While the economy in many parts of the world is in shambles, the U.S. economy keeps humming along. Americans are earning more money than ever before. Unemployment is near an all-time low. And, amazingly, inflation is virtually nonexistent.
Why is the American economy so strong? Economists, not generally known for brevity, answer with a single word: productivity. Since 1990, productivity increases in the United States have averaged 2.1 percent each year.
Besides our fabled work ethic, what is it that makes American workers so productive? Computers. American workers know how to use computer technology to work better and smarter. And you can thank the space program for those computers.
During the 1950s, computers were the size of a supermarket. To travel into space, however, we needed computers that could fit into a phone booth. Companies like Fairchild and Intel experimented with ways to reduce the size of computers. The result was the microprocessor.
Every one of the tiny computer chips found in personal computers, network servers, airplanes, manufacturing equipment, cars, toaster ovens, washing machines, toys, alarm clocks, and thousands of other products can trace its heritage back to those integrated circuits first developed for the space program.