or Built-in Obsolescence
By Hiram Crespo
Candles are magical, but light bulbs have a magic that candles don’t have. One never sees a cartoon with a candle symbolizing a person having a brilliant idea. Light bulbs represent human genius.
But recently, as I watched the documentary Planned Obsolescence, aka The Light bulb Conspiracy, I learned about a light bulb that has been emitting light for over a century in California, and how it was designed by Adolphe Chailet prior to the year in the early 20th Century when the light bulb cartel (yes, you happen to live on a planet that has a light bulb cartel) gathered to decide that from then on, light bulbs would have a short life of several years and that people would be forced to buy light bulbs again in spite of the fact that the technology existed to create light bulbs that would function for a century.
There are no added benefits to new time-bomb light bulbs. No innovation, no new technology that we should be grateful for. The only reason for this shift was profit.
The technology to build the light bulb that has been lit in a Livermore, California, fire station for over a century –whose 100th birthday was celebrated as an act of generating awareness, and more recently the 110th birthday– was either destroyed or has been kept secret all this time. Those who stand to profit from sales of light bulbs make sure that no one is allowed to build light bulbs of their original quality anymore. As I understand it, General Motors headed this brilliant initiative to ban the better quality of the original.
The computer industry also plans and builds-in the obsolescence of its gadgets. Oftentimes, the next great thing has already been planned years in advance, so that by the time we install Gadget 3.0, they already know what Gadget 5.0 will look like. But there are fortunes to be made with each upgrade.
Obsolescence is not only functional, it can also be systemic. A light bulb may explode like a time bomb … or a computer may simply no longer be compatible with many of the other gadgets that we use. In all cases, the makers of these goods benefit handsomely from obsolescence.