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History of Technology

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Since the late 1960s the Internet has grown from a single experimental network serving a dozen sites in the United States to a network of networks linking millions of computers worldwide. In Inventing the Internet, Janet Abbate recounts the key players and technologies that allowed the Internet to develop; but her main focus is always on the social and cultural factors that influenced the Internets design and use. The story she unfolds is an often twisting tale of collaboration and conflict among a remarkable variety of players, including government and military agencies, computer scientists in academia and industry, graduate students, telecommunications companies, standards organizations, and network users. The story starts with the early networking breakthroughs formulated in Cold War think tanks and realized in the Defense Department's creation of the ARPANET. It ends with the emergence of the Internet and its rapid and seemingly chaotic growth. Abbate looks at how academic and military influences and attitudes shaped both networks; how the usual lines between producer and user of a technology were crossed with interesting and unique results; and how later users invented their own very successful applications, such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web. She concludes that such applications continue the trend of decentralized, user-driven development that has characterized the Internet's entire history and that the key to the Internet's success has been a commitment to flexibility and diversity, both in technical design and in organizational culture.

Classic Readings with a Contemporary Commentary
Edited by Nick Huggett

Learning through original texts can be a powerful heuristic tool. This book collects a dozen classic readings that are generally accepted as the most significant contributions to the philosophy of space. The readings have been selected both on the basis of their relevance to recent debates on the nature of space and on the extent to which they carry premonitions of contemporary physics. In his detailed commentaries, Nick Huggett weaves together the readings and links them to our modern understanding of the subject. Together the readings indicate the general historical development of the concept of space, and in his commentaries Huggett explains their logical relations. He also uses our contemporary understanding of space to help clarify the key ideas of the texts. One goal is to prepare the reader (both scientist and nonscientist) to learn and understand relativity theory, the basis of our current understanding of space. The readings are by Zeno, Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Clarke, Berkeley, Kant, Mach, Poincaré, and Einstein.

Discourses on Modernity, 1900-1939

Starting around 1900, technology became a lively subject for debate among intellectuals, writers, and other opinion leaders. The expansion of the machine into ever more areas of social and economic life had led to a need to interpret its meanings in a more comprehensive way than in the past. World War I and its aftermath shifted the terms of this ongoing debate by underlining both the potential dangers of technology and its centrality to modern life.

This book examines the broad range of social and intellectual responses to technology in the first four decades of this century, and suggests that these responses set the terms that continue to govern contemporary debates. Focusing on the broader contexts within which intellectual positions are formed, the book highlights the ways in which attitudes toward technology were shaped in a wide variety of national and organizational settings. A common theme is that, in debating technology, people drew on their distinctive national symbols and cultural traditions. By emphasizing the interplay between debates on technology and the making of modernity, the book challenges standard historical accounts of the early twentieth century.

Contributors:
Ketil G. Andersen, Aant Elzinga, Tor Halvorsen, Mikael Hård, Kjetil Jakobsen, Andrew Jamison, Catharina Landström, Conny Mithander, Sissel Myklebust, Dick van Lente, Peter Wagner.

A Social History of American Energies

How did the United States become the world's largest consumer of energy? David Nye shows that this is less a question about the development of technology than it is a question about the development of culture. In Consuming Power Nye uses energy as a touchstone to examine the lives of ordinary people engaged in normal activities. He looks at how these activities changed as new energy systems were constructed, from colonial times to recent years. He also shows how, as Americans incorporated new machines and processes into their lives, they became ensnared in power systems that were not easily changed: they made choices about the conduct of their lives, and those choices accumulated to produce a consuming culture. Nye examines a sequence of large systems that acquired and then lost technological momentum over the course of American history, including water power, steam power, electricity, the internal-combustion engine, atomic power, and computerization. He shows how each system became part of a larger set of social constructions through its links to the home, the factory, and the city. The result is a social history of America as seen through the lens of energy consumption.

Technical innovation has moved to center stage in contemporary debates on economic theory and policy, and Chris Freeman and Luc Soete have played a prominent part in these debates. For this new edition of The Economics of Industrial Innovation, they have rewritten all the existing chapters and added ten new ones that address recent advances in theory and in policymaking. In the new chapters they deal with the international dimensions of technical change including underdevelopment, technology transfer, international trade, and globalization. They have also strengthened the historical account of the rise of new technologies, a main feature of earlier editions. They take advantage of their experience on projects for the OECD, the European Union, and industry in other new chapters on "The Information Society" and on environmental issues, as well as in the updated discussion of science and technology policy.


Technology has long played a central role in the formation of Americans' sense of selfhood. From the first canal systems through the moon landing, Americans have, for better or worse, derived unity from the common feeling of awe inspired by large-scale applications of technological prowess. American Technological Sublime continues the exploration of the social construction of technology that David Nye began in his award-winning book Electrifying America. Here Nye examines the continuing appeal of the "technological sublime" (a term coined by Perry Miller) as a key to the nation's history, using as examples the natural sites, architectural forms, and technological achievements that ordinary people have valued intensely.

American Technological Sublime is a study of the politics of perception in industrial society. Arranged chronologically, it suggests that the sublime itself has a history - that sublime experiences are emotional configurations that emerge from new social and technological conditions, and that each new configuration to some extent undermines and displaces the older versions. After giving a short history of the sublime as an aesthetic category, Nye describes the reemergence and democratization of the concept in the early nineteenth century as an expression of the American sense of specialness.

What has filled the American public with wonder, awe, even terror? David Nye selects the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the Erie Canal, the first transcontinental railroad, Eads Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, the major international expositions, the Hudson-Fulton Celebration of 1909, the Empire State Building, and Boulder Dam. He then looks at the atom bomb tests and the Apollo mission as examples of the increasing ambivalence of the technological sublime in the postwar world. The festivities surrounding the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986 become a touchstone reflecting the transformation of the American experience of the sublime over two centuries. Nye concludes with a vision of the modern-day "consumer sublime" as manifested in the fantasy world of Las Vegas.


The Extensions of Man

with a new introduction by Lewis H. Lapham This reissue of Understanding Media marks the thirtieth anniversary (1964-1994) of Marshall McLuhan's classic expose on the state of the then emerging phenomenon of mass media. Terms and phrases such as "the global village" and "the medium is the message" are now part of the lexicon, and McLuhan's theories continue to challenge our sensibilities and our assumptions about how and what we communicate.There has been a notable resurgence of interest in McLuhan's work in the last few years, fueled by the recent and continuing conjunctions between the cable companies and the regional phone companies, the appearance of magazines such as WiRed, and the development of new media models and information ecologies, many of which were spawned from MIT's Media Lab. In effect, media now begs to be redefined. In a new introduction to this edition of Understanding Media, Harper's editor Lewis Lapham reevaluates McLuhan's work in the light of the technological as well as the political and social changes that have occurred in the last part of this century.

In this insightful and incisive essay, Eugene Ferguson demonstrates that good engineering is as much a matter of intuition and nonverbal thinking as of equations and computation. He argues that a system of engineering education that ignores nonverbal thinking will produce engineers who are dangerously ignorant of the many ways in which the real world differs from the mathematical models constructed in academic minds.

Case Studies in Science and Technology

How do scientific principles work in the real world? Discovery, Innovation, and Risk presents brief descriptions of selected scientific principles in the context of interesting technological examples to illustrate the complex interplay among science, engineering, and society. An understanding of scientific principles is developed through the technology rather than in isolation from it. Drawn from significant contributions to modern culture that arose during the Second Industrial Revolution, examples depict events in each of the major divisions of engineering, touch on key principles in physics, chemistry, and biology, and introduce the important concept of risk.

Case studies in the first section emphasize technological developments growing directly from scientific discoveries. These cases include telegraphy and the origin of telecommunications as an application of discoveries in electromagnetism, hydroelectric power as an outgrowth of Faraday's work in electromagnetic induction, and the airplane as a product of the Wright brothers' scientific approach to an engineering problem. Case studies in the second section show that technological innovation can proceed without a full understanding of the underlying science, as in the development of steam power for use in electric power plants, the production of gasoline from crude oil, and the development of prestressed concrete for use in building bridges. The fact that new technological developments often bring risks is amply illustrated in the third section by case studies on vaccines, the greenhouse effect, and atomic power.

Social Meanings of a New Technology, 1880-1940

How did electricity enter everyday life in America? Using Muncie, Indiana - the Lynds' now iconic Middletown - as a touchstone, David Nye explores how electricity seeped into and redefined American culture. With an eye for telling details from archival sources and a broad understanding of cultural and social history, he creates a thought-provoking panorama of a technology fundamental to modern life. Emphasizing the experiences of ordinary men and women rather than the lives of inventors and entrepreneurs, Nye treats electrification as a set of technical possibilities that were selectively adopted to create the streetcar suburb, the amusement park, the "Great White Way," the assembly line, the electrified home, and the industrialized farm. He shows how electricity touched every part of American life, how it became an extension of political ideologies, how it virtually created the image of the modern city, and how it even pervaded colloquial speech, confirming the values of high energy and speed that have become hallmarks of the twentieth century. He also pursues the social meaning of electrification as expressed in utopian ideas and exhibits at world's fairs, and explores the evocation of electrical landscapes in painting, literature, and photography. Electrifying America combines chronology and topicality to examine the major forms of light and power as they came into general use. It shows that in the city electrification promoted a more varied landscape and made possible new art forms and new consumption environments. In the factory, electricity permitted a complete redesign of the size and scale of operations, shifting power away from the shop floor to managers. Electrical appliances redefined domestic work and transformed the landscape of the home, while on the farm electricity laid the foundation for today's agribusiness.

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