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Thursday, July 02, 2009


I've been reading 1959: The Year Everything Changed by my good friend (and Slate columnist) Fred Kaplan. The '50's is sort of an underserved period in popular history. We think of it as white bread, surburban, conformist, a period of unchallenged American dominance. But there was a lot of turmoil under the covers. The Beat Poets were the '50's, and jazz was going haywire, and the first mass market computers were coming in. Oh, and the modern Civil Rights movement really started up in the '50's. Meanwhile everyone was living in serious fear that there would be an all-out nuclear war.

Fred's written an expansive survey of all that, going into both the roots and ramifications of a whole slew of major events that happened in or around 1959. If you're speccing a MAD MEN, you might want to check it out to get a sense of the world the show lives in. Or, you know, because it's just interesting.

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2 Comments:

ha, it was not the "first mass market computer" (that's 20 years late, but the microchip, which would allow them 20 years later

http://www.slate.com/id/2220752/

By Blogger frederic, at 2:28 PM  

According to the book, the IBM 1041 was the first computer available commercially to e.g. businesses. So "mass market" isn't right, but I'm not sure what the right term would be. I guess the first "commercially available"?

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 4:13 PM  

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