The information society

Lecture 2
Ewan Sutherland

Technological trends

Invention				Year	Country
electric telegraph			1837	UK
facsimile				1843	UK
Trans-Atlantic telegraph cable		1866	USA
typewriter				1870	Denmark
telephone				1877	USA
half-tone printing process		1880	USA
punched card				1884	USA
cylindrical record player		1888	USA
mechanical record player		1889	Germany
radio					1896	Italy/UK
vacuum tube (valve)			1913	USA
AM radio				1920	USA
dynamic loudspeaker			1924	USA
electric record player			1925	USA
television				1925	UK
magnetic tape recording			1935	Germany
FM radio				1936	Germany
photo-typesetting			1946	USA
transistor				1947	USA
long-playing record			1948	USA
xerography				1950	USA
electronic computer			1951	USA
colour television			1953	USA
Trans-Atlantic telephone cable		1956	USA
integrated circuit			1961	USA
communication satellite			1962	USA, USSR
packet switching			1964	USA
video cassette recorder			1970	Netherlands
fibre optic cable			1970	USA
microprocessor				1971	USA
personal computer			1976	USA
Trans-Atlantic fibre optic cable	1988	USA
AM= amplitude modulation
FM = frequency modulation

Driving forces

Technology and competition.

What has driven this?

World War Two

Continued into the Cold War.




The growth of IBM

William Gates III

Microsoft makes:


Moore’s Law

The number of transistors it is possible to put on a chip doubles every two years ... later reduced to every 1.5 years.

Gordon Moore, Intel Corporation.

Falling prices

In 1957 eight employees left Shockley to form Fairchild [Semiconductor]. In what has now become a high-tech legend, the eight sketched out a crude business plan and contacted Arthur Rock, who arranged financing from the East Coast firm Fairchild Camera and Instrument. Fairchild emerged almost immediately as a leader in the rapidly expanding semiconductor industry. In 1958 one of its scientists, Jean Hoerni, invented the planar process that made mass production of semiconductors possible. In 1959 another of the Fairchild's founders, Robert Noyce, coinvented the integrated circuit. And in 1961 its cutting edge R&D division developed the bipolar circuit. ... Fairchild's dramatic success exerted a powerful ‘demonstration effect’, initiating a trend of entrepreneurial innovation in semiconductors.

Florida and Kenney (1990) page 39.


Spin-offs from spin-offs

Intel is often pointed to as a victim of chronic entrepreneurship, and indeed past and current Intel officials have been among the most vocal critics of new spin-offs and start-ups. Roughly fifty Intel engineers defected to Daisy Systems, a pioneering workstation company. Most of MIPS’s microprocessor engineers were hired away from Intel. Zilog was formed by seven former Intel employees, and Sequent Computer Systems by eleven defecting Intel engineers. Seeq was launched by two senior managers from Intel’s Special Products Division.

Florida and Kenney (1990) page 86.

Innovative applications

Breakthrough syndrome

The breakthrough economy is premised on the comforting myth that innovation is synonymous with technological breakthrough--a myth in which most Americans continue to believe.

The legacy of America’s ability to develop and, more importantly, commercialize breakthroughs is indeed impressive in the areas of mass-produced automobiles, radio, and television and more recently in high technology.

Florida and Kenney (1992) “The Breakthrough Illusion” pages 3-4.



A UK PhD thesis is around 70,000 words or 420,000 words or 3,360,000 bits.

This can be transmitted in:

National policies

European Union

Pre-competitive research and development


South Korea's growth

Electronics has become its single most important source of export income, amounting to almost 30% of the value of all exported goods, and generating over a quarter of this nation’s Gross Domestic Product. Electronics has thus become a major industry in less than fifteen years, turning into a major vehicle of organizational and technological change and accounting for a substantial proportion of all manufacturing output.

Suarez-Villa and Han (1991) page 327.

Telecoms in S Korea

Malaysia 2020

Vision for national focus and direction.

To become a fully developed nation by 2020.

In telecommunications this involves:

Alternative changes

Integration and divergence

... the world of the late twentieth century is being moved by two currents. One, driven by technology and communications and trade, tends toward ever greater economic integration. The second is the revived tendency toward ethnic separatism, currently exacerbated by the collapse of a transcendent creed (Communism), the rise of religious fundamentalism, and increasing internal questioning (from Croatia to Somali) of national borders that were superimposed often from outside, upon very different ethnic groups; it is also exacerbated at times by economic fears.

Paul Kennedy (1993) page 287.

The fall of Marxism-Leninism

The fall of Marxism-Leninism

What caused it?

Soviet telecommunications

I can think of nothing more subversive

Josef Stalin to L D Trotsky

Soviet computing




"IT and Society" Heap et al. (1995)


Copyright © Ewan Sutherland, 1995.

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