The Invention of Battlezone – IEEE Spectrum


King Camp Gillette lowered the value of the razors, and the demand for razor blades elevated. The historical past of IT comprises quite a few examples of this phenomenon, too.

I contend, furthermore, that there are nonetheless different regularities within the subject of computing that may be formulated in a trend much like that of Moore’s and Metcalfe’s relationships. I wish to suggest 4 such legal guidelines.

Regulation 1. Yuletide’s Regulation of Complementarity

I named this legislation after George Udny Yuletide (1912), who was the statistician who proposed the seminal equation for explaining the connection between two attributes. I formulate this legislation as follows:

If two attributes or merchandise are enhances, the worth/demand of one of many enhances will likely be inversely associated to the value of the opposite complement.

In different phrases, if the value of 1 complement is lowered, the demand for the opposite will enhance. There are a couple of historic examples of this legislation. One of many well-known ones is the advertising and marketing of razor blades. The legendary King Camp Gillette gained market domination by making use of this rule. He lowered the value of the razors, and the demand for razor blades elevated. The historical past of IT comprises quite a few examples of this phenomenon, too.

The case of Atari 2600 is one notable instance. Atari video video games consisted of the console system {hardware} and the read-only reminiscence cartridges that contained a recreation’s software program. When the product was launched, Atari Inc. marketed three merchandise, specifically the Atari Video Pc System (VCS) {hardware} and the 2 video games that it had created, the arcade shooter recreation Jet Fighter and Tank, a heavy-artillery fight title involving, not surprisingly, tanks.

Crucially, Atari engineers determined that they’d use a microchip for the VCS as an alternative of a customized chip. In addition they made positive that any programmer hoping to create a brand new recreation for the VCS would have the ability to entry and use all of the interior workings of the system’s {hardware}. And that was precisely what occurred. In different phrases, the designers lowered the boundaries and the fee vital for different gamers to develop VCS recreation cartridges. Greater than 200 such video games have since been developed for the VCS—serving to to spawn the sprawling US $170 billion world online game trade as we speak.

An identical legislation of complementarity exists with pc printers. The extra reasonably priced the value of a printer is stored, the upper the demand for that printer’s ink cartridges. Managing complementary parts properly was additionally essential to Apple’s profitable the MP3 participant wars of the early 2000s, with its now-iconic iPod.

From a strategic viewpoint, know-how companies in the end must know which complementary component of their product to promote at a low worth—and which enhance to promote at a better worth. And, because the economist Bharat Anand factors out in his celebrated 2016 guide The Content material Lure, proprietary enhances are typically extra worthwhile than nonproprietary ones.

Regulation 2. Hoff’s Regulation of Scalability

This legislation is called after Marcian Edward (Ted) Hoff Jr.—the engineer who satisfied the CEO of Intel to use the legislation of scalability to the design and improvement of processors. Definitely, the phenomenon of scalability was well-known within the vehicle trade earlier than it made a big affect on the computing trade. Henry Ford was a notable instance of the appliance of this scalability legislation. Henry Ford’s firm was maybe the primary firm to use this legislation on a grand scale. Ford produced the Mannequin T, which was the primary mass-produced automotive. On the core of Henry Ford’s achievement was the design of an vehicle that was made for mass manufacturing. Ford’s engineers broke down the meeting means of the Mannequin T into 84 discrete steps. The corporate standardized all of the duties and assigned every employee to do only one job, thus standardizing the work every employee carried out as properly. Ford additional constructed machines that might stamp out components mechanically. Along with Ford’s revolutionary improvement of the primary shifting meeting line, this manufacturing system reduce the time to construct a automotive from 12 hours to about 1.5 hours. The Mannequin T might be the paradigmatic instance of how standardization allows designing processes for scalability.

Till the early Sixties, every IBM system had its personal distinct working system, processor, peripherals, and software software program. After the acquisition of a brand new IBM pc, clients needed to rewrite all their present code.

Intel additionally mastered the legislation of scalability early in its historical past. In 1969, Busicom, a Japanese firm, approached Intel about constructing customized chips to be used in its programmable computer systems. Gordon Moore was not excited by a customized chip as a result of he knew that it could not be scalable. It was the hunt to create a scalable product that led Intel’s Ted Hoff to partition the chip right into a general-purpose logic processor chip and a separate read-only reminiscence (ROM) chip that saved an software program. As Albert Yu exhibits in his historical past of Intel, Creating the Digital Future, the fledgling semiconductor firm’s general-purpose processor, the 4004, was scalable and just about bequeathed the world the {hardware} structure of the fashionable pc. And it was Hoff who redesigned the 4004 to scale. Hoff’s Regulation of Scalability may thus be described as follows:

The potential for scalability of a know-how product is inversely proportional to its diploma of customization and straight proportional to its diploma of standardization.

In sum, the legislation predicts {that a} know-how element or course of that has a excessive diploma of customization and/or a decrease diploma of standardization will likely be a poor candidate for scaling.

Regulation 3. Evans’s Regulation of Modularity

This legislation derives its title from Bob Overton Evans. He was the engineer who within the early Sixties persuaded IBM’s chairman, Thomas J. Watson Jr., to discontinue IBM’s know-how design strategy, which had produced a hodgepodge of incompatible computer systems. Evans advocated that IBM ought to as an alternative embark on the event of a household of modular computer systems that may share peripheries, directions, and customary interfaces. IBM’s first product household underneath this new design rubric was referred to as System/360.

Previous to this period, IBM and different mainframe pc producers produced techniques that had been distinctive. Every system had its personal distinct working system, processor, peripherals, and software software program. After the acquisition of a brand new IBM pc, clients needed to rewrite all their present code. Evans satisfied CEO Watson {that a} line of computer systems needs to be designed to share most of the identical directions and interfaces.

If a paper is copied 4 instances, one can now share the useful resource with 5 folks. However digitize the doc and the value-creation alternatives are multiplicative quite than additive.

This new strategy of modular design meant that IBM’s engineers developed a typical structure (the specification of which capabilities and modules will likely be a part of the system), widespread interfaces (an outline of how the modules will work together, match collectively, join, and talk), and customary requirements (a definition of shared guidelines and strategies that may be used to attain widespread capabilities and duties). This daring transfer on Massive Blue’s half created a brand new household of computer systems that revolutionized the pc trade. Prospects may now shield their investments as a result of the directions, software program, and peripheries had been reusable and appropriate inside every pc household.

Evans’s Regulation might be formulated as follows:

The inflexibilities, incompatibilities, and rigidities of complicated and/or monolithically structured applied sciences might be simplified by the modularization of the know-how buildings (and processes).

This legislation predicts that the appliance of modularization will scale back incompatibilities and complexities.

One additional instance of Evans’s Regulation may be seen within the software program improvement trade, because it has shifted from the “waterfall” to the agile software program improvement methodology. The previous is a linear and sequential mannequin stipulating that every venture section can start solely the earlier section has ended. (The title comes from the truth that water flows in just one course down a waterfall.) Against this, the agile improvement strategy applies the legislation of modularization to software program design and the software program improvement course of. Agile software program developments are typically extra versatile, extra responsive, and sooner.

In different phrases, modularization of software program tasks and the event course of makes such endeavors extra environment friendly. As outlined in a useful 2016 Harvard Enterprise Overview article, the preconditions for an agile methodology are as follows: The issue to be solved is complicated; the options are initially unknown, with product necessities evolving; the work may be modularized; and shut collaboration with finish customers is possible.

Regulation 4. The Regulation of Digitiplication

The idea of digitiplication is derived from two ideas: digitalization and multiplication. The legislation stems from my very own research and observations of what occurs when a useful resource is digitized or a course of is digitalized.

The legislation of digitiplication stipulates that at any time when a useful resource or course of is digitalized, its potential worth grows in a multiplicative method.

For instance, if a paper is copied 4 instances, one can now share the useful resource with 5 folks. However digitize the doc and the value-creation alternatives are multiplicative quite than additive.

Think about the instance of a retail retailer. The shop’s gross sales reps, tasked with promoting bodily merchandise to particular person folks, are capable of service just one buyer at a time. Nevertheless, if the identical retail surroundings is positioned on-line, many purchasers can view the shop’s services. Digital textual content may also simply be reworked into an audio format, offering a distinct sort of worth to clients. Search performance throughout the retailer’s stock in fact provides one other layer of worth to the shopper. The shop’s managers may also monitor what number of clients are viewing the shop’s web site’s pages and for a way lengthy. All of those enhancements to the shopper’s (and retailer’s) expertise present totally different sorts of worth. As may be seen by these examples, the digitalization of a useful resource, asset, or course of creates multiplicative quite than additive worth.

As an additional instance, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos first started digitizing information about books as a strategy to facilitate extra and better guide gross sales on-line. Bezos rapidly reworked Amazon right into a digitiplication engine by changing into a data-centric e-commerce firm. The corporate now advantages from the multiplicative results of digitalized processes and digitized info. Amazon’s search, choice, and buy capabilities additionally enable the corporate to file and produce information that may be leveraged to foretell what the shopper needs to purchase—and thus choose which merchandise it ought to present to clients. The digitization of buyer suggestions, vendor scores, and vendor suggestions creates its personal dimension of multiplicative worth.


These 4 legal guidelines may be helpful for engineers and designers to pose questions as they start to develop a product. For instance: Do buyer necessities lend themselves to a product design that might be scaled (or mass-produced)? May the purposeful necessities they’re working with be happy by the event of a modular product design? Might Yuletide’s Regulation of Complementarity present cues towards mass manufacturing or modular design options? Might product enhances be developed in-house or outsourced? Software program engineers may additionally be led towards productive questions on how information might be digitized, or how particular processes might be digitalized to leverage the legislation of digitiplication.

The fields of IT and electrical engineering and pc science (EECS) have change into vital disciplines of the digital age. To go alongside probably the most succinct and related formulations of collected information to this point to the following technology, it is incumbent on lecturers and thought leaders in these important technical fields to translate classes discovered into extra formalized units of theorems and legal guidelines. Such formulations would, I hope, allow present and future generations of IT and EECS professionals to develop probably the most helpful, related, impactful, and certainly generally even disruptive applied sciences. I hope that the proposed 4 legal guidelines on this article may assist to set off a bigger dialogue concerning the want for and relevance of recent legal guidelines for our disciplines.

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