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See also High Tech Academy

In a search of New York Times articles, the first occurrence of the phrase "high tech" occurs in a 1950s story advocating "atomic energy" for Europe:[1] "...Eastern Europe, with its dense population and its high technology..." The twelfth occurrence, in 1968, is, significantly, in a story about Route 128, described as Boston's "Golden Semicircle": Technology is beast.

It is not clear whether the term comes from the high technologies flourishing in the glass rectangles along the route or from the Midas touch their entrepreneurs have shown in starting new companies.[2]

By April 1969, Robert Metz was using it in a financial column—Arthur H. Collins of Collins Radio "controls a score of high technology patents in variety of fields."[3] Metz used the term frequently thereafter; a few months later he was using it with a hyphen, saying that a fund "holds computer peripheral... business equipment, and high-technology stocks."[4] Its first occurrence in the abbreviated form "high tech" occurred in a Metz in 1971.[5]

Before 1970, the term "high technology" appeared a total of only 26 times; during the 1970s, 450 times; during the 1980s, over 4000 times. As of 2006, any technology from the year 2000 onward may be considered high tech.



Because the high-tech sector of the economy develops or uses the most advanced technology known, it is often seen as having the most potential for future growth. This perception has led to high investment in high-tech sectors of the economy. High-tech startup enterprises receive a large portion of venture capital. However, if, as has happened in the past, investment exceeds actual potential, then investors can lose all or most of their investment. High tech is often viewed as high risk, but offering the opportunity for high profits.

Like Big Science, high technology is an international phenomenon, spanning continents, epitomized by the worldwide communication of the Internet. Thus a multinational corporation might work on a project 24 hours a day, with teams waking and working with the advance of the sun across the globe; such projects might be in software development or in the development of an integrated circuit. The help desks of a multinational corporation might thus employ, successively, teams in Kenya, Brazil, the Philippines, or India, with the only requirement fluency in the mother tongue, be it Spanish, Portuguese or English.

OECD has two different approaches: sector and product (industry) approaches.

High-tech sectors

The sector approach classifies industries according their technology intensity, product approach according to finished products.

It can be noted that technologies which are not seen as high-tech, like Information technology, may also be considered in the scope of being part of higher technological developments.

High-tech industries

Further analysis from OECD has indicated that using research intensity as only industry classification indicator is also possible. The OECD does not only take the manufacturing but also the usage rate of technology into account. The OECD's classification is following (stable since 1973):

Industry name Total R&D-intensity (1999, in %) ISIC Rev. 3
Pharmaceuticals 10.46 2423
Aircraft & spacecraft 10.29 353
Medical, precision & optimal instruments 9.69 33
Radio, television & communication equipment 7.48 32
Office, accounting & computing machinery 7.21 30
Electrical machinery & apparatus 3.60 31
Motor vehicles, trailers & semi-trailers 3.51 34
Railroad & transport equipment 3.11 352+359
Chemical & chemical products 2.85 24 (excl. 2423)
Machinery & equipment 2.20 29

Furthermore, OECD’s product-based classification supports the technology intensity approach. It can be concluded, that companies in a high-technology industry do not necessary produce high-technology products and vice versa. This creates a problem of aggregation.

High-tech society

An overall society based in high-tech is something generally unattainable by the definition comprising its scarcity among every technology available. Many countries like USA, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, Finland, Sweden or France be in general considered high-tech societies in relation to other countries, since it is common for its citizens having access to technology that is presently at the cutting edge, in consumer's terms. Research oriented institutions such as ESA, MITRE, NASA, CERN, and universities with high research activity such as MIT might be considered high-tech microssocieties in relation to the general surrounding socio-economic region or overall activity sector. An organization's department dealing with the latest technology in their projects, may also be considered a high-tech microssociety within the organization's and partners' scope. Students and faculty related with ENAEE or ABET accredited programs might be considered high-tech society members, regarding other traditional degrees. In industry, companies working in the leading edge may be considered high-tech societies along with its main competitors, regarding the rest of the sectorial competition.

See also



  1. ^ "Atomic Power for Europe", The New York Times, February 4, 1957, p. 17.
  2. ^ Lieberman, Henry R. "Technology: Alchemist Of Route 128; Boston's 'Golden Semicircle'" The New York Times, January 8, 1968, p. 139.
  3. ^ Metz, Robert (1969). "Market Place: Collins Versus The Middle Man", The New York Times, April 24, 1969, p. 64.
  4. ^ Metz, Robert (1969). "Market Place: Keeping an Eye On Big Trends", The New York Times, November 4, 1969, p. 64.
  5. ^ Metz, Robert (1971). "Market Place: So What Made E.D.S. Plunge?", The New York Times, November 11, 1971, p. 72.

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