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Once upon a time..... products were made to last. Then, at the beginning of the 1920s, a group of businessmen were struck by the following insight: 'A product that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business' (1928). Thus Planned Obsolescence was born. Shortly after, the first worldwide cartel was set up expressly to reduce the life span of the incandescent light bulb, a symbol for innovation and bright new ideas, and the first official victim of Planned Obsolescence. During the 1950s, with the birth of the consumer society, the concept took on a whole new meaning, as explained by flamboyant designer Brooks Stevens: 'Planned Obsolescence, the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary...'. The growth society flourished, everybody had everything, the waste was piling up (preferably far away in illegal dumps in the Third World) - until consumers started rebelling... Can the modern growth society survive without Planned Obsolescence? Did ... Written by
Interesting - but Short Lifespan products may have advantages too
This film criticises the way manufacturers deliberately make short lasting products that continually have to be re-bought, increasing their profit.
A main focus is on how light bulbs were deliberately limited to 1000 hr lifespans in the Phoebus cartel arrangement between GE, Philips, Osram/Sylvania and others. A favorable comparison is made with long lasting Socialist Narva bulbs, during the cold war era.
This is a little too facile, kicking in open doors: The easy conclusion is that "Hey it's good to have Minimum lifespan standards"
Not true! Brightness and lifespan tend to be trade-offs. Ironically, USA minimum 1000 hr standard - from the Phoebus Cartel in the film - therefore still denies the use of short lasting bright bulbs. It is not Socialist Government standards that makes good life bulbs. Nor is it Capitalist Light Bulb Manufacturer cartels. It is Competition on the market - by helping new manufacturers and inventors (like mentioned Billinger, behind a long lasting bulb) launch their products, for people to choose.
All light bulb types have advantages, and energy saving and lifespan mandates compromise other advantages that light bulbs - or indeed other products mentioned in the film - may have.
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