Computer Count And NASDAQ


I’ve recently had an interesting conversation with Rhizome’s Michael Connor about why the number of computers in Law & Order drops in the early 2000s (because of this project).

While my initial PurplePayday argument was that this slump was the result of ubiquity (us becoming accustomed to computers and internet use), Michael suggested there might be another reason: the bursting of the dot-com bubble.

Curious, I made a chart of the closing price for the NASDAQ for the same years as the show (in light gray) and superimposed it on the computer count on Law & Order (dark gray, with the running-average count as a red line). There is a striking parallel: a slow incline followed by a spike around 1999/2000 that shows up in both. The charts diverge toward the final seasons; while Law & Order did build storylines around the recession of the late 2000s, this didn’t effect the appearance of computers in offices and homes.


A quick Google Ngram chart for close to the same period (1990-2008) for the words computer (in blue) and internet (in red) also shows the same slump in the early 2000s.