End WWII  Europe had lost over 30 million people. 

1939-1945, US GNP more than doubled. 

impressive new industries - airplanes, synthetic rubber, aluminum. 

Full employment, now eager to spend on new consumer goods.


war destroyed old political order.

vacuum of international power – US & USSR.


military preparedness - US largest navy, strongest air force, monopoly on atom bomb. 

1947 military 33% entire US budget,

Stalin, "You are either with us or against us."

1946 Churchill, "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent."

Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania).

- 1947 "Truman doctrine" - world now divided between two "alternate ways of life".

1948 Communist coup in Czechoslovakia;

"domino theory";

1948 US Nat'l Security Council: USSR & US in a “struggle for power, a 'cold war' in  which our national security is at stake - therefore, US needs to undertake a world-wide counteroffensive against Soviet-directed world communism."


Groves 1945 "oxcart vs automobile situation."  

1949 radioactivity above Pacific. 

"This is now a different world."

June, 1950, Korean War. 

hydrogen bomb (H-bomb or Super) force equal to 750 Hiroshima bombs - fusion. 

Oppenheimer, "Hiroshima was a mistake and Nagasaki a crime". Oppie 1949 chair General Advisory Committee (GAC) high-powered scientific experts advising Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) - GAC concluded US should not develop h-bomb.  Concluded h-bomb weapon of genocide, "necessarily an evil thing considered in any light." Wanted pledge,"a unique opportunity of providing by example some limitations on the totality of war, thus limiting the fears of mankind."

Edward Teller - "the Alarm Clock".  

Truman, "moral considerations are not germane”.

Klaus Fuchs. 

McCarthyism, "soft" on Communism. 

1954 strip Oppenheimer of security clearance; FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

view of scientists as security risk. 

Over 150 faculty Univ of Calif fired 1949 for refusing to sign loyalty oaths.

Edward Condon, director Nat'l Bureau of Standards, accused of being "one of the weakest links in our atomic security."

- Cold War changed nature of science and engineering;

secret sponsored research in university;

Blurs line btwn basic & applied research. 

Stanford's electronics engineering program tripled in size with Navy funding;

end 1960s, MIT $200 million/year sponsored research contracts - harder "to tell whether MIT is a university with many government research labs appended to it, or a cluster of government research labs with a very good educational institution attached."

guided missile electronics, aeronautical engineering, shock waves and blast patterns.


Westinghouse and General Electric - first US nuclear submarine. Hyman Rickover,

1955 SSN Nautilus,

H-bomb 1954,

Soviets 1955.

Japanese fishing boat "Lucky Dragon"


Eisenhower's foreign and military policy "new Look" – fiscal conservative - "more bang for the buck."

doctrine of "massive retaliation" - "simply means the ability to blow hell out of them in a hurry if they start anything". 

Philosophy of "deterrence",


1940s, 1950s & 1960s.  Dept of Defense & Atomic Energy Commission tests deliberately exposing to radioactivity. 

atmospheric testing of bomb,

cancer & leukemia - "Downwinders". 


1963 Cuban Missile Crisis;

1956 movie "The Day the World Ended"

1959 "On the Beach";

backyard bomb shelter, Popular Mechanics

pamphlet "How to Survive an Atomic Bomb": "After an explosion, things are probably going to look different when you get outside.  If the bomb hit within a mile and half of where you are, things are going to look very different." 

Civil defense films - "duck and cover" drills.


1953 "Atoms for Peace" program;

1957 first civilian nuclear power plant - Shippingport, Penn.

The Atomic Age Opens - "power too cheap to meter";

1954, American Chemical Society.

"artificial suns", "No baseball game will be called off on account of rain in the era of atomic energy, no city will experience a winter traffic jam because of snow; summer resorts will be able to guarantee the weather, and artificial suns will make it as easy to grow corn indoors as on the farm."

factories & homes with nuclear "power plant the size of a typewriter."

Ford Motor Company Advanced Design Studio: 1950s "Nucleon" car, "Each cylinder will contain a complete atomic-power unit.  By recovering its own exhaust steam, such a nuclear car could travel without stopping until the tires wore out."

Air Force nuclear-powered bomber - General Electric, Pratt & Whitney:

"limited in range not by fuel, but only by sandwiches & coffee for crew".


"Project Plowshare" 1957 & 1962, plans harbors in Alaska.

"It is the policy of the US that the development & use of atomic energy shall be directed toward improving the standard of living & cementing world peace". 


Cold War military spending.

1950s prosperity;

US 6% world's population; over 33% world's goods & services.

1940-1960 US GNP more than doubled, as did income.

consumerism - credit card.

"There never was a country more fabulous than America.  She sits on top of the world.  Half of the world's wealth and almost two-thirds of the world's machines are concentrated in American hands."


General Motors – “what was good for GM was good for the country." 

1949 first all-new postwar models. 

1952 over 52 million cars in US;

doubled by 1972. 

"the swept-wing look"

GM designer Harley Earl - tail fins.  

GM's Styling Section - clay models; annual model change;

investment in highways.

Eisenhower impressed by Autobahns. 

1956 National System of Interstate & Defense Highways Act. 

Disneyland 1955; shopping malls.



Bill Levitt:

180 houses/week.

"No man who owns his own house & lot can be a Communist, he has too much to do." 

simple, mass-production building;

27 teams of specialized labor;


"This is Levittown.  All yours for $58 [down].  You're a lucky fellow, Mr Veteran.  Uncle Sam & the world's largest builder have made it possible for you to live in a charming house in a delightful commuinty without having to pay for them with your eye teeth."

Levittown Long Island 17,000 houses holding 82,000 people, eight swimmming pools & five schools.

"little boxes on a hillside out of tickytacky & they all look the same".

1950, 83% of nat'l growth in suburbs. 

1970, more people in suburbs than cities.


Postwar baby boom. 

New homes - bigger household appliances. 

Kitchen debate 1959 - Nixon & Khrushchev exchange at world exhibition,

Advertising - Betty Furness, Westinghouse.


Dick & Maurice MacDonald - drive-in hot-dog stand 1937 - 80% of sales hamburgers,

standardizing preparation;

expansion Ray Kroc.

"Give Mom a Night off" - streamlining service.





1880s German patent.

"sight radio".

1926 Scottish inventor John Baird - first operational TV system;

BBC broadcasts 1929.

Philo T. Farnsworth - 1928 first all-electronic TV system, patent 1930 - never commercially successful. 

RCA (Radio Corporation of America) - Vladimir Zworykin - testing program 1930s, invest $13 million, president David Sarnoff to make tv "as much a part of our life" as radio.

cathode ray tube, invented Germany 1897.

1939 baseball game Princeton & Columbia.  

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 1941 agreed on tv standards - Nat'l Television System Committee set transmission speed;

1946 8,000 homes had tv sets - 1949 almost 1 million. 1952, 19 million sets in US.

1950 over 80 manufacturers of tv sets. 

color system on sale 1954 ($1000 for 21-inch set);

1972 over 50% US tv sets color.

Programming - radio performers jump to new medium - Jack Benny, "The Lone Ranger," "Dragnet," "Gunsmoke".

1963, majority get most news from TV -Vietnam War,

politics: 1952 Eisenhower.

TV situation comedies - Lucille Ball.

Criticism – advertising, violence, juvenile delinquency; Marshall McLuhan "the medium is the message". 

quiz show scandals. 1956 "21" - Herb Stempel vs. Charles Van Doren - Congressional investigation 1959,