50s and 60s: The Time of Great American Technological Innovations Essay Example

  • Category: United States, World,
  • Pages: 6
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  • Published: 15 April 2021
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The fifties and sixties were a time of tremendous innovation in the United States. Entertainment, everyday life, government agencies, and various other areas, experienced huge technological advancements during this time period.

First and foremost, entertainment was very popular in the fifties and sixties, due to the baby boom, and the increase of moms and kids staying at home, along with several technologies contributing to the boost in entertainment. For example, television was huge in the fifties. The fifties was known as “The Golden Age of Television”. At the start of the fifties there were there major channels: ABC, CBS, and NBC, and about three million people owned televisions. By the end of the fifties, there were five hundred and thirty stations and fifty five million owned televisions.

The growth of television was huge and television became common in American households. The first commercial colour TV program was “Premiere”, aired by CBS in attempt to gain popularity for their introduction of colour broadcasting, and it first debuted June 25, 1951.  A big technological creation was the video tape recorder, which first debuted in August of 1951. It was created by Charles Ginsburg who was working for Ampex, and it was the first high quality broadcast tape recorder. Another entertainment innovation was the hula- hoop patented on March 5, 1963 as a hip-swiveling toy. The hula- hoop became a very popular toy. It was first marketed by Arthur “Spud” Melin and Richard Knerr who worked for Wham-O. In the first 4 months, 25 million hula- hoops were sold. Another entertainment- based invention in the fifties was the transistor radio.

The transistor radio was first developed in 1954. It was based on a Bell Laboratories transistor, and was a portable size that allowed music to be taken anywhere. The first massed produced model was the Regency TR1, and over 100,000 were sold in the first year. The transistor radio was the precursor to modern day radios and portable music players. Another technological based invention was the programmable music synthesizer. This was called the RCA Mark 2 Sound Synthesizer, created in 1958, by Columbia Princeton Electronic Music Center. The modern synthesizer was introduced for commercial use in 1964 by Robert Moog. The synthesizer gained popularity in gospel music, and added electric sounds to music.  In short, these entertainment became popular in the sixties due to the increase in people having leisure time, and these innovations.

Additionally, technological inventions in the fifties and sixties made everyday life much easier and more enjoyable. One major advancement was how people paid for things and accessed money. For example, In 1950 Frank McNamara created the first credit card, the Diners Club. The first all purpose charge cards were only simple pieces of paper. American Express created the first mass market credit card in 1958. Similar to the credit card, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were also invented in the fifties. James Goodfellow and John Shepherd- Barron had the idea to have a machine that dispenses money whenever or wherever. They first started appearing commercially in the late sixties, and started to become popular, as people saw their great convenience. Then, in 1951, power steering was first commercially introduced.

Hydraulic advancements led to the creation of power steering, which made driving much easier. Chrysler first brought out power steering using the name “Hydraguide”, and soon after power steering became a standard in cars. Additionally, diet soda pop was created in 1952. The No- Cal was designed by Hyman and Morris Kirsch of Kirsch Bottling and was created for diabetic patients in hospitals. Diet drinks became extremely popular, and more companies started selling diet drinks. Handheld calculators were invented by Texas Instruments and Jack Kilby in 1966. These were created based on the invention of the integrated circuit, otherwise known as the microchip. The microchip was first designed in 1958. Robert Noyce improved on the original design by replacing germanium with silicon. Silicon made the components function more efficiently, and led to the development of commercial microchips released in 1961, by the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation.

They were about the size of a baby finger, and consisted of three resistors, a capacitor, and a transistor. By comparison, modern day microchips are the size of a grain of rice and can hold up to 125 million transistors. Oral contraceptives were first approved by the FDA in 60s, and became a common method of Birth Control. George Pincus and Min Chueh Chang introduced it with the idea of stimulating certain hormones to prevent pregnancy. Another invention was the airbag in 1952. John W. Hetrick was inspired to design the airbag after his family was in a terrible car crash. Hetrick patented the device in August of 1962, though Dr. Allen S. Breed improved the original design, with an important component that helped with crash detection in 1967. The Breed Corporation then marketed this to Chrysler. In summary, innovations in everyday living were substantial in the fifties and sixties.

Likewise, government agencies such as NASA and the military had important technological inventions in this time period. Most notably for NASA, the launch of Apollo 11 and the first ever moonwalk by Neil Armstrong. This was a big for the United States, after the Soviets launch of Sputnik. The hydrogen bomb was first successfully developed by Edward Teller and his team in May of 1952, though it had been in development since World War II, as it was designed to counter the Axis powers. The USS Nautilus was launched on January 21, 1954 and was the first nuclear submarine.

In August of 1958, the Nautilus became the first ship to cross the North Pole under the codename “Operation Sunshine”. The submarine logged a record setting 300,000 miles during its 25 years of service. The United State Army needed a way to connect bases to radio and defense sites, and so the modem was created. Bell Labs created the forerunner to modern day modems in 1962, and they became very common for the military, and then for civilians. Kevlar is an extremely strong, heat resistant synthetic fiber, now used for everything from gloves to bulletproof vests.

This was first made by Stephanie Kwolek who was working for DuPont in 1965. It was first used in racing car tires and as a replacement for steel tires. One of the biggest technologies first introduced in the fifties and sixties was the internet. The United States Department of Defense started the development of ARPANET in the early sixties, managed by Lawrence Robert and led by Robert Taylor. In 1969, the first message was sent by the computer scientist Leonard Kleinrock. It was a very simplistic form of today’s internet. Another one of NASA’s big projects was the Telstar launched by NASA in 1962. The Telstar was put into space and used for telecommunications, and was the world’s first ever communications satellite. It was created by the American aerospace engineer John Robinson Pierce. Overall, government agencies had big technological inventions in the 50s and 60s.

Lastly, many other technological creations came to be in the fifties and sixties. Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (Laser) first came out in 1960. This was created by Theodore H. Maiman who was working at the Hughes Research Laboratory. Lasers have been used for all sorts of things from manufacturing to medical usage, and were a very significant innovation. On April 25, 1954, Gerald Pearson, Daryl Chapin, and Calvin Fuller, developed the silicon solar cell while working for Bell Laboratories. It became known as the Bell Solar Battery and was the first solar cell able to generate energy directly from the sun. The first solar cell had an efficiency of turning all available energy into electrical power of about 4 percent, whereas modern day solar cells have an efficiency of approximately 14 percent.

Another new invention was the pacemaker, and it was a big advancement in the medical field. Arne H.W. Larsson received the first internal pacemaker on October 8, 1958. The internal pacemaker was invented by Wilson Greatbatch, and the first external pacemaker was made by Earl Bakken in 1957. The Black Box Flight Recorder was created by Dr. David Warren, who wanted to create a device that recorded what happens in an airplane cabin during flight, and that's exactly what the Black Box did. It has been used heavily to figure out why planes crash, and has helped increase airplane safety. Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs were invented in 1962, and first used for displays, but then later used for lights. Nick Holonyak Jr. who was employed by General Electric made the first diode that gave light in a visible range. LEDS are much more efficient than usual incandescent and CFL bulbs. Technological inventions in the fifties and sixties spread over a wide range of categories.

In conclusion, the fifties and sixties were a time of huge change and innovation. In this time period, many existing technologies were improved on, and then used to create new technologies. For instance, the transistor was invented in the forties, but then used to create the microchip and the radio transistor in the 50s and 60s. Additionally, the 1950s and 60s saw the introduction of new technologies, such as the credit card and internet that would be used not only in the fifties and sixties, but would be used regularly in times to come. These innovations would be hard for some people to imagine living without, and they have the fifties to thank for their invention. Overall, the fifties and sixties were a very important time for technology across many different areas.