This week's 99% Invisible includes a short piece on the Strowger Switch, the 1878 invention that allowed telephone calls to be connected without a manual operator. Poignantly, Roman includes a bit about the inventor's reaction to the plight of those operators whose jobs would be eliminated due to his invention. His response, I think, is perfectly appropriate, and reminds me of this chart from McKinsey's report on disruptive technologies. From Roman's piece:
La Porte Indiana became the first place to have automatic operator-free telephone dialing. In a speech at the unveiling of the La Porte telephone exchange, the cantankerous Strowger addressed the issue of the 'hello girls' - the operators who would lose their jobs because of his automated switch. "I am often told that the the telephone girls would be angry with me for robbing them of their occupation. In reply, I would say that all things will adjust themselves to the new order. Water will find its level. The telephone replaced the messenger boy, as this machine now displaces the telephone girl. Improvements will continue to the end of time. Strike where they may."