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Craigslist

Before Craigslist, people hoping to sell an item, advertise an apartment for rent or find a blind date had to pay for an ad in the local newspaper or some specialized publication, and often write in a series of indiscernible abbreviations to keep the cost low. Potential customers, meanwhile, had to navigate a Dewey Decimal system-like labyrinth to find what they were looking for.

This Internet site took the best of the classified ad business, simplified it and significantly lowered the cost. Consumers flocked to it, while newspapers saw the once lucrative field of classified advertising dry up, costing big players tens of millions of dollars per year.

Today, the site posts 80 million classified advertisements each month, including 2 million job listings, most of them for free.

Photo: Getty Images