The 6 Stages of Technology

These were originally presented in a talk by Stu Feldman, given at a USENIX conference in approximately 1988 or so...

A "technology" can be anything: software, a technique, a process, a document, a product...

(I think Stu originally had only 5 stages. Either what I have numbered 0 was missing or 2 and 3 were combined. I think this is more accurate - vlb)
Stage Description


New / Under Development

Usage: Only the author/creator and/or a small number of "edge" leaders. Use may be irregular or ad hoc.

e.g. for software: Still in planning stage. Developer makes changes as desired. Essentially no support. Documentation is very simple or nonexistent.



Usage: More people (e.g. your friends and colleagues). Use is more frequent, perhaps stil irregular. Still considered leading edge.

e.g. for software: "alpha" or "beta" release users make changes and submit them; send feedback and bug reports. Still little support or documentation, but these are improving.

example: Voice Over IP



Usage: Friends of friends; frequent and regular.

Standards are being developed. Books are written.

e.g. for software: First release. Less frequent changes. Minor support; changes are sent out to users; better documentation.

example: Caller ID



General distribution

Books, papers, talks, reference material are all more available. Minor variations cann be found in the marketplace.

Usage: Widespread. Lots of people are using it (people even your friends don't know)

e.g. for software: Real support; good documentation; regular release cycle.

example: Call Waiting




Usage: People do not have to explain to anyone why they are using it.

e.g. for software: Changes propagated quickly; good support, good documentation.

examples: cell phone



Best of Breed.

Usage: People have to explain why they are not using it.

e.g. for software: Backward compatibility, maintenance releases, better documentation, support, new features, user groups...

example: telephone

Reminds me of my "theory" of product stages :-)
stage           criteria for moving to this stage
-----           ---------------------------------
Development     It seemed like a good thing to do.
Alpha           Your manager keeps bugging you about when it will be done.
Beta            Marketing keeps bugging your manager about when it will be done.
Final           Customers keep bugging marketing about when it will be done.
-- eryk vershen