Bell's law for the birth and death of computer classes

C. Gordon Bell
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Read: 25 July 2020

Communications of the ACM 51(1)
Association for Computing Machinery
New York, NY, USA
Pages 86-94
January 2008

This paper argues that “A new computer class forms and approximately doubles each decade, establishing a new industry.” and names this “Bell’s Law”. This is a consequence of Moore’s Law decreasing the price of computer hardware and “intense, competitive entrepreneurial action.”

This is illustrated by the history of mainframes in the early ’50s, minicomputers in the late ’50s, supercomputers in the ’60s, home computers (initially based on 8-bit microprocessors) in the later ’70s, …