This is why we can't have nice things

Mar 26, 2021
4 782 195 Views

This video is about stuff: light bulbs, printers, phones and why they aren't better. Go to and use code VERITASIUM to get a 2-year plan plus 1 additional month with a huge discount. It’s risk free with Nord’s 30 day money-back guarantee!
The Man in the White Suit -
London, B. (1932). Ending the depression through planned obsolescence. -
Slade, G. (2009). Made to break: Technology and obsolescence in America. Harvard University Press -
Krajewski, M. (2014). The great lightbulb conspiracy. IEEE spectrum, 51(10), 56-61. -
Planet Money, The Phoebus Cartel -
The Light Bulb Conspiracy -
Special thanks to Patreon supporters: Mac Malkawi, Oleksii Leonov, Michael Schneider, Jim Osmun, Tyson McDowell, Ludovic Robillard, jim buckmaster, fanime96, Juan Benet, Ruslan Khroma, Robert Blum, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Vincent, Lyvann Ferrusca, Alfred Wallace, Arjun Chakroborty, Joar Wandborg, Clayton Greenwell, Pindex, Michael Krugman, Cy 'kkm' K'Nelson, Sam Lutfi, Ron Neal
Written by Derek Muller and Petr Lebedev
Animation by Ivan Tello
Filmed by Derek Muller and Raquel Nuno
Edited by Derek Muller
Video supplied by Getty Images
Music by Jonny Hyman and from"Aquatic Planet", "Rhythm of Dreams", "Tread Lightly", "Unexpected Visitors", "Curved Mirrors" "Drunken Lullaby" "Fluorescent Lights"
Thumbnail by Raquel Nuno and Karri Denise

  • Dude doesn’t understand fashion...

    Peter SuwaraPeter Suwara2 minutes ago
  • Nope. I was forced to switch to LED bulbs some years ago and turns out, I had to change the MORE often than when I was using filament ones.

    Lin LimLin Lim2 minutes ago
  • now i want to make a lightbulb company and try to make the longest lasting lightbulbs because that seems like the best idea for cucking big companies and helping people

    HotBowlHotBowl28 minutes ago
  • Lightbulbs latest A LOT longer if you never turn them off. But you do turn them off then on then.....

    Nelsonomics RunsNelsonomics Runs28 minutes ago
  • Furniture used to be all wood and would last a lifetime. It would even be past on to the children. Nowadays, people need a "makeover" every 5 years. It's marketing and the media driven these things. People need to be less empty-minded and shallow but they are kept dumb on purpose. Divide et empera.

    Ikea LampIkea Lamp39 minutes ago
  • Light bulbs? What about the medical profession and the drug industry?

    Yourdeadmeat69Yourdeadmeat6947 minutes ago
  • Should more be like why we can't have nice things for ever

    Anand PavithranAnand Pavithran54 minutes ago
  • On the one hand companies have to recoup the costs of research and development, and some would say they have the responsibility to provide jobs to keep the economy going, and not to mention the responsibility they have to keep investors happy. But on the other hand it seems like such a damn waste to use resources in anything less than the most efficient way possible. What about the responsibility they owe to consumers? Not to mention the fact that we all collectively share the rather limited resources on Earth, and should all have a collective say in how they are used

  • This is why we have a problem with old tires .... I remember in the 70s the front tire on a motorcycle would usually crack and split from age before the thread wore out. Now they last only a slightly longer than the back tire , which used to last about 20,000 - 25,000 miles or more but now only last 6000 to 10000 . Same with cars except there is a long range tire option if you want to spend crazy money for them . Meanwhile we have billions of tires polluting the planet and spreading diseases from all the mosquitos they breed ....

    thefreese1thefreese1Hour ago
  • I have never bought an LED lightbulb that lasted longer than a year...

    AldrnariAldrnariHour ago
  • Great video! Thanks.

    jinacisvetjinacisvetHour ago
  • Planned obsolescence increases carbon emissions. Right to repair reduces landfill and reduces carbon emissions manufacturing replacements, actually this whole Great Reset, Green new deal, replacing ICE vehicles with EV's and eventually hydrogen cars is all planned ecological obsolescence.

    Neville TaylorNeville TaylorHour ago
  • mRNA Vaccines, planned obsolescence for humanity?

    Neville TaylorNeville TaylorHour ago
  • So why does Microsoft pop into my head while I'm listening to this?

    Neville TaylorNeville TaylorHour ago
  • If 1 moth passes after purchase of Northvpn, the customer service doesn't care if problem is solved or not. Since purchase cannot be returned , they do not mind. Obsolescence?

    Gürhan PekuzGürhan PekuzHour ago
  • See we actually have knowledge of so many other technologies and better options but corporate greed overrules those as viable options. We need to try and insist on these as consumers. But what other options do we have until we can obtain those options? It's a vicious circle. It's all messed up!

    Grow with NatureGrow with NatureHour ago
  • They actually had a cartel for light bulbs. I wonder how many beheadings they did

    Freidheim of PrussiaFreidheim of PrussiaHour ago
  • I've had to replace a LOT of LED bulbs :(

    Doug JohnsonDoug JohnsonHour ago
  • Got some drugs here for sell and you will come back for more.

    william louiewilliam louie2 hours ago
  • How naive are you . The reason it was 5 yeats from when they mastered the blue spectrum to the ti.e they hit the market is because they had to figure put a way to get them to fail yes they last longer than other types but only a tenth of what they could !!!!

    Mike VaughnMike Vaughn2 hours ago
  • Louis, how did I know you would be I am so thankful for you brother, and people like Veritasium here...bringing this issue out into the open. Keep up the good works guys! I look forward to seeing your content...

    Kai-MadeKai-Made2 hours ago
    • something is strange with youtube, can't comment on posts from certain people?! Anyone else!?

      Kai-MadeKai-Made2 hours ago
    • wow

      Kai-MadeKai-Made2 hours ago
  • Good work

    Northern WingNorthern Wing2 hours ago
  • My sister worked at ge industrial lighting and your friends story is absolutely true ge had a bulb that wouldn't burn out in the late 70's.

    Mike VaughnMike Vaughn2 hours ago
  • Capitalism, Ho!

    Anudeep RaviAnudeep Ravi3 hours ago
  • I have a light bulb in my bathroom that has worked since about 1990. It is incandescent, so they cannot be bought anymore. So many lights have popped in my house, - all sorts of low energy bulbs but that one keeps going. I don't keep it on as long as other bulbs - especially in winter, but it gets switched on as often. Maybe that lightbulb will outlive me. Made in the UK though.

    Sailfire1Sailfire13 hours ago
  • So many companies do this. 99.9% of the people on here follow this agenda. Reason why my bank account stays full. But yet at the same time it ticks me off companies doing this.

    JohnnyGificationJohnnyGification3 hours ago
  • Nice one: "LED as, essentially, an everlasting lightbulb" . Where is this guy buying from? Mine barely make it up to a year.

    monoolho com mmonoolho com m4 hours ago
  • I have one of those curly light bulbs that I've had for literally 17 years and it hasn't gone out. Used it every single day up until about a year ago when I got some wifi bulbs and have it in my lamp

    Chef HoganChef Hogan4 hours ago
  • Technology is deflationary

    IntrospectiveLifeIntrospectiveLife4 hours ago
  • 4 words, “I love your work.”

    ginotry mwariwanguginotry mwariwangu5 hours ago
  • Veratasium- I respect your channel but why don’t you mention the waste, littler, and poisoning of our planet due to this idea of planned obsolescence in this modern era. There a no citations in this that include the thousands of negative implications that planned obsolesce is causing as of this moment. What are your thoughts?

    Lucas AlamoLucas Alamo5 hours ago
  • Except the diode will last but the driver will typically fail first. More often than not the drivers are build into the unit rather than seperate (at least for downlights/globes), add to that the drivers don't like heat (nor does the diode) and the diode is often ran at higher current (therefore more heat/losses) to minimize the amount of diodes required which also hurts the life of the driver which is normally located close to the led heatsinks. Check out Philips Dubai series of LEDs for high efficiency globes, and how it compares to where companies are still using planned obsolescence in LED technology

    Jeff BirdJeff Bird5 hours ago
  • greed 100

    Brian LeeBrian Lee5 hours ago
  • Still makes me insanely mad that Musk called his company Tesla when Tesla wanted everyone to have access. Yet you aren’t even able to fix your own car if it’s a Tesla. The won’t even sell you the parts.

    Josh LockieJosh Lockie5 hours ago
  • An everlasting lightbulb xD tell that to my 6 months old Phillips led bulb that just died gets used once or twice a day.

    exogatorexogator5 hours ago
  • Imagine being the guy that designed a worse light bulb, that’s some bad karma

    Josh LockieJosh Lockie5 hours ago
  • This is the only problem I for see with an actual free market.

    Josh LockieJosh Lockie5 hours ago
  • That thumbnail sums up the sort’ve shill you must be. Double wrapping your muzzle and all 😂😂😂

    clebmediaclebmedia6 hours ago
  • LED light-bulbs break soon enough to be trash in the first place and that won't change because in fact there are many small lights attached to one another inside of it, in a string like Christmas tree decoration. When one fails all go out. I could only repair some of them, when the contacts were large enough to receive any solder and facing to the outside. Some bulbs were glass and could not be opened at all. This is in fact a way to shorten the life and makes LED still less favorable to lets say: the polluting energy saving bulbs. The repair is simple, you can identify the broken cell because that one will have a black spot on the yellow. Short it out, preferable by a small resistor. LED bulbs would live up to the expectation only when they could be opened and new individual LED's put over small metal pins at both sides of every LED element, like an ear ring.

    AlfredMoiAlfredMoi6 hours ago
  • So terrible for the environment

    William OwenWilliam Owen6 hours ago
  • I will never own an Apple product. They are overpriced junk.

    Your Nightmares Come TrueYour Nightmares Come True6 hours ago
  • Money is more important than anything, even human life is expendable for an amount of money.

    SiN FPV 711313101SSiN FPV 711313101S6 hours ago
  • Proves how dumb and greedy humans are. Sad deals. Good info. Didn't enjoy you promoting gmo food safety on the bill nye show however. That was awful and dangerously false, stuffin more moola in the pockets of the glyphosate chem company.

    Nicky BigattoNicky Bigatto6 hours ago
  • for a channel that had such a wide reach, thank you for sharing this with everyone, your next video should be that you're of sound mental health and are not suicidal

    JoannaJoanna6 hours ago
  • But Tesla batteries... Users can't repurpose due to patents

    t ot o6 hours ago
  • Regarding incandescent light bulbs. You failed to mention the reason for the shorter life was people wanted a brighter and more natural white than the very warm ~1800K light bulbs on the market which also had a long life. More current through a carbon filament the hotter it gets and the color temperature of the bulb is whiter but at the expense of it's life. One issue with carbon filaments is they are fragile and could not be used on locomotives (because of the vibrations) for which there was a demand. Filament research done in the early years with metal filaments such as tantalum which were brighter and more efficient but required very long lengths and osmium which was very expensive. In the early 1920's tungsten was being developed as a filament, however until there was a process perfected to produce ductile tungsten from sintered rod it was commercially unviable. The overall goal was to increase the durability of the bulb while at the same time producing a more natural white. Early light bulbs were at a vacuum, and it was how vacuum tubes were discovered. Filaments burning in a vacuum reduces its life significantly as it slowly vaporizes. It wasn't until the advent of commercial quantities of noble gases such as argon and neon that they became a light bulb filling gas superior to nitrogen. The filling gas was able to reduce the vaporization of the filament. You can see this filament vaporization easily with an old light bulb - the dark stain at the uppermost part of the glass bulb is the metal from the filament. Other incandescent lamps such as the Nernst lamp did away with internal filaments and used a ceramic rod heated to incandescence and did not require a vacuum or argon / neon environment. They produced a much whiter light, and were about two times as efficient as carbon filament light bulbs. It wasn't until tungsten light bulbs hit the market that Nernst lamps fell out of favor. I am a glass blower, I've been making hand blown neon signs for over 40 years. I have several technical books on lighting predating neon lighting from the 1920's.

    tihzhotihzho6 hours ago
  • Reporter: Einstein, how does it feel to be the smartest man in the world? Einstein: you'd have to ask nikola tesla

    t ot o6 hours ago
    • designs rarely change.

      JoannaJoanna6 hours ago
  • Well... if they did that with light bulbs; then I wonder how many other products were made worse?

    The Devils PulpitThe Devils Pulpit7 hours ago
  • The race is on and it's a race to the bottom.

    ThestripperThestripper7 hours ago
  • I suspect many products have a similar story to this.

    Jimmy JamJimmy Jam7 hours ago
  • the population would be entirely out of work if there wasn't a giant vicious circle for replacing junk products. even worse the consumer can't repair it themselves if it's not obsolete for their use of the item. designed to fail knowing it cannot be repaired to oem standard is just blissfully stupid.

    PwnzCrew GamingPwnzCrew Gaming7 hours ago
  • I think the ever lasting led bulb needs to be more ever lasting. The average life span of a led should be over 20,000 hours but every led bulb I have gotten lasts about asking as any incandescent bulb.

    Quantum LabQuantum Lab7 hours ago
  • LED light bulbs, 6 years now and still going strong...

    tihzhotihzho7 hours ago
  • People waste so much money on technology and phones. Materialism will be the end of man on this planet.

    randomhumor1randomhumor17 hours ago
  • Would you want that 1901 bulb in your house for any practical purpose? No. You would not. People upgrade lighting all the time or the same reason they upgrade computers and devices - better performance. There's an entire aftermarket for that sort of thing in the car world.

    usquanigousquanigo8 hours ago
  • I thought that people cared about the environment and wanted to reduce humanity's carbon footprint.... Surely throwing stuff away, like an iphone with a dead battery, and not recycling goes against everything what the bleeding-hearts of 'climate-change' believe in! Another case of maximum greed and hypocrisy.

    P. AlexP. Alex8 hours ago
  • I have two led light bulbs that are defective... 1 year old

    Olivier RoyOlivier Roy8 hours ago
  • 10:40 "This is when you get the climactic scene where factory workers and factory owners team up to chase away [progress]." What an amazingly American thing to have the honour to witness...

    joe djoe d8 hours ago
  • You didn't mention that underpowered incandescent bulb lasts longer but is way less efficient. (also, it's not true that incandescent bulbs didn't change - halogen lamps are all around).

    Alex LoskutovAlex Loskutov9 hours ago
  • Watch this video while you still can. Predatory corporations will shut it down with false copyright claims.

    ms3banims3bani9 hours ago
  • Most of the lightbulbs that I have bought 8 years ago when i moved in still work. and I turn them on and off every day (im from Austria and I think i bought them from IKEA)

    Petar JovicPetar Jovic9 hours ago
  • This reminds me of BMW / Audi etc - Each year theres a minor design change, resulting in a car that is out of date after 1 year. One reason I like the Italian brands more....the designs rarely change.

    TheNewcastlePilotTheNewcastlePilot9 hours ago
  • There's a huge difference between building something that will deliberately break and making a product more desirable. People enjoy aesthetic variety; there's nothing wrong with getting a new car because it looks spiffy.

    Pete McCutchenPete McCutchen9 hours ago
  • Don't ask questions, just consume, when product fails but next product.

    IkilleddaveIkilleddave9 hours ago
  • Light bulbs, the gateway red pill. Next thing we know you will have some excellent videos on Rockefeller oil, medicine, and eugenics. I cant wait.

    Ralph SouseRalph Souse9 hours ago
  • LED bulbs fail often. I've had a number of them go bad after a year, usually they start flickering. I suspect they have worked out a way to have the heat it produces slowly kill the bulb.

    Mike GervasiMike Gervasi9 hours ago
  • Amazing. So the world is purposely wasting resources to make more money, making their products worse to keep their business booming, and everybody really could've made the solutions that we all seek to technological advancements, but we don't, because money. We let money change our lives and the world, and the way we do and see things. We have made money the center of our lives. Money, what makes companies big, which makes us see them with more biased judgements. Money, that makes us favor one profession over another, or one position over another. That's amazing. Respect to all those small companies...who are giving all they've got to try and make solutions to problems big companies created. This makes sense now, why it's always a small company or starter that's coming up with these amazing new innovations and ideas...Hmph.

    EforAllGamingEforAllGaming9 hours ago
  • +=1=2=3=4=2=5=5=9=6=6=4=

    Dave VickyDave Vicky10 hours ago
  • The problem isn't even capitalism or greed, the problem is the economic system of the fractionary reserve currency of the dollar. It is very complicated and hard to understand and it's done so on porpuse. But basically it means that the more money is created (and the amount can be literaly infinite) the less purchasing power it has (its value goes down) if we had a monetary system that did the opposite (such as bitcoin which is a set amount that instead of going down in value, it actually goes up as times passes by) we wouldn't had to worry about job loses or unemployment. The dollar and the federal reserve currency system that runs every single currency in the world is the problem. The reptilian house of rothschild is the real problem.

    Jose ChamJose Cham10 hours ago
  • take this thinking and put it on the topic of the cure to cancer... would humans really do this.... yes

    Shane TShane T10 hours ago
  • The reason? It was handmade. The End.

    diane ridleydiane ridley10 hours ago
  • Shimano bike parts. The ones from the 80s will last forever. Now you get a year or two max.

    Scott MeechScott Meech10 hours ago
  • What this really tells me is that not every person needs to work... and that the assumption that everyone does is harming the environment by causing us to make more stuff and drive for more profits

    SonjaSonja10 hours ago
    • @Dave Vicky What?

      SonjaSonja9 hours ago
    • +=1=2=3=4=2=5=5=9=6=6=4=

      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • Even in X2 speed, this is so boring!

    Mahdi M.Mahdi M.10 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • And people r so proud and arrogent about their iphones , but the truth is iphone is unwanted luxury and those who die to buy it r also fools..

    Flash LightFlash Light10 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • This video is 2 min 29 seconds too long

    K HK H10 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • Except they purposely design the supporting hardware for the LED bulb to fail much sooner then the bulb itself. So it's still happening.

    Elite Truck RepairsElite Truck Repairs10 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • Good ol' capitalism

    Schuyler KelleySchuyler Kelley11 hours ago
    • +=1=2=3=4=2=5=5=9=6=6=4=

      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • ah yes, capitalism

    kk11 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • Get you wondering about all the other stuff that goes on not just light bulbs and electronics.

    graytoby1graytoby111 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • This video is mind-boggling and depressing at the same time. Awesome topic!

    Mohammad Abdur RahimMohammad Abdur Rahim11 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • You know when someone says "it's a right wing conspiracy" then it's going to turn out to be true

    Dave OcDave Oc11 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • I love how the fire station has a security camera directly on the lightbulb like it’s their most prized possession 6:40

    Miles SwansonMiles Swanson11 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • It's just capitalism doing what it does.

    Ayushman MadhukarAyushman Madhukar12 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • just install an automated self destruct sequence that kicks in after a year

    Shik AnosukeShik Anosuke12 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • "Wait your not my mom"

    qwortqwort12 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • I see this with the new led bulbs. I have replaced many failed ones, and there is NO reason they should be failing!! It's not the leds, they design the electronics with a weak point because you could easily make them last ten years or so.

    J. W.J. W.12 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • this is not unique at all. Just another story the same as all the rest about greed consumption and control. It takes fossil fuels to make these light bulbs who cares burn up the oil burn up the atmosphere use up every resource of our mother Earth for the same exact story repeated 1 billion times… Selfish greed. And corruption. every story is the same from politics through war through production through social interaction humans exploit his fellow man at every example known… You wonder why the planet is dying

    Jeff RenmanJeff Renman12 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • This is why Everlasting Gobstoppers don’t make sense. Willie Wonka lied to us!

    Greg BorsGreg Bors12 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • I hope you doing well and have an amazing day as well! Stay safe and stay relaxed 💕

    WigadamaWigadama12 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • even the diamond is a scam

    eioj tasogareeioj tasogare12 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • This is why i have trouble finding spare parts for my Yamaha TT 600 R. If someone wants to sell me their side stand please send me a message! Cheers.

    Daxter T. SnickersDaxter T. Snickers12 hours ago
    • @Dave Vicky What? Is this "the message"?

      Daxter T. SnickersDaxter T. Snickers9 hours ago
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      Dave VickyDave Vicky9 hours ago
  • These are the same companies that corrupt our democracy. They aren't human. If they do not make more than before they will die. This is why we have for profit wars, for profit healthcare, schooling, housing, etc, and manufactured scarcity. Capitalism is great, but it is immoral and without regulation will act grossly inhuman.

    erNomicerNomic12 hours ago
  • Now look up who imported all that crack in the 80s.

    TonixxyTonixxy13 hours ago
  • ur so big brain

    Dr. WafflesDr. Waffles13 hours ago
  • Fashion vs Green - Clash of the Titans

    BlueNinja BlueNinjaBlueNinja BlueNinja13 hours ago
  • LED bulbs are already obsolete, planned poor driver circuitry

    Cadplast24Cadplast2413 hours ago
  • consumerism is a communist agenda

    8 bit Romania8 bit Romania13 hours ago

    Benjamin Gal-OrBenjamin Gal-Or13 hours ago
  • Another way planned obsolescence happens, is in how data is downloaded. In about two years time, it is difficult to download any more information or apps. My phone won't even download updates to the system anymore, citing low battery or slow connection when neither of these is true.

    Ginny JollyGinny Jolly13 hours ago