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As any observant lawyer or police officer will tell you, an eyewitness can get a surprising number of details wrong, even if they're giving a statement soon after the incident in question. After digging forensically through 20 years of press releases, product launches, and newspaper headlines to find the narratives that are still important today paints a picture that reinforces some notions but undermines others.

Perhaps the most interesting trend of all is the sheer degree to which we have become invested in personal technology as a culture. Your mobile phone in particular has gone from a device for taking and making calls on the go, to being a portal between you and a constantly evolving web of social interactions. And a place to look at funny pictures of cats. It's a platform of mass consumption, but that content comes increasingly from the users themselves, upending the largely one-way conversation of TV, film, and radio.

What insights do you glean from our timeline? Let us know in the comments below.

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.