The Electricity Metaphor for the Web’s Future

Source: Jeff Bezos, TED Talk Published: February 2003

Source: Jeff Bezos, TED Talk
Published: February 2003

The Electricity Metaphor for the Web’s Future

Circulated: March 6, 2020

Folks compared the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s with the gold rush of 1848–1855. This analogy is weak because while gold has a limited supply, innovation is without end.

A better analogy is the Internet and the electric industry. Both are horizontal enabling layers that span across industries. The killer app that got the world ready for wired appliances was the light bulb. Instead of putting electricity into the home, people viewed it as putting lighting into the home. Each room typically had a light sock where you’d unscrew the light bulb and screw in an appliance when you wanted to use it. There was no off button, you’d simply unscrew the appliance when done using it.

“If you really do believe it’s the very, very beginning of the Internet, then you’re incredibly optimistic. I do believe there is more innovation ahead of us than behind us.” — Jeff Bezos

1882: Iron

1902: Fan

1905: Vacuum

1908: Washing Machine

1912: Toaster

Jeff’s 2003 Desk: