Some time ago I compiled a list of all the amazing technologies that came out of the 1950's and 60's. Things like titanium had been around forever
but not really understood until the early 50s. Fiber Optics had been around since the lightbulb but they could not get it to work effectively until
the 1950s. If you read Philip Corso manuscript, he claims that Fiber Optics was discovered at Roswell and they learned how to wrap the optics so that
it could turn corners, only then did it become a viable product.
You could also make an extremely good case that there really was no evolution of the circuit board, in early days of computing computing 1947-1959 the
machines were literally as big as a house and then the circuit board magically appeared and the house size computer fit into a reasonably small box.
This is not intended to diminish the acheivements of mankind in anyway. This is just a statement of a few of the amazing developments of the 1950s and
60s. I developed this list to give the issue some clarity and as food for thought.
Sometimes called the "space age metal"
Titanium was discovered in 1791, but it was not until the early 1950s titanium began to be used extensively for military aviation purposes,
particularly in high-performance jets, starting with aircraft such as the F100 Super Sabres and Lockheed A-12.
In the USA, the Department of Defense realized the strategic importance of the metal and supported early efforts of commercialization. Throughout the
period of the Cold War, titanium was considered a Strategic Material by the U.S. government, and a large stockpile of titanium sponge was maintained
by the Defense National Stockpile Center.
Bullet Proof Vest 1951
Bullet proof vest have been around since WWII but they were not really understood or did much good until the early 1950s. During the Korean War
several new vests were produced for the United States military, including the M-1951, which made use of fibre-reinforced plastic or aluminium segments
woven into a nylon vest. These vests represented "a vast improvement on weight, but the armor failed to stop bullets and fragments very
successfully," although officially they were claimed to be able to stop 7.62x25mm Tokarev pistol rounds at the muzzle. Developed by Natick
Laboratories and introduced in 1967, T65-2 plate carriers were the first vests designed to hold hard ceramic plates, making them capable of stopping 7
mm rifle rounds
Transistor radio 1953
Pottering around the garden to the sounds of the Ashes; lying back in the bath with The Archers on; blocking out the office din with a chart hit; all
simple pleasures made possible by the transistor radio. Until their introduction, radios were bulky affairs hooked up to the mains, but that changed
in the early 1950s when the transistor manufacturer Texas Instruments commissioned the Indianapolis firm IDEA to develop the Regency TR1, which cost
almost $500 in today's money when it went on sale in 1954
Remote Control, 1955
1955—TV REMOTE CONTROLIt marks the official end of humanity's struggle for survival and the beginning of its quest for a really relaxing afternoon.
The wireless remote, designed by Zenith's Eugene Polley, is essentially a flashlight. When Zenith discovers that direct sunlight also can change
channels on the remote-receptive TVs, the company comes out with a model that uses ultrasound; it lasts into the 1980s, to the chagrin of many a
family dog. The industry then switches to infrared.
In 1956, Wilson Greatbatch grabs the wrong resistor and connects it to a device he is building to record heartbeats. When the circuit emits a pulse,
he realizes the device can be used to control the beat; in 1960 the first PACEMAKER is successfully implanted in a human.
Laser Technology, 1958
1958/LASER BEAM Whitens teeth, removes tattoos, corrects vision, scans groceries, tracks missiles. Man has been trying to find a way to contain a
laser beam technology magically arrives on the scene in the 1950s.
Fiber Optics, 1958
Fiber optic has been around for a hundred years but it was not really until late 1958 that it was understood how it could be used for commercial and
military purposes. Oddly enough the laser and fiber optics pretty much developed at the same time.
It is impossible to sum up how much these tiny slivers of silicon and metal have transformed our lives. They feature in everything from toys to tanks
and motorbikes to microwaves but when, in 1952, the engineer Geoffrey Dummer proposed using a block of silicon, whose layers would provide the
components of electronic systems, nobody took him seriously and he never built a working prototype. Six years later, US engineer Jack Kilby took the
baton and built the world's first monolithic integrated circuit, or microchip
Integrated Circuit, 1959
The first general-purpose computer, the nearly 30-ton ENIAC (1947), contains 18,000 vacuum tubes, 70,000 resistors and
10,000 capacitors. In 1959, the INTEGRATED CIRCUIT puts those innards on one tiny chip. Before the entire world is networked, there is the
ARPANET—four computers linked in 1969.
Communication Satellites, 1960
In 1960 AT&T filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to launch an experimental communications satellite with a view to
rapidly implementing an operational system. The U.S. government reacted with surprise-- there was no policy in place to help execute the many
decisions related to the AT&T proposal. By the middle of 1961, NASA had awarded a competitive contract to RCA to build a medium-orbit (4,000 miles
high) active communication satellite (RELAY); AT&T was building its own medium-orbit satellite (TELSTAR) which NASA would launch on a
cost-reimbursable basis; and NASA had awarded a sole- source contract to Hughes Aircraft Company to build a 24-hour (20,000 mile high) satellite
(SYNCOM). The military program, ADVENT, was cancelled a year later due to complexity of the spacecraft, delay in launcher availability, and cost
Cordless Technology, 1961
In 1961 Black and Decker releases its first cordless drill, but designers could not coax more than 20 watts from its NiCd batteries. Instead, they
strive for efficiency, modifying gear ratios and using better materials. The revolutionary result puts new power in the hands of DIYers and—thanks
to a NASA contract—the gloves of astronauts.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, 1962
Widespread use of remotely piloted aircraft begins during the Vietnam War with deployment of 1000 AQM-34 Ryan Firebees. The first model of these
29-ft.-long planes was developed in just 90 days in 1962. AQM-34s go on to fly more than 34,000 surveillance missions. Their success leads to the
eventual development of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles widely used today.
Night Vision Devices, 1963
First generation passive devices, introduced during the Vietnam War, were an adaptation of earlier active GEN 0 technology, and rely on ambient light
instead of an infrared light source. Using an S-20 photocathode, their image intensifiers produce a light amplifier 1000X but also require moonlight
Early computers were the size of houses and sported a bewildering array of buttons and sliders. With the explosion in the amount of information
pinging across screens around the world, a simple way to manage it all was required. The US radar technician Douglas Engelbart of the Stanford
Research Institute took up the challenge and produced the first "X-Y position indicator" prototype in 1964. Its tail-like cable lead to the mouse
moniker, and their population is expected to top a billion by the end of next year.
Charged-Couple Device, 1969
Bell Labs' George Smith and Willard Boyle invent a charge-coupled device (CCD) that can measure light arriving at a rate of just one photon per
minute. Smith and Boyle's apparatus allows extremely faint images to be recorded, which is very useful in astronomy. Today, its most noticeable
impact is in digital cameras, which rely on CCD arrays containing millions of pixels.
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