2012: The year Anonymous and many others protested against ACTA and SOPA

2012 started with many protests; not only online, when sites such as Wikipedia and Reddit went dark to object to SOPA/PIPA, but also offline, as Anonymous supporters and others marched to defend Internet freedom from controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

stop acta protests via getty images 730x473 2012s biggest tech news in pictures

Image credit: HRVOJE POLAN / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Kim Dotcom fought DoJ charges against Megaupload and himself

Megaupload’s larger-than-life founder Kim Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand during a controversial giant raid on his mansion, only to be released on bail a few weeks later. He is been fighting the DoJ charges against Megaupload, his team and himself since then, while working on his upcoming Mega service.

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Image credit: Sandra Mu / Getty Images

2012: The (other) year Bradley Manning spent incarcerated

Bradley Manning was formerly charged with ‘aiding the enemy’ and 21 other counts in Wikileaks case. During his hearing in February, he declined to enter a plea ahead of the trial, which is set to start next year.

U.S. Army Arraigns PFC Bradley Manning In Wikileaks Case via getty images 730x490 2012s biggest tech news in pictures

Image credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images

2012: The year Invisible Children released Kony 2012

NGO Invisible Children released its short film ‘Kony 2012′ last March to spread the word about its campaign against indicted war criminal Joseph Kony. While he still has to be arrested, the video went viral, scoring over 95 million views on YouTube and over 18.3 million plays on Vimeo. [See TNW's post on the 10 best memes of 2012.]

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Image credit: Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

2012: The year the Fair Labor Association audited Foxconn working conditions

After repeated negative reports on working conditions, Apple asked the non-profit Fair Labor Association to perform audits in the manufacturer’s plants in China. Although it later delivered a mostly complimentary report about Apple’s progress in fixing existing issues at Foxconn, a new controversy emerged when it was revealed that Foxconn factories enlist underage workers as ‘interns’ to meet demand. [See our post Apple’s 2012 in Review.]

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Image credit: AFP / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Facebook bought Instagram

When Facebook acquired photo-sharing company Instagram last April, it was announced that the deal value was one billion in cash and stock. While this amount has fluctuated since then, this takeover remains a game-changer for the digital industry, and the terms of service debacle seems to indicate that we haven’t seen the full picture yet.

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Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

2012: The year of Facebook’s IPO

On the heels of acquiring Instagram, Facebook made its long-anticipated debut at the NASDAQ stock exchange. While this was the largest-ever IPO for an Internet company, it has been surrounded with controversy and lawsuits.

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Image credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year we missed (then finally got) Google Maps on iOS

When Apple first demonstrated its new map application to featured on iOS 6 at WWDC earlier this year, few were those who would have been to predict how badly it would be mocked and criticized once it replaced Google Maps on the brand’s devices. There’s no doubt about it, Apple still has a lot to envy to Google in that respect, but the end of the year also brought good news, as Google Maps finally found their way back to iOS – as a standalone app.

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Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

2012: The year we discovered Google Glass (and the Nexus 7)

Google Glass may not be available yet, but the futuristic product wowed anyone who was following Google I/O – either from the audience or online. As you may remember, Google used its annual developer conference last June as an opportunity to organize a giant live stunt, that culminated in skydivers landing on the roof of San Francisco’s Moscone center. During the event, the company also unveiled the Nexus 7 tablet, which became available for pre-order through Google Play on the same day. [See TNW's post Google's year in review.]

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Image credit: KIMIHIRO HOSHINO / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year a Higgs boson was almost certainly discovered

“Scientists at CERN have announced that they’re 99.99% sure that they’ve found a new sub-atomic particle, and that it is likely to be the elusive Higgs boson – often referred to as the “God Particle,” TNW’s Martin Bryant wrote last July. The title of his post? ‘Higgs boson in plain English, and why it’s so important‘ – a must-read if you want to understand what it’s all about.

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Image credit: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Marissa Mayer became Yahoo CEO

Marissa Mayer left Google earlier this year to become Yahoo’s new CEO. Since then, she went on to hire key staff, and gave us a glimpse of what’s coming up at Yahoo with a big redesign of its Mail service and an overdue but important update to Flickr iOS app.

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Image credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

2012: The year Square got into Starbucks

Starbucks is now accepting mobile payments via Square in 7,000 US coffee shops. This is the result of the tremendous progress Jack Dorsey’s latest company made over the last few months. As you may remember, the coffee giant invested $25 million in its recent Series D round, valuing it at $3.25 billion.

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Image credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

2012: The year Ecuador granted political asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

The net is closing on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after being granted political asylum by the Latin American country whilst facing extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault.

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Image credit: Rosie Hallam / Getty Images

2012: The year NASA Curiosity sent us pictures from Mars

NASA certainly made history this year when Curiosity Rover landed on Mars, and started to send pictures to help the world keep track of its fascinating journey.

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Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech via Getty Images

2012: The year Neil Armstrong passed away

Astronaut legend Neil Armstrong died on August 25 at the age of 82. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” he famously declared as he became the first man to walk on the Moon.

neil armstrong on the moon via getty images 730x486 2012s biggest tech news in pictures

Image credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images

2012: The year Samsung was fined in the US for breaching Apple’s patents

A US court fined Samsung Electronics $1.05 billion last August for breaching Apple’s patents. However, this isn’t the end of the story, and multiple Apple vs. Samsung cases are still pending in several countries, while the South Korean firm won rulings in South Korea, Japan, and the UK.

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Image credit: JUNG YEON-JE / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was named Businessperson of The Year by Fortune Magazine

Jeff Bezos introduced the fifth generation of Kindle devices during Amazon’s press conference last September. Earlier this year, Amazon’s CEO was named businessperson of the year by Fortune. As we reported, things weren’t always as easy: speaking to US talk-show host Charlie Rose, Bezos recalled that he had to attend 60 investor meetings to raise the $1 million of funding he needed to get Amazon started.

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Image credit: JOE KLAMAR / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Apple launched the iPhone 5

In the picture below, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple senior vice president of Industrial Design Jonathan Ive and Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters look on as an attendee tests the new iPhone 5 during an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on September 12, 2012 in San Francisco.

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Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

2012: The year RIM’s BlackBerry 10 was announced – and postponed

Troubled mobile giant Research in Motion (RIM) took the opportunity of its Blackberry World conference to announce the upcoming release of its next mobile OS, Blackberry 10. Initially scheduled for 2012, it was later postponed, and the first official launch event for the platform and two of its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones will be held on January 30, 2013. In the meantime, it opened opened app submissions, and leaks of its new L-series device have already surfaced.

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Image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

2012: The year bullied teen Amanda Todd committed suicide

Canadian teenager Amanda Todd committed suicide last October, five weeks after posting a YouTube video about the bullying she endured. The video has since gone viral and Todd’s story has made international headlines. According to Google Zeitgeist report, her name was one of the top ten trending search terms this year.

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Image credit: MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Felix Baumgartner jumped from the stratosphere

Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking freefall from the edge of space generated no less than 8 million concurrent livestreams on YouTube. The video of Red Bull Stratos mission also made it into YouTube’s top 10 for 2012.

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Image credit: Manfred Laux / Getty Images

2012: The year Apple unveiled the iPad mini and iPad 4

When Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed iPad’s fourth generation last October, the announcement was quickly overshadowed by the unveiling of the smaller, lighter iPad mini. Both tablets launched in the US at the beginning of November, with Apple selling three million of its new devices in only three days.

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Image credit: KIMIHIRO HOSHINO / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Swiss clocks became even more iconic

Apple signed a licensing agreement with the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) last October, ending their dispute concerning the use of its iconic clock design in iOS 6.

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Image credit: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Microsoft launched Windows 8 and Surface RT

Microsoft officially released the Surface RT tablet, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 last October. According to early Christmas retail checks, it seems that demand for the Surface is modest compared to iPad and Kindle Fire. [See TNW's story on the evolution of the tablet market this year.]

Microsoft Surface tablet at Windows 8 launch event via getty images 730x549 2012s biggest tech news in pictures

Image credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY /AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Disney bought Star Wars studio Lucasfilm

Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in cash and stock last October, and announced that it plans to release a Star Wars film every one to three years from 2015 on, starting with Episode 7. Disney also took ownership of Lucasfilm’s technologies, as well as its other franchises like Indiana Jones.

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Image credit: Jim Bauer on Flickr

2012: The year the US election also happened online

President Obama’s election victory tweet became the most retweeted message on Twitter ever last November. This was the acme of a campaign in which social media and the Internet played a central role.

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Image credit: LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Rovio’s Angry Birds became ubiquitous

Three years after it first launched Angry Birds on iOS, Rovio is bigger than ever, as the franchise is turning into a global brand. Earlier this year, it unveiled Angry Birds Star Wars, Bad Piggies and a flurry of offline licensed products, amid speculations that it could IPO in 2013.
angry birds star wars via getty images 730x485 2012s biggest tech news in picturesImage credit: Bethany Clarke / Getty Images

2012: The year the BBC could have done without

BBC Director General George Entwistle resigned last November following a report on flagship current affairs show Newsnight, which falsely accused former British politician Lord McAlpine of child abuse (without directly naming him). Entwistle will be replaced by former director of news Tony Hall, described by his peers as a “digital pioneer.” The investigation into BBC’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against broadcaster Jimmy Savile spanning several decades is still ongoing.

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Image credit: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images

2012: The year the Nexus 4 launched – and sold out

We have recently listed Google’s Nexus 4 as one of the six best smartphones of 2012. Not only is it beautiful and powerful, but it comes with an insanely low price tag of $299 for the 8GB model and $349 for the 16GB model. The only issue? Good luck finding one, as Google is struggling to adjust its supply chain.

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2012: The year we discovered Ashton Kutcher and Steve Jobs could look alike

Ashton Kutcher is playing Steve Jobs in an upcoming biopic that is set to premiere at Sundance Film Festival next month. Based on early pictures published on TMZ, he was definitely a good casting choice.

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2012: The year Nintendo put its hopes in the Wii U

Nintendo is hoping to sell 5.5 million of its Wii U by the end of its fiscal year, which comes on March 31. YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon apps are now available on the new console.

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Image credit: TORU YAMANAKA / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year McAfee became a fugitive

TNW’s Alex Wilhelm described the tale of John McAfee as “one of technology’s more bizarre moments of the year.” The US internet security pioneer is now back in the US after his attempt to find asylum in Guatemala failed. He is wanted for questioning in Belize over the murder of his neighbor. He has been using the Internet to defend himself from these suspicions.

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Image credit: Luis Soto / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year Pope Benedict XVI (aka @pontifex) sent his first tweet

Pope Benedict XVI sent his first tweet from the Vatican on December 12, 2012, using the handle @pontifex to bless his hundreds of thousands of new Internet followers.

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Image credit: VINCENZO PINTO / AFP / Getty Images

2012: The year PSY’s Gangnam Style reached 1 billion YouTube views

PSY’s Gangnam Style was the first video to reach one billion views on YouTube. The South Korean mega-hit was also Google’s top trending video in its YouTube Rewind retrospective for 2012, and led the Pocket’s most-saved video ranking.

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Image credit: GREG WOOD / AFP / Getty Images

Don’t miss our other 2012 lists for more great recommendations.