AJAX did not just happen overnight. I have been working with AJAX since 1997, although back then it was just called DHTML, and the XML part hadn't been built into the browsers, or supplanted by JSON yet.
After creating sample code for IE4 beta releases for Microsoft, the true power of what was available became clear. A chance project to design an interface for the "car of the future" for the 1997 Tokyo Auto Show for Daimler/Chrysler led to our first experiment with a functional interface that predicted online tv and broadband
Following that, I designed and developed one of the first drag-and-drop shopping carts in 1999 for ibid photo, which pioneered such technology as asynchronous data loading and server transactions, drag-and-drop web interface and drop-down menus.
Next, Vectiv needed to simplify its overly-complex interface for real estate mapping. Used by companies such as Starbucks and Hilton Hotels, it was used to help companies combine geographic and demographic data with real estate intelligence in order to make decisions about location placement. With multiple data entry and intersect points, it was difficult to use and hard to manage the complex task of gathering map-based real estate intelligence. The revolutionary 2001 interface brought mapping to the desktop in a way that was not seen again until the release of Google Maps
My grandest venture into the early AJAX world came with our involvement in the development of the most prominent commercial AJAX API - Tibco's General Interface. In 2002, we aided in the development of Iconix Bioscience's Drug Matrix application that simplified the process of analyzing the vast amounts of data required in the pharmaceutical creation process. This knowledge allowed us to continue on and develop another AJAX API from the ground up for a financial services client
This pioneering view of technology and user interface is still with us waiting for the next project that will allow us to stretch the boundaries of what's possible.