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High tech refers to "high technology," technology that is at the cutting-edge and the most advanced currently available. The adjective form is hyphenated: high-tech. There is also a style of architecture known as High tech.
There is no specific class of technology which is high-tech - the definition shifts over time, so products hyped as high-tech in the 1960s would now be considered, if not exactly low tech, then at least somewhat primitive. This fuzzy definition has led to marketing departments describing nearly all new products as high-tech.
In architecture, high tech design involves the use of the materials associated with high tech industries of the 1980's and 1990's, such as space frames, metal cladding and composite fabrics and materials. High tech buildings generally have extensive glazing to show to the outside world the activity going on inside. Generally their overall appearance is light, typically with a combination of dramatic curves and straight lines. In many ways high tech architecture is a reaction against Brutalist architecture, without the relative frivolity of post-modernism.
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 a global phenomenon, spanning continents, epitomized by the global 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.
Origin of the term Edit
In a search of New York Times articles, the first occurrence of the phrase "high technology" occurs in a 1957 story advocating "atomic power" (nuclear energy) for Europe: "...Western 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:":
- 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.
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." 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." Its first occurrence in the abbreviated form "high tech" occurred in a Metz in 1971.
Before 1970, the term "high technology" appeared a total of only 26 times; during the 1970s, 450 times; during the 1980s, over 4000 times.
High tech sectorsEdit
- "Atomic Power for Europe," The New York Times, February 4, 1957, p. 17
- Lieberman, Henry R. "Technology: Alchemist Of Route 128; Boston's 'Golden Semicircle'" The New York Times, January 8, 1968, p. 139
- Metz, Robert (1969) "Market Place: Collins Versus The Middle Man," The New York Times, April 24, 1969, p. 64 ("High technology")
- Metz, Robert (1969) "Market Place: Keeping an Eye On Big Trends," The New York Times, November 4, 1969, p. 64 ("High-technology")
- Metz, Robert (1971) "Market Place: So What Made E.D.S. Plunge?," The New York Times, November 11, 1971, p. 72 ("High tech")
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