Falling Back in a Critical Race

Old roadblocks and rivalries brake Europe in the high-technology field

Spawned in the mid-18th century, the first Industrial Revolution was fueled by the steam power and coal of Britain. The second, around 1900, got its push from chemical and electrical developments in Germany. Now there is a third industrial revolution under way, propelled by microchips. This time, however, the driving force is in the U.S. and Japan, and Western Europe is being left far behind.

Today the Continent is flooded with IBM computers, Matsushita video recorders and Boeing jetliners. Here and there, innovative Europeans...

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