPO recap post here.
What are those things?
The giant orbs at the base of Amazon’s new towers, on a corporate campus taking shape north of downtown Seattle, proved to be a curiosity throughout the year. Artists’ renderings gave way to an actual steel exoskeleton and then large glass panels as the unique structures took shape, further defining Amazon’s massive footprint in the city.
Welcome to the neighborhood
Amazon wasn’t alone in transforming Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood in 2016 — at least when it came to the desire for future development. Fellow tech giants Google and Facebook both revealed plans to increase their presence in the city as Silicon Valley’s biggest companies continued to look north for more space and tech talent. The arrival of the tech giants is causing even more concern about gridlock in the neighborhood, and we explored the traffic issues in this post about the so-called “Mercer Mess.”
Chewbacca mom: Hear her roar
If it appeared easier than ever to “go viral” in 2016, look no further than a Texas mom in an electronic Chewbacca mask for proof of that. Candace Payne shattered Facebook’s record for video views by simply sitting in her car and laughing, reminding us that “it’s the simple joys in life.”