This image is stolen from a reddit link:

It shows ideas in computer science moving from academic research to industrial research to product to successful product. Speech recognition I find pretty amusing.

Being me, I’m disappointed no programming language concepts made it to the chart, not even objects! I can’t think off the top of my head what the first commercial object-oriented development system was: I suppose in those days there wasn’t a clear divide between selling hardware and selling software.

Anyway this is relevant to me since, when contemplating my future after my Ph.D., I often fantasize about bringing my own research to market. The first major fear I have, of course, is that no one would want to spend much money on a compiler that guarantees resource bounds; I hope I’m wrong there. The second fear, though, is that it would take far longer than I could ever expect to turn a proof-of-concept product into a marketable product. This chart confirms that, historically, there is a gap of about five years at least to turn a research idea into a consumer idea.

The chart also shows the importance of industrial research and development, the blue lines. With some notable exceptions, like Microsoft and IBM, I fear industrial research has been getting squeezed out in the past few years, which is a shame.

We need more blue!