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.


My wife is about to get a netbook, and that’s probably what she’ll do. So we’d better hurry up and decide whose law it is! I’ll tentatively accept it as David’s.


“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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