In the 1960s, Intel (IW500/18) co-founder Gordon Moore, via his famous Moore's Law, theorized that computing power would exponentially increase, with the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubling every two years, while inversely, cost would decrease. And for the last 50 years, this has held true. To put that in context, Intel's latest 14-nM processor has 3,500 higher performance, 90,000 times more energy efficient, and costs 60,000 times less than the original 4004 microprocessor.
This expansion rate couldn’t last forever, and even at Intel, there's now more of an emphasis on energy consumption than speed. Reports of Moore's Law's death, or tweaks on its current meaning, have trickled in the last few years from around the industry, so it's also no surprise that the top computer companies on the 2018 IndustryWeek U.S. 500 have not had as strong as year as in other industries.
Seven made the top 25, but those* either stayed the same or dropped in ranking from last year.
(* Excluding Dell Technologies (IW500/12), which was not public in 2017).
New tech from any of these companies has the potential to change the world an instant, so comparing year-to-year rankings tells only a small part of the story. The bigger piece is that the top 20 computer/electronics companies on the list this year have increased (sometimes dramatically so) since 2013. And overall, there are 53 companies representing the space on the top 500, just shy of oil & gas's leading 55.
And these 53 businesses generated $906 billion last year, 9% higher than in 2016. That current total is more than double what the top car & car parts makers earned ($464 billion). So progress might not be exponential for this specific year, but the money earned over the past decade has been reinvested into some pretty exciting areas, including artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Once those take off, probably sometime in the early 2020s, we could be seeing an IW 500 comprised primarily of digital companies, some that don't even exist yet.
To see the top computer companies that do exist, what are you waiting for? Start the slideshow.