Speed of Technology Adaptation

by | Jun 1, 2017


Here’s how long it took for each of the following technologies to reach 50 million users worldwide:

  • The telephone                       75 Years
  • Air travel                                   68 Years
  • Automobile                             62 Years
  • Light Bulb                                46 Years
  • Radio                                          38 Years
  • Television                                 13 Years
  • Credit Cards                            12 Years
  • Cell Phones                             12 Years
  • Internet                                        4 Years
  • Facebook                                 3.5 Years
  • Twitter                                          2 Years
  • Angry Birds (space)            35 Days

While the above stats make the point that technology has generally been diffusing into our daily lives quicker than in the past, a few caveats are in order:  (1) The worldwide population is much bigger now than in was when some of the earlier technologies like the telephone made their debut.  50 million users was a much bigger deal 100 years ago. (2) It can be quite difficult to mark the beginning of a technology.  Did the internet begin in the 1980s when it was just a Dept of Defense project or in 1993 when it was publicly available?  Thus, while the above stats are instructive, they are far from precise and a number of different sources have different time-frames to 50 million users.

Another interesting view is the penetration rate of various technologies into our households by percentage.  Here’s a chart:


How many years to reach 50% (in blue) and 80% (gold) of the US population is interesting as well. Chart is as of 2012:




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