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Much of the world’s Internet management and governance takes place in a corridor extending west from Washington, DC, through northern Virginia toward Washington Dulles International Airport. Much of the United States’ military planning and analysis takes place here as well. At the center of that corridor is Tysons Corner—an unincorporated suburban crossroads once dominated by dairy farms and gravel pits. Today, the government contractors and high- tech firms—companies like DynCorp, CACI, Verisign, and SAIC—that now populate this corridor have created an “Internet Alley” off the Washington Beltway. In From Tysons Corner to Internet Alley, Paul Ceruzzi examines this compact area of intense commercial development and describes its transformation into one of the most dynamic and prosperous regions in the country. Ceruzzi explains how a concentration of military contractors carrying out weapons analysis, systems engineering, operations research, and telecommunications combined with suburban growth patterns to drive the region’s development. The dot-com bubble’s burst was offset here, he points out, by the government’s growing national security-related need for information technology. Ceruzzi looks in detail at the nature of the work carried out by these government contractors and how it can be considered truly innovative in terms of both technology and management. Today in Tysons Corner, clusters of sleek new office buildings housing high-technology companies stand out against the suburban landscape, and the upscale Tysons Galleria Mall is neighbor to a government-owned radio tower marked by a sign warning visitors not to photograph or sketch it. Ceruzzi finds that a variety of perennially relevant issues intersect here, making it both a literal and figurative crossroads: federal support of scientific research, the shift of government activities to private contractors, local politics of land use, and the postwar movement from central cities to suburbs.
About the Author
Paul E. Ceruzzi is a Curator at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. He is the author of A History of Modern Computing, Internet Alley: High Technology in Tysons Corner, 1945-2005, both published by the MIT Press, and other books.
“An exemplar of how the history of technology can help us understand our own cities, this book not only adds critical new information regarding such prominent but enigmatic corporations as SAIC and the Carlyle Group (not to mention AOL and NRA), but also unites the strains of 'regionalism' and 'federalism' in the history of technology.”
—David Mindell, Director, Program in Science, Technology, and Society, MIT
“This is a visionary look at Tyson's Corner as the driving force of the nation’s technological economy. Paul Ceruzzi has taken a story of regional history and woven it with the history of internet development, creating a unique and compelling read that reveals the little-understood symbiosis between government and private enterprise in the realm of computers.”
—Michael R. Williams, Professor Emeritus, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary
“Rich in persuasive detail, Cerruzi's Internet Alley is a lively narrative and eye-opening account that tells the unheralded story of a rival to Silicon Valley.”
—Thomas Parke Hughes, author of Human-Built World