If David Huang had left his native Taiwan for Sweden a generation ago, he would have taken a giant leap into the unknown.
Now, with the help of Skype, the 35-year-old businessman is able to reach relatives from his Stockholm home as easily as if they lived around the corner, and not half a world away.
“Skype has made work easier, but more important than that, it has enabled me to talk to my family whenever I feel like it,” he said.
Internet messaging service Skype, which celebrates its 10th anniversary on Thursday, has shrunk the world in profound ways that few could have foreseen in 2003.
A total of 300 million users make two billion minutes of online video calls a day. And in the surest sign of success, the brand name has been turned into a verb — a rare distinction shared by the likes of Xerox and Google.
In another sign of success, Skype has spawned competitors with a host of similar technologies, most importantly Apple’s FaceTime.
But revolutionary as Skype’s technology may seem, it didn’t start completely from scratch but built on existing communication technologies.
Skype was launched in late August 2003 by two Scandinavian technology entrepreneurs, Niklas Zennstroem of Sweden and Janus Friis of Denmark.
Skype, which allows its online users to make high-quality calls to each other anywhere in the world for free, quickly took off, bringing the world closer together.
Skype isn’t for humans only. At Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas, orangutans Mei and Mukah are rewarded for completing tasks by being allowed to communicate via Skype with orangutans in other zoos.