About sixty years ago [i.e., sixty years before 1956] Gabriel Tarde (1843-1904), the great French sociologist, dealt with the problem of the popularization of luxuries. An industrial innovation, he pointed out, enters the market as the extravagance of an elite before it finally turns, step-by-step, into a need of each and all and is considered indispensable. What was once a luxury becomes in the course of time a necessity. The history of technology and marketing provides ample exemplification to confirm Tarde’s thesis. There was in the past a considerable time lag between the emergence of something unheard of before and its becoming an article of everybody’s use. It sometimes took many centuries until an innovation was generally accepted at least within the orbit of Western civilization. Think of the slow popularization of the use of forks, of soap, of handkerchiefs, and of a great variety of other things.
–Ludwig von Mises. Luxuries into Necessities