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The Progress of Computing

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Abstract

The present study analyzes computer performance over the last century and a half. Three results stand out. First, there has been a phenomenal increase in computer power over the twentieth century. Performance in constant dollars or in terms of labor units has improved since 1900 by a factor in the order of 1 trillion to 5 trillion, which represent compound growth rates of over 30 percent per year for a century. Second, there were relatively small improvements in efficiency (perhaps a factor of ten) in the century before World War II. Around World War II, however, there was a substantial acceleration in productivity, and the growth in computer power from 1940 to 2001 has averaged 55 percent per year. Third, this study develops estimates of the growth in computer power relying on performance rather than on input-based measures typically used by official statistical agencies. The price declines using performance-based measures are markedly higher than those reported in the official statistics.

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File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d13a/d1324.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1324.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1324

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Postal: Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA
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Web page: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/
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Postal: Cowles Foundation, Yale University, Box 208281, New Haven, CT 06520-8281 USA

Related research

Keywords: Productivity; hedonic pricing; history of computing;

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Cited by:
  1. Silverberg, Gerald & Verspagen, Bart, 2005. "A percolation model of innovation in complex technology spaces," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 225-244, January.
  2. David Autor & Frank Levy & Richard Murnane, 2003. "The skill content of recent technological change: an empirical exploration," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  3. Morrison, Alan & Wilhelm Jr, William J, 2005. "The Demise of Investment Banking Partnerships: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 4904, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Bart van Ark & Robert Inklaar & Robert H. McGuckin, 2003. "ICT and Productivity in Europe and the United States: Where Do the Differences Come From?," Economics Program Working Papers 03-05, The Conference Board, Economics Program.
  5. Michaels, Guy, 2007. "The Division of Labour, Coordination, and the Demand for Information Processing," CEPR Discussion Papers 6358, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Pillai, Unni, 2011. "A model of technological progress in the microprocessor industry," MPRA Paper 31881, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Doraszelski, Ulrich, 2004. "Innovations, improvements, and the optimal adoption of new technologies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1461-1480, April.

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