Technological advancements abound through history and helped push civilization forward—sometimes faster, sometimes slower—to greater wealth and better health. From cavemen mastering fire and using rocks as tools, to movable type, the Industrial Revolution, radios, light bulbs, cars, and microchips—all were mind-bending breakthroughs in their time and paved the way toward further innovation and technological advancement.
Like the Industrial Revolution, the last decades have heralded a new historical turning point: the Information Age. This is a period of instant and near unlimited proliferation and access to information—a modern-day renaissance where information is sought and shared freely. But how did it come to be, and what might it mean for investors? Good, informed investing decisions often require the context of history. No, you don't need to become an expert on the history of technology, but it's worth taking a stroll through the past to see where we've been to get a sense of where we may go.
Semiconductors, computers, communication devices, and the Internet all played a role fostering the Information Age. This chapter details a brief history of their development. It also covers the build-up to the 1990s Tech bubble, how it burst, and its aftermath.
We'll start with chips. Sure, it would be great fun (and maybe a bit tiresome) to begin with the wheel as the first technology and work all ...