Next Up Previous Contents Index
Next: Five Industrial Revolutions Up: Nanotechnology in Manufacturing Previous: Oh Yeah!

Technological Transitions

  Handoff from one technology to the next

Mechanisms ----> Electronics
Vacuum Tubes ----> Transistors

I call the points where a rapidly developing technology takes off and starts to displace its predecessor ``technological transitions.'' These are perilous times, but they are the times when great industries are founded. Rarely do leaders of the last technology play a significant role in the next; they've usually become encumbered with a bureaucratic superstructure focused on managing a mature market but incapable of acting on the small scale with the rapid pace that's needed to develop its successor--the new market that's inexorably displacing them.

Having grown out of their period of rapid growth, they've forgotten it's possible. They value caution over the very assumption of risk that built their industries in the first place, and through caution, they place at risk everything they have.

Technological transitions are great times to make gobs and gobs of money. Autodesk got on board a relatively minor technological transition in 1982--the second subwave of personal computers, which was a ripple of the microprocessor surge, itself part of the semiconductor tide, contained within the automation industrial revolution. Even so, we managed to turn a hundred thousand dollars into more than a billion in less than eight years.

Just imagine what you could do with a real industrial revolution.

Editor: John Walker