The untold story of planned obsolescence
Documentary by Cosima Dannoritzer
Does the ever-lasting light bulb really exist? How can a tiny electronic chip ‘kill’ a product? Why are millions of computers being shipped around the world to be dumped rather than repaired? And what has all this to do with Planned Obsolescence?
Planned Obsolescence is the deliberate shortening of product life spans to guarantee consumer demand. As an inuential advertising magazine stated in the 1920s: ‘The article that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business’ – and a tragedy for the modern growth society which relies on an ever-accelerating cycle of production, consumption and throwing away.
The story starts in the 1920s when a secret cartel was set up to limit the life span of the incandescent bulb, converting the light bulb into the rst victim of Planned Obsolescence and turning it from a symbol of progress and innovation into a model for designers and entrepreneurs aiming to increase prots and sales at all cost. Ever since then, Planned Obsolescence has been the basis of our economy, aecting the life spans of products as diverse as nylon tights, cars and cutting edge electronics.
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