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The first part of this lecture is based on Peter Galison’s paper: The War Against the Centre, in which he discusses networked technology and thinking as resulting from bombings and code breaking in the Second World War, the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction in the Cold War between the US and USSR that followed, and the technologies that were competitively developed by nation states during this era.

Importantly, after World War II many technicians left Germany to pursue further rocket projects in the U.S. Over one hundred of them entered the U.S. through Operation Paperclip. They were known as the Von Braun Group.

Meanwhile the Soviet Union using its own collection of former German Rocket Scientists launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957 beating the Americans into space, rendering the US’s SAGE radar system all but obsolete, and raising the terrible spectre of nuclear attack from space.

Fearing that they were falling behind the Soviet Union technologically and thus loosing the Cold War, the US government moved quickly to set up ARPA (renamed DARPA in 1972 to reflect its military status) and  NASA. NASA was charged with putting America into the space race with Russia while DARPA was set up to develop an alternative communication system that could enable the military to function in the event of a nuclear strike. A decentralised and distributed network communication system that could survive nuclear war.


Within these hostile conditions, the concept and technology of Internet was born, originally under the name of ARPANET, a network that included universities and military installations across the US.


Mapping the London Blitz

IBM Sage Computer Ad, 1960

Nuclear Weapons: A Visual Timeline

Sputnik 1 & Explorer 1

History of the Internet

Xerox Experimental Office – 1970’s 

TRS-80 Commercial – 1980’s

1984 Apple Computer Commercial

Bill Gates

Steve Jobs 

1994: “What is the Internet, Anyway?”

Eras of the Internet

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