This is a really interesting article, and a powerful image below. Very few people, technologists included, know where the technology they use every day originated. This very clearly shows how the consumers technologies we take for granted every day had the origins elsewhere.
Two interesting potential follow-on exercises that might be worth pursuing :
- Trace back the DARPA, etc. research projects in time to get an idea of how long the military used these technologies before they cascaded down to consumer tech.
- Trace back the precursor and enablement technologies further back from the ones in the chart below. For example, the microprocessor is a descendant of the transistor, which was advanced largely due to NASA and the space race in the 50s and 60s.
- The article uses i-devices because it’s what everyone knows. However, Apple is almost never a first-mover on technologies anymore. They benefit by making existing technologies, invented by others, more accessible to the broader, and sometimes techno-illiterate, masses. The iPod, for example, came out at least a half-decade after MP3 players from others. The Treo, Palm and Blackberry devices all substantially preceded the iPhone. Apple performs low-risk sustaining innovation, but receives accolades as though it were disruptive innovation (that’s their real genius, btw). SO ….. it would be educational to add the actual first-mover consumer products to this chart.