Then and Now: The Surprising Start and Success of Your Favorite Technologies

Mark A. Carlson


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Aspect 2: E-Commerce, Smartphones, and Robots

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated the adoption of technology in company, enabling organizations to optimize their functions and satisfy altering buyer expectations. In Part 1 of this posting series, we reviewed the origin and good results of division retailers, supermarkets, and the retail bar code.

Let’s go on this exploration of the past to explore the achievements of the future. In Aspect 2, we evaluate e-commerce, smartphones, and robots. Now ubiquitous in our lives, how did they get their start and what can we be expecting in the upcoming?

Initially Item Acquired On the net

cyber monday 3870916 1920Occasionally it appears to be really hard to imagine there was a time ahead of on-line purchasing. Nowadays, we can purchase basically just about anything, from textbooks and housewares to groceries and cleaning materials, to be sent right to our door in just a number of days. That comfort has unquestionably paid out off, but how precisely did we get here.

As with other emerging systems, one particular can discussion the origin of e-commerce. Candidates include things like a pizza, weed, a CD, or pc sections.

The very first actual on the web transaction that associated information encryption software program to ship a credit score card securely took place in August 11, 1994 on a web site identified as NetMarket. On that now memorable day, Dan Kohn marketed a CD of Sting’s ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’ to a mate for $12.48 in addition shipping and delivery.

Once the internet could be utilized as a safe purchasing channel, on the web shopping’s good results was inevitable. In 1995, and eBay introduced their on the web shopping platforms, quickly followed by Rakuten in Japan and Alibaba in China.

A ten years back, e-commerce made up only 8% of overall retail sales in the United States. The pandemic, as with most electronic technologies, grew to become a key growth accelerator for e-commerce. According to McKinsey, COVID-19 compressed 10 several years of e-commerce adoption into 3 months.

At peak in 2020, globally e-commerce grew just about 26%.


E-commerce will continue to grow double digit crossing $6 trillion throughout the world by 2023. China has by much the most significant retail ecommerce current market, representing 52.1% of whole worldwide product sales. United states of america is next but at only at 19%.

As of 2021, over 2 billion persons throughout the world shopped online — that’s in excess of 1 in 4 men and women. ‘Field of Gold’, which was a single of the tracks on that Sting CD that commenced it all, perfectly summarizes the journey’s riches that ecommerce has accumulated since its unforgettable start off.

Initially Smartphone

communication 6605648 1920The smartphone provides the world of electronic information suitable to our fingertips, and it is tricky to think about residing with out a person. Currently, 85% of older people in the United States possess a smartphone. But the path to the smartphone began with a two-pound handheld cell phone identified as “the Brick.” In 1984, Motorola unveiled the first handheld transportable cellular phone, the DynaTAC 8000X, which cost virtually $4,000 and experienced a battery lifetime of just 30 minutes.

A little something ought to have been in the water in August 1994, as like e-commerce, that was the astonishing start for the smartphone. On August 16 of that yr, IBM produced the Simon Particular Communicator to the market. Even though the term “smartphone” did not appear into existence till a yr afterwards, Simon had several of the capabilities of a correct smartphone, these kinds of as built-in purposes like an deal with reserve, calendar, calculator, and notepad. It even had a touchscreen, though it demanded a stylus.

The rate of that first Simon smartphone is not much too different rate from the price tag of an Apple iphone currently. IBM priced Simon at $899 with a assistance agreement ($1,435 in today’s dollars. The unique Simon was on the current market for 6 months and only 50,000 models ended up bought.

Rapid forward to 2007 when the Apple Iphone emerged and the globe was for good changed. In numerous of my worldwide displays and posts, I name the smartphone as the third megatrend that transformed retail.

Today, the total globe has been trained to stare at that smartphone display.


In 2021, just the prime 5 greatest smartphone markets crossed more than 2 billion models in total utilization.

Initial Robotic

david 7017729 1920“The word “robot” was coined in 1920 by the Czech playwright Karel Capek. In “R.U.R.” (“Rossum’s Common Robots”) Capek imagined synthetic, entirely purposeful servants.”

The first industrial robot was the Unimate, formulated in the 1950s by Joseph Engelberger and George Devol. The primary reason of these early prototypes was to complete tasks that would damage individuals.

In 1959, a Unimate prototype was put in on a Typical Motors assembly line to go warm parts of steel. The introduction of robots in the production procedure led Common Motors to turn into the most automated automotive plant in the environment. Robots could build 110 cars for each hour, a lot more than twice as rapidly as any other automotive plant at the time.

The global sector for industrial robots was $43.8 billion USD in 2021. The current market is predicted to grow at a compound-once-a-year-expansion rate (CAGR) of all over 10%, reaching just about $71 billion USD by 2028.

In the retail sector, the robots are now also accelerating their invasion. 1 in 4 retailers are now operating on a robotic challenge and 47% report that they will be functioning on an instore robotic project in the subsequent 18 months.


The pandemic elevated the profile of robotic automation in warehouses and merchants. Sixty-3 of shops say the pandemic elevated robotics’ importance for use in warehouses and 42% see increased value in retailers coming.  Robots and other autonomous systems are feeding the drive to contactless commerce that has been underway for some time.

E-commerce and smartphones have significantly adjusted the worlds. Extra robots are coming to do the similar.


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