High tech

High tech is technology that is at the cutting edge—the most advanced technology currently available. The adjective form is hyphenated: high-tech or high-technology. (There is also an architectural style known as high tech.)

There is no specific class of technology that 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.

Origin of the term

In a search of "New York Times" articles, the first occurrence of the phrase "high tech" occurs in a 1957 story advocating "atomic energy" for Europe: ["Atomic Power for Europe", "The New York Times", February 4, 1957, p. 17.] "...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":

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, Robert (1969). "Market Place: Collins Versus The Middle Man", "The New York Times", April 24, 1969, p. 64.] 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." [Metz, Robert (1969). "Market Place: Keeping an Eye On Big Trends", "The New York Times", November 4, 1969, p. 64.] Its first occurrence in the abbreviated form "high tech" occurred in a Metz in 1971. [Metz, Robert (1971). "Market Place: So What Made E.D.S. Plunge?", "The New York Times", November 11, 1971, p. 72.]

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.


In architecture, high-tech design involves the use of the materials associated with high tech industries of the 1980s and 1990s, such as space frames, metal cladding and composite fabrics and materials. High tech buildings often 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 features of post-modernism.

The high tech style emerged in the 1980s and remains popular. In the United Kingdom, two of its main proponents are Richard Rogers and Norman Foster


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.

High-tech sectors

* Aerospace technology
* Biotechnology
* Information technology
* Nanotechnology
* Robotics

OECD also classifies industries. OECD has two different approaches: sector and product approaches. The sector approach classifies industries according their technology intensity, product approach according to finished products. 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):

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.

ee also

* Atari Democrat
* High-tech architecture
* Industrial design
* Intermediate technology
* Knowledge economy
* Product design
* High Touch


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • High Tech — High Tech …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

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  • *high-tech — ● high tech adjectif invariable (abréviation de l anglais high technology, haute technologie) Se dit d un style de décoration intérieure caractérisé par l intégration de matériaux, de meubles ou d accessoires conçus pour un usage professionnel,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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  • high-tech — (also hi tech) ► ADJECTIVE 1) employing, requiring, or involved in high technology. 2) (of architecture and interior design) employing a functional style and industrial materials, such as steel and plastic …   English terms dictionary

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