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Moore’s Law & Planned Obsolescence Construct a Technology Traffic Jam: Part 3

Part III: In 1965 Intel co-founder Gordon Moore boldly predicted that the number of transistors on a chip would double about every two years. He was right.

To partially understand how the increased production of new products leaped into the stratosphere, take a 40-year step back to 1965, a time when the computer and chip industries were in their nascent stages. At that time, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, a man donning a pair of visionary goggles and a remarkable engineering aptitude, boldly predicted that the number of transistors on a chip would double about every two years. His prediction turned out to be accurate – even if few understood what he was saying at the time – and came to be known as Moore’s Law.

Network cables and servers at a technology center from Shutterstock

Moore’s Law wasn’t just prescient, the growth of the computer and storage industries soon resembled exponential calculations. And as they grew, the products that were created had drastically shortened lifespans making the original definition of planned obsolescence seem like child’s play. Put under the microscopic perspective of a biologist, a fungus had been born that received its only nutrition from nothing other than the ether.

Gordon Moore Credit: OnInnovation

Now almost a half-century past and well beyond the first decade of this new century, many contend Moore’s Law is dead. Carl Anderson, an IBM researcher for server design, claims Moore’s Law is not only in the mortuary, it is entirely predictable. Exponential growth eventually ends in every industry. Think of the railroads, of Wells Fargo’s first industry, of the Pony Express – their growth quotients were being reformulated. Their matrix for unlimited growth had become impossible. They were functionally obsolete – dead yet, but ready to order caskets.

Should we expect that something would evolve from the end of Moore’s Law? People and manufacturers have long existed with the ingrained capacity to create something newer and better, something that creates a new roadmap for growth and its spectacular act of expansion.

Yet we’ve now learned the earth is not always so able to support such an infinite production food chain. Newer and better models or not, this globe’s once perfect playground for great imaginings that never stopped growing is not so able to support all expectations, especially when by 2050 the glum number of 9 billion folks start writing down this planet’s name as their return address on the corner of the envelope.

Next: Planned Obsolescence & the Balloon That Popped – Few can forget the housing bubble that climaxed in 2007/2008 before someone slammed on the brakes. Said bubble – or was it a zeppelin – was once perfect demo of planned obsolescence and Brook Stevens’ mantra, “Instilling in the buyer the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary.”

Photos: Gordon Moore from  OnInnovation, Network cables and servers at a technology center from Shutterstock

About this report: The following series on planned obsolescence is taken from a book Glenn Meyers presently writing, “The Growth Quotient.” Here is an archive of these posts:

  1. The Greatest Invention: Planned Obsolescence – Part 1
  2. The Freight Train for Planned Obsolescence Jumps to High-Speed Tracks – Part 2
  3. Moore’s Law & Planned Obsolescence Construct a Technology Traffic Jam: Part 3
  4. Planned Obsolescence & the Bubble That Burst: Part 4
  5. Unplanned Obsolescence & the Texas Back Roads: Part 5
  6. Planned Obsolescence and the Bic Effect – Part 6
  7. The Evolution of Planned Obsolescence: Innovation’s Litter – Part 7

Written by Glenn Meyers

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers is editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.


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