Platformitis

Edward Luttwak

  • The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of Darpa, America’s Top Secret Military Research Agency by Annie Jacobsen
    Little, Brown, 560 pp, £12.99, September 2015, ISBN 978 0 316 34947 5

The development of a nuclear explosive device and two air-deliverable fission bombs by the Manhattan Engineering District of the US Army Corps of Engineers cost $1.845 billion, equivalent to the cost of a mere nine days of war. A much happier, and infinitely cheaper piece of research that also turned out to have world-historical impact was the development of a digital network between computers with TCP/IP communications protocols, better known as the internet. When the student-programmer Charley Kline sent the first instantaneous message (you had to print it out to keep it) on 29 October 1969, he inaugurated a new era; some months later Ray Tomlinson invented the first email program, using an @ address where such messages could linger.

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