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Anybody awake knows Moores Law--or should At a constant price point computer chips get twice as good every 18 to 24 months Thats not exactly what Gordon Moore wrote in 1965 when he laid down his law Physicists dont use words like good No Moore was thinking about transistor densities on silicon chips But during the 1980s thanks to the amazing rise of the personal computer Moores Law took on a larger meaning It became the symbol for exponential gains in technology For example I bought my first hard-disk drive in 1984 It stored 20 megabytes and cost 500 A few weeks ago I bought a disk drive that stores 2000 times more data than my 1984 model did Yet it costs only 399 Even better Apple throws in the music player for free Its my iPod you see Moores Law has a flip side It goes like this At a constant performance point tech prices tend to drop 30 to 40 per year Recall the Intel 486 chip It was blazing fast in 1987 It sported a premium price to match--750--and ran PCs costing 4000 about 7000 in todays dollars Where are those 486-class chips today Theyre running BlackBerrys Treos and the like and sell for 25 The flip side of Moores Law is the reason China will surpass the US next year in Internet users This is what happens when decent PCs and handhelds can be had for less than 500 Amid the piles of gushing words written about the Internet during the 1990s I recall none about cheap techs lifting poorer countries out of poverty Now its a fact yet were of two minds about this We delight that so many lives are being improved but were not always thrilled with the sudden new competition John Kerry cynically plays the offshoring card Its cynical because first as a senator Kerry was a free-trader and second how would he stop
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