The Light Bulb Conspiracy

Synopsis: Once upon a time..... products were made to last. Then, at the beginning of the 1920s, a group of businessmen were struck by the following insight: 'A product that refuses to wear out is a tragedy of business' (1928). Thus Planned Obsolescence was born. Shortly after, the first worldwide cartel was set up expressly to reduce the life span of the incandescent light bulb, a symbol for innovation and bright new ideas, and the first official victim of Planned Obsolescence. During the 1950s, with the birth of the consumer society, the concept took on a whole new meaning, as explained by flamboyant designer Brooks Stevens: 'Planned Obsolescence, the desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary...'. The growth society flourished, everybody had everything, the waste was piling up (preferably far away in illegal dumps in the Third World) - until consumers started rebelling... Can the modern growth society survive without Planned Obsolescence? Did th
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Cosima Dannoritzer
  2 wins & 3 nominations.
75 min

This is Marcos from Barcelona. But he can be anyone, anywhere.

What is about to happen to him occurs daily in offices and homes all over the world

A part inside the printer has failed, and the manufacturer sends Marcos to Technical Support

A technician can make a diagnosis but it costs 15 euros plus VAT.

It has become difficult to find parts for this.

It's not worth repairing.

Repair will cost 110-120 euros.

Printers cost as low as 39 euros.

I would advise you buy a new printer.

It's best to buy a new one.

It's no coincidence that all three shopkeepers suggest buying a new printer

If he agrees, Marcos will become yet another victim of planned obsolescence

The secret mechanism at the heart of our consumer society

Our role in life seems to be just to consume things with credit, to borrow money to buy things we don't need

We live in a society dominated by a growth economy

whose logic is not creating because we need things, but just for the sake of it

If the consumer does not purchase, the economy is not going to grow

Planned obsolescence -- the desire on the part of the consumer

to own something a little newer, a little sooner than is necessary

This film will reveal how planned obsolescence

has defined our lives ever since the 1920s

when manufacturers started shortening the lives of products

to increase consumers' demands

Dakle, ideja je bila: "Ograni?imo onda ?ivotni vijek na tisu?u sati. "

We will find out how designers and engineers were made to adopt new values and objectives

back to the drawing board and come back with something that was more fragile

they time those things, they time them, so when you finally pay them, they're used up

A new generation of consumers have started challenging manufacturers

Is it possible to design an economy without planned obsolescence?

-- without its impact on the environment?

Posterity will never forgive us. Posterity will find out about throw away lifestyles of people in the advanced countries.


Neispri?ana pri?a o planiranom zastarijevanju/b

Welcome to Livermore, California, home of the longest burning light bulb in the world.

My name is Lynn Owens and I am a chairman of the light bulb committee

It was in 1972 when we discovered that the light bulb that was hanging at the fire station was a significant light bulb

The light bulb at the Livermore fire station has been burning continuosly since 1901

Ironicly, the bulb has already overlasted two webcams.

In 2001, when the bulb was 100 years old, the people of LIvermore threw a big birthday party -

American style.

I think we were hoping if we could get 200 people, we will be happy and we've ended up with 900 showing up

You think that anybody would sing "Happy Birthday" to a light bulb,

well, we didn't think they would, but they did

The origin of the bulb was that was it was produced in a town called Shelby in Ohio

back around 1895.

and put together by some very interesting ladies (that I have some pictures of)

and some gentlemen that have invested in the company

The filament was invented by Adolphe Chaillet,

He invented his filament to last.

Why does his filament last? I don't know. It's a secret that he made and it died with him.

Chaillet's formula for a long-lasting filament is not the only mistery in the history of the light bulb.

A much bigger secret is how the humble lightbulb became the first victim of planned obsolescence.

Christmas Eve 1924 was a special day.

In a backroom at Geneve suit wearing men met to create a secret plan.

They established the first worldwide cartel.

Their goal was to control the production of lightbulbs

and to divide the world market between them.

The cartel was called Phoebus.

Phoebus included the main lightbulb manufacturers of Europe and the USA

and even faraway colonies in Asia and Africa.

They would change the patents, control the production -

- and above all control consumption.

It is better for the companies that bulbs must be changed more often.

Lasting lights are an economic disadvantage.

Initialy, manufacturers strived for a long-life spend for their bulbs.

On October twenty-first 1871, numerous experiments resulted -

- in the production of a small unit lamp of comparatively enormous resistance.

The filament being under conditions of great stability after this result...

Thomas Edisons first commercial bulb unfilled in 1881 lasted 1500 hours.

By 1924 when the Pheobus cartel was founded, manufacturers proudly advertised lifespans of up to 2500 hours. And stressed longevity of their bulbs

The members of Phoebus thought:

"Let's limit the lifespan of a light bulb to 1000 hours."

In 1925 they appointed a group called "The 1000 Hour Life Committee", -

- that would technically reduce the time an incandescent lamp could burn.

More than 80 years later Helmut Hoge, a historian from Berlin

uncovers proof that the committee's activity hidden in the internal documents of the founding members of the cartel

such as Philips in Holland

Osram in Germany

Compagnie in France.

Here we have a cartel document:

"The average life of lamps for General Lighting Service", -

"must not br guatanteed, published of offered for another value", -

"than 1000 hours."

Under pressure from the cartel

member companies conducted experiments to create more fragile bulb

that would conform with the new 1000 hour rule

Bulb production was monitor rigorously to make sure cartel members complied.

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