Page’s Law? Try Wirth’s Law. Or Gates’s.

I hesitate to cite Valleywag as a news source, but I did read there that Sergey Brin is crediting fellow Google co-founder Larry Page with “Page’s Law“, the assertion that software gets twice as slow every 18 months, and thus outpaces Moore’s law.

Fortunately for Page, he is already assured of a solid entry in the history books. Because Page’s Law sounds suspiciously like Wirth’s law, pronounced by computer science titan Niklaus Wirth in 1995: “Software is getting slower more rapidly than hardware becomes faster.” In fact, the more precise version cited by Page is known as Gates’s law–though I don’t think Bill Gates want to take credit for it.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

10 replies on “Page’s Law? Try Wirth’s Law. Or Gates’s.”

Good catch. I covered Wirth’s Law extensively in Dreaming in Code. I would think Sergey would know about it — particularly since Google’s own software practice is a pretty good counterexample (Google’s search engine hasn’t slowed down appreciably over the years!).


Indeed, it would have been much more biting to refer to it as Gates’s Law–though perhaps a bit too catty. 🙂

By the way, welcome to The Noisy Channel! I appreciate your engaging me on my home turf re: newspapers charging for content. It’s not everyday I see a co-founder of Salon in these parts!


Daniel; I actually think David’s law pre-dates Wirth’s. Unfortunately I do not know of any citation for it (nor does the Wikipedia article author).

Oh well


He actually coined the term a lot longer before that (I was lectured by him). I’ll try find out


That’s why I’d LOVE to get a NEW computer, running Windows XP. Take new hardware and pair with OLD software and you feel like a king. Most software like SnagIt 9 appear to jump the shark at some point. I reverted to SnagIt 8.


“Google’s search engine hasn’t slowed down appreciably over the years!”

This is totally false. Try using Google over dial-up, it’s unbearably slow. You just don’t notice over broadband.


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