Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Levitating globes, calculators and $18 digital cameras

DeLong notes how cheap computing changes the economics of toy construction:
Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Levitating Desktop Globes

...It's now cheaper to have a computer sense the position of the globe and increase or decrease the strength of the top magnet in order to pull the globe up or down than to have a cradle of magnets underneath...
Silicon is sand, and sand is cheap. In the same vein, my local gas station is selling a Philips digital camera/camcorder for $18.00. Sand and plastic; once the developments cost has been recouped there's no basement for the price.

Calculators took the same route 30 years ago. Like embedded chips and the low end digital camera they were just sand and plastic; eventually low end calculators became so cheap they could only be sold as add-ons and gimmicks.

Curiously, the personal computer has remained conspicuously expensive. Only recently has mainstream computing begun to approach to price point of the Commodore 64 ... Too many moving parts ....

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