The 20th century witnessed some of the most important technological advances in human history. The United State is the country that made the most significant technological contributions in the 20th century. Many of the advances were made in the immediate post Second World War years. The US emerged from devastating WWII as a rich and powerful nation.
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The government was committed to promoting scientific progress in the country during the postwar years. Some significant technologies were therefore developed from 1946 to 1960. This paper will discuss some of these technologies and the people involved in their development. It will also highlight their importance and the impact they had on the US and the rest of the world.
A major postwar period advancement was in the field of aviation. While the first aircraft had been flown in 1903 the industry had not witnessed any significant advances. This changed when the American aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney designed the first efficient jet engine in 1948. The J57 engine was conceived by Perry Pratt, who was the head of the technical and research center at the Pratt and Whitney Company. Vaclav (2010) declares that the J57 was the most significant postwar jet engine design.
It provided high thrust at low fuel consumption level making it ideal for commercial airlines. As a result of the Pratt & Whitney design, the first turbojet airliner was commissioned in 1958 and it was able to make transatlantic flights in record time. Turbojet airlines led to an increase in air traffic as they increased the quality of air travel and decreased the cost of flights (Brooks, 1967).
In the US, technology made the airline industry self-sufficient as more people traveled by air. International trade benefited since jet-powered planes could cheaply carry higher load capacities for long distances. The tourism industry also received a boost since more people could now afford intercontinental travel.
Another significant technology was in the electronics field. US scientists invented the transistor which had a major impact in electronics. The transistor was developed in the post-war years at the Bell Lab. A major figure involved in the development was Mervin Kelly from the Bell Labs. He recognized that a transistor made from a semiconductor could solve the problem that the telecommunications industry was facing in its efforts to amplify signals across great distances.
Operational transistors became available in 1948 and they were mass produced for various civilian and military uses. The first major use of the transistor was in transistor radios, which were produced in 1953. These radios allowed Americans to conveniently receive news and entertainment from their local radio stations.
US companies were also able to use technology to create more powerful computers (Ross, 2003). The transistor had significant implications in the world. The Japanese capitalized on this invention to mass-produce radios that were sold all over the world. These transistor radios changed the world by making it easy to instantly disperse news to a large segment of the population.
The US underwent significant changes in the postwar period of 1946 to 1960. This paper set out to investigate some of the technological changes witnessed in this period. It began by observing that the US emerged from WWII as a prosperous nation. It then noted that the airline industry and the electronics industry underwent profound changes during this time. These changes affected not only American citizens but also the global community which benefited greatly from these American inventions.
Brooks, P., W. (1967). The development of Air transport, Journal of Transport Economics and Policy 1(2), 163-183.
El-Sharkawi, M. (2011). Electric Energy: An Introduction. Boston: CRC Press.
Ross, G. (2003). Cold War America, 1946 to 1990. NY: Infobase Publishing
Vaclav, S. (2010). Energy Transitions: History, Requirements, Prospects. NY: ABC-CLIO.