Regarding the graph of technological adoption I FEB 13 2008
Regarding the graph of technological adoption I linked to the other day, I wrote the graph's creator** a little note, wondering if he'd done a version comparing the adoption rates directly (like this home run leaders chart). He hadn't, but he whipped one up quick and sent it to me...which saved me a lot of time in Photoshop.
I can't post it (the Times has legal dibs on it), but according to the graph (which Nicholas admits is more "guesstimate-y" than the one that ran in the Times), the five technologies that made it into 80% of US households the quickest were (with the rough year of initial availability in parentheses):
1. radio (1922)
2. microwave oven (1972)
3. VCR (1979)
4. color TV (1960)
5. cellphone (1983)
The internet has not yet reached the 80% mark and it may move into the top 5 when it does. And the way the cellphone trend is going, it might be the first to 90%. Anyway, it's interesting that the common belief is that technology is being adopted faster and faster by Americans these days but that radio was adopted faster than anything else on the chart.
** One Nicholas Felton, who you may recall from his lovely personal annual reports.