Culture, Documentary, Economy, Technology

Planned Obsolescence


Did you know that the lifetime of light bulbs once used to last for more than 2500 hours and was reduced on purpose to just 1000 hours? Did you know that nylon stockings once used to be that stable that you could even use them as tow rope for cars and its quality was reduced just to make sure that you will soon need a new one? Did you know that you might have a tiny little chip inside your printer that was just placed there so that your device will break after a predefined number of printed pages thereby assuring that you buy a new one? Did you know that Apple originally did not intend to offer any battery exchange service for their iPods/iPhones/iPads just to enable you to continuously contribute to the growth of this corporation?

Shelby LightbulbThis strategy was maybe first thought through already in the 19th century and later on for example motivated by Bernhard London in 1932 in his paper Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence. The intentional design and manufacturing of products with a limited lifespan to assure repeated purchases is denoted as planned/programmed obsolescence and we are all or at least most of us upright and thoroughly participating in this doubtful endeavor. Or did you not recently think about buying a new mobile phone / computer / car / clothes / because your old one unexpectedly died or just because of this very cool new feature that you oh so badly need?

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