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Sidestep and Twist by James Gardner

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PRODUCTS THAT IMPROVE WITH CONSUMPTION

Let us examine the case of telephony for a moment. Here was a device that took some 50 years to get from the moment of its first practical demonstration to coverage of just under 10% of households in the United States. The reason? At the beginning, the telephone was a practically useless instrument, since so few people used it. The actual device was invented in the 1870s, and was a sidestep from the telegraph.

Telephony seems a natural sidestep – after all, a telegraph is really a way of sending instantaneous written communication, so you’d expect it would be obvious that you’d use the same kind of technology to send spoken words as well. Initially, though, the consuming public was sceptical. Written communication ...

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