If you look into IT field, you will probably agree that it’s really a fast-growing field. You may ask why our computers are running faster and faster or our smart phones become so powerful that they can easily beat any computer 10 years ago? You may ask why we can pay much less money to buy a IT product than before while at the same time, we can still pay a lot of money to buy some high-end products like iPhone. Or you may ask why IT companies upgrade their products so frequently? Well, It’s like Hm, I’m still using iPhone 5 which is good, but iPhone 6 is coming or Windows 7 is not bad but what the hell, I’ll upgrade it to Windows 10. Well, such stories always happen. As you will see, many of the interesting phenomenon in IT field can be explained by a simple curve which has ruled the IT world in the past 40 years.
Here it is! It’s called Moore’s law. It’s named after Moore since Moore first proposed it around 40 years ago based on his observation. It tells us that the number of transistors we can put on a integrated circuit doubles every 18 months. By the way, transistor is the fundamental building block of modern electronic devices. That’s all we need to know here. Let’s look at this graph. The x axis is date, and the y axis is transistor count. It’s almost a purely linear growth. But note that the y axis is in logarithmic scale, so actually it’s an exponential growth. Well, this is the first amazing point in this story. As we know, exponential growth is one of the fastest growth we can have in this world. Why do we magically have it here? Well, no one knows why but it really happens as you can see from the graph. And as a result, the computing power as well as storage capacity of computers have dramatically grown in the past 40 years.
That’s the first part of the story. The second part is the prices of IT products decrease by half every 18 months. The reasoning here is as the manufacture processing technology doubles every 18 months, prices of IT products decrease accordingly. Strictly speaking, it’s not always that case, but you got the idea. Well, we customers are all happy about this fact as we only need to wait about 18 months then we can get our favorite IT product in a half price. If we even wait a long enough time, it looks like we can get any IT product we like.
However, we all know that never happens. Here comes the third part of the story. IT companies are never ever happy about the second part of the story, since no one likes to earn half less money every 18 months. Let’s guess, what will they do? They upgrade their products and sell new products to customers with the same price. Later on, they never sell old products any more. By this way, they survive.
That’s the whole story I am going to share today. Now it begins to make sense why IT field is growing so fast. Since this curve itself grows so fast for some magic reason, there is no reason for IT field to slow down.