• Four young Israeli technology pioneers — Arik Vardi, Yair Goldfinger, Sefi Vigiser and Amnon Amir — sell their messaging program, ICQ, to America Online for $407 million. The free messaging program took them less than two months to build. Their first investor was Arik’s father, Yossi Vardi, considered one of the godfathers of Israel’s high-tech industry.
When they sold the company, Mirabilis, they had no revenues, but had some 100 million users worldwide. The success of the company, which revolutionized communication over the Internet, triggered a dot-com boom in Israel. Thousands of startup companies were founded as young entrepreneurs across Israel tried to emulate their success.
• Newsweek names Tel Aviv one of the 10 most technologically influential cities in the world.
• Given Imaging, developer of the PillCam miniature camera in a capsule for diagnosing and treating gastrointestinal diseases, is founded. Dr. Gabi Iddan, who worked in the missile division of Rafael, came up with the idea when he realized that missile technology could be miniaturized to create a medical product. The company revolutionized GI diagnostics, and in 2013 was sold to Irish company Covidien for $860m.
• Linor Abargil is the first Israeli to be crowned Miss World; and transgender Sharon Cohen (Dana International) wins the Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Diva.” She released the single in Europe where it was a hit.