The digital revolution differs from previous technological revolutions in various dimensions, among which its unprecedented speed of penetration is probably most striking. Take the United States as an example, to reach a 25 percent penetration rate for telephones required 35 years, for radios 31 years, for televisions 26 years, for personal computers 16 years, for mobile phones 13 years and for the internet just 7 years. Digital technology’s penetration depends less on the level of economic development than earlier technological revolutions, thanks to radical improvements in affordability. Many developing countries with a GDP per capita of less than $5000 have experienced roughly the same penetration rates as developed countries, as measured by the World Bank’s digital adoption index.
(This chart and the associated texts are mainly from Luohan Academy’s publication Digital Technology and Inclusive Growth. The executive summary can be downloaded here, and the full text will be available on Amazon by late Jan. 2020.)