If you look at innovations that became part of our everyday life, you’ll see that almost none of them got traction and hit the mass market from day one. There always was something that had to evolve over the years and make the innovation usable for everyone.

Let’s take automobiles, for example. Henry Ford didn’t invent them. The first vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine was built in 1807. Ford, however, made the first affordable car.

Or take personal computers. One of the reasons why the price of Apple II was comparably low is because Apple II was built on a microprocessor that was so affordable for computer makers that could literally trigger the mass production of personal computers. It was called M.O.S-6502. It was created by a small company named M.O.S Technology. M.O.S-6502 was being sold for $25 plus $10 for the documentation. At that time, Motorola which was dominating the market, was selling its microprocessor kit for $300. Obviously Motorola was pursuing big companies like Hewlett Packard and Crysler, but even these big guys thought that the price was too high.

It’s not always about cost and usability. Sometimes, it’s the environment that forces the invention to become widely adopted. Here’s what’s happened to wrist watch.

Although the concept of the wrist watch goes back to the 16th century, until the early 20th century, the major users of the wrist watch were women. Men used pocket watch.

The situation has changed during the World War I. The problem with the pocket watch was that you had to hold it. In a war, you hardly had the time to grab a watch from the pocket, open the case, and check the time. But the timing was crucial because military actions had to be precisely scheduled and synchronized. So after the war, the wrist watch remained on men’s arms.

Can we apply this to DITA? Last Thursday, I was presenting at the Thought Leaders Thursday webinar series hosted by Tom Aldous. We looked at the history of famous technology innovations, learned how they got traction, found patterns, and discussed how we can apply the same patterns to DITA to make it hit the mass market.

The recording of the webinar is now available. Click here to watch it.

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