wrote the recent article on studless Technic a couple weeks back, I was curious-- how quickly did the transition to studless Technic happen? So I did a quick experiment. I listed all the "normal" Technic elements with studs, as well as a whole slew of other "less-normal" pieces with studs, and how many studs per piece each had. I tried to make sure I counted every element that appeared in at least 10 technic sets (plus a bunch more, too, actually). Then I graphed the average number of studs per piece in LEGO Technic sets since 1977:
So, that's approximate because I didn't actually verify whether or not EVERY single element had studs or not. And I it's also not including Dacta/Education sets, since those often come with a bunch of normal bricks for kids to build with. Also doesn't count accessory/service packs.
You can definitely see that there's a downward slant in 1996/1997, but then it plunges pretty dramatically! Interesting, certainly!
I was also surprised by the supposed number of studs in current sets-- something like 0.1 stud per piece? That seemed odd to me at first, since I don't think of current technic sets having 1 stud per every 10 elements. Some of that's due to things like the Technic half-pin (which I counted as having 1 stud) or 1x1 round plates added for details, but it's also due to occasional larger elements that have more studs (like 1x8 plates, etc) which show up here and there.