Fastest Global Diffusion in History: The Cell Phone
The human race is crossing a line. There is now one cellphone for every two humans on Earth.
From essentially zero, we've passed a watershed of more than 3.3 billion active cellphones on a planet of some 6.6 billion humans in about 26 years. This is the fastest global diffusion of any technology in human history -- faster even than the polio vaccine (see related chart above from The Economist).
And cellphones are the first telecommunications technology in history to have more users in the developing world -- almost 60% -- than in the West. Cellphone usage in Africa has been growing close to 50% annually -- faster than any other region. More than 30 African nations have more cellphones than land lines.