Three “general purpose technologies”—rare innovations that transform not only one industry but the entire economy—were developed within a few months of each other in 1879. Thomas Edison invented the first properly working light bulb, Karl Benz built the first reliable internal combustion engine and, two decades before Marconi, David Edward Hughes sent a wireless signal. … The second industrial revolution was “multidimensional.” The internal combustion engine meant cars and thus motorways, which led to wholesale distribution networks. Electricity meant light, air-conditioned offices and the service economy. US productivity grew by an average of 2.36 per cent a year from 1891 to 1972.
In contrast, Gordon says, the computer revolution of the past 40 years has been “one-dimensional,””