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Making a World of Difference: Engineering Ideas into Reality (2014)

Chapter: 1964 Dawn of the Digital Age

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Suggested Citation:"1964 Dawn of the Digital Age." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Making a World of Difference: Engineering Ideas into Reality. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18966.
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Suggested Citation:"1964 Dawn of the Digital Age." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Making a World of Difference: Engineering Ideas into Reality. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18966.
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Suggested Citation:"1964 Dawn of the Digital Age." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Making a World of Difference: Engineering Ideas into Reality. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18966.
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power lines brought millions of Americans in rural communities literally out of the “dark ages.” None of those advances happened by chance. In response to public demand, public policy, and an Dawn of the Digital Age intrinsic creative drive, engineers created the infrastruc- ture essential to the health, prosperity, and security of the American people—not only for electrification, By the mid-1960s, thanks to the work of engineers in the decades just sanitation, and water supply and distribution, but also for automobiles, before and after World War II, Americans were accustomed to many highways, refrigeration, air-conditioning, aviation, high-performance conveniences in daily life. Tap water was safe to drink. Electric power materials, and much, much more. Nor did progress stop there. As would was reliable and affordable. And the family could take its summer road become clear in the latter part of the 20th century, engineering innova- trip on the new interstate highway system—including bridges, tunnels, tions between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s, many driven by Cold War rest stops for gas and food, and standardized signage—that connected national security concerns and the Department of Defense, were quietly an ever-growing number of cities and towns from coast to coast. laying the foundation for scores of advances that Americans in the 21st Today these conveniences are so commonplace that we think century would take for granted—advances in computers, communica- about them only when there’s a problem—the power is out, there’s tions, and health care, among other fields. a water main break, or two lanes on a bridge are closed for repairs. In 1964, glimmers of the changes that would transform American But when they first occurred, these advances and innovations had a society were beginning to enter public awareness. Even as nuclear arms profoundly transformative effect on the nation and on individuals and deployed by the United States and the Soviet Union in the ongoing families. To cite just a couple of statistics: by the 1930s, the creation Cold War loomed large, peaceful uses of atomic energy were emerging. of sewage sanitation systems and public supplies of clean drinking The first nuclear power plants in the United States came online in the water had virtually eliminated the spread of waterborne diseases like late 1950s; the use of nuclear medicine procedures for diagnostics and cholera and typhoid. Combined with other public health advances treatment, which had begun in the 1930s, expanded in the 1960s. such as vaccination programs, antibiotics, and a safer food supply, Another recent invention, the laser, would soon demonstrate its value those crucial improvements in sanitation and water supply helped to health care and fiber-optic communications. And while the Air Force increase the average life expectancy in the United States by 50 was using room-size mainframe computers to process data from percent—from 47 years to 70 between 1900 and 1960. (By compari- far-flung radar stations and guard against attacks by Soviet bombers, son, average life expectancy since the mid-1960s has increased only the introduction of much smaller and more versatile computing about 12 percent.) Similarly, by the 1940s, a few years after the machines was about to alter life in the United States and the world at establishment of the Rural Electrification Administration in 1935, 800 large forever. A new era was dawning—a digital age that would rural electric cooperatives had been formed and 350,000 miles of transform how we lived, worked, and communicated. 4 Making a World of Difference

ENIAC (right) ran on nearly 18,000 vacuum tubes and needed a staff to plug in thousands of wires to set or change its program. With the advent of the transistor (far right), vacuum tubes became obsolete and computers began to shrink. Electronics: Smaller, Faster, Cheaper I n the late 1940s and 1950s, electronic computers were still enormous and enormously asked to develop a replacement for vacuum expensive. They were the province of large institutions—governments, big corporations, tubes, which were not only unreliable power universities, and especially the military—that could afford to buy them, build cooled rooms hogs but also could not pick up the ultrahigh- large enough to house them, and hire the operators to make them work. In 1946, a behemoth frequency radio waves needed for AT&T’s named ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was unveiled at the University of transcontinental telephone system. Two days Pennsylvania. It weighed 30 tons, occupied a room 30 feet by 50 feet, and operated with nearly before Christmas 1947, after a month of intense 18,000 bulky, power-hungry vacuum tubes that frequently burned out. Commissioned to produce experimentation, the team presented their artillery firing tables so gunners in the field could adjust their aim as needed, ENIAC could bosses at Bell Labs with the transistor (above). perform in just 30 seconds calculations that used to take 12 hours on a hand calculator. The transistor generated very little heat and was both dependable and tiny—charac- Powerful as it was, ENIAC had limitations. For to build these machines. In 1947, a revolutionary teristics that would lead to a phenomenal one thing, this computer had only enough engineering advance emerged from AT&T Bell miniaturization of complex circuitry, paving the memory to handle the numbers involved in Labs that would start society on the path to the way for virtually every electronic device we rely the current computation; its instructions, or current era of both hyper-fast supercomputers on today. For their monumental “researches on program, had to be wired into the circuitry. So, and the ubiquitous smartphone. semiconductors and their discovery of the tran- changing the program meant someone had to This innovation—a device based on sistor effect,” Bardeen, Shockley, and Brattain spend several days unplugging and replugging solid-state semiconductor materials that could shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956. thousands of wires to enter the changes and both amplify an electrical signal and turn it on Within a few years, engineers were us- then test the new settings. and off—was the result of a brilliant collabora- ing transistors to produce small devices that Even as ENIAC was coming online, engi- tion among John Bardeen, William B. Shockley, amplified sound, such as transistorized hearing neers elsewhere were exploring a different way and Walter H. Brattain. The team had been aids and pocket-size transistor radios. By the Engineering Ideas into Reality 5

The elegant CDC 6600, with its plus-sign shaped panels, held the supercomputer speed record from 1964 to 1969. A SLICE OF LIFE Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor, a Way Back in pioneering firm in California’s Silicon the Pre-Digital Age Valley. In 1989, Kilby and Noyce would Although many large businesses, universities, and be awarded the first Charles Stark governments in the early 1960s used computers to Draper Prize for Engineering, the keep track of payroll, print checks, and manage large National Academy of Engineering’s databases for research, such machines were far from (NAE’s) highest award, for “their in- commonplace in ordinary households. A high school dependent co-invention of the mono- student in 1964 would prepare class assignments on a lithic (meaning formed from a single manual typewriter. Secretaries making multiple copies crystal) integrated circuit, better of documents typed with carbon paper and painstak- known as the semiconductor micro- ingly corrected errors with a white “liquid paper” cor- chip.” Robert Noyce died in 1990, but recting fluid. The latest thing for taking snapshots was in 2000 Jack Kilby was awarded half an “instant” camera that contained self-developing of that year’s Nobel Prize in Physics film and produced an image—after several minutes. If mid-1960s, as transistor design and manufactur- “for his part in the invention of the integrated you wanted to send the photo to someone, you had ing improved, computer engineers used them to circuit.” (The other half of the prize was shared to put it in an envelope, stick on a postage stamp, and build a new generation of supercomputers, like by Zhores I. Alferov and Herbert Kroemer “for mail it through the U.S. Postal Service. Telephones had Control Data Corporation’s CDC 6600. Designed developing semiconductor heterostructures for rotary dials and no “call waiting.” If the teenager in the by Seymour Cray, the CDC 6600 was almost high-speed- and opto-electronics.”) house were on the line, a caller just had to try again three times faster than the next fastest machine The integrated circuit squeezed multiple later. “Leaving a message” meant getting through to of its day, the IBM 7030 Stretch. Despite being transistors, wiring, and other components of an a live person who had to write the message on a piece phenomenally fast and much more reliable and electronic circuit onto a single silicon chip using of paper and put it somewhere for the intended recipi- efficient than ENIAC, the CDC 6600 was still a photographic techniques to reduce the circuit ent. Oh, and when the phone rang? You actually had huge machine with a huge price tag. At $7 to design to a tiny imprint, which was then printed to answer it to find out who was calling.  $10 million apiece, it was not something your on a wafer the size of a baby’s fingernail. average business, and certainly not your aver- Integrated circuits produced in the 1960s were age consumer, could afford. essential to early aerospace projects such as The crucial engineering advance that the Minuteman missile and the Apollo program, brought computers out of large institutions and which both needed lightweight digital com- into much wider use was the integrated circuit, puters for their inertial guidance systems. This developed independently in the late 1950s by early government support allowed integrated- Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments and Robert circuit makers to refine manufacturing methods 6

and lower costs enough to enter the industrial close to the mark for decades. “Moore’s Law” Fortran and, eventually, the consumer markets. is still used today as a standard for measuring (FORmula TRANslating System) As production costs came down, the industry progress—a testament to the creativity was developed in the mid-1950s by an IBM average price per integrated circuit dropped and ingenuity of engineers focused on improv- team led by John Backus. “Much of my from $50 in 1962 to $2.33 in 1968, even as the ing both performance and cost.) work has come from being lazy,” Backus number of transistors on a chip skyrocketed. In Computers as we know them would not told Think, the IBM employee magazine, in 1979. 1965 Gordon Moore—who worked with Noyce exist, of course, without the ingenuity of the “I didn’t like writing programs, and so, when I was at Fairchild Semiconductor and later joined him programmers and software engineers who working on the IBM 701 [an early computer], writing as cofounder of Intel Corporation—predicted created the programming languages, operat- programs for computing missile trajectories, I started that computing capacity, based on the number ing systems, and applications that make the work on a programming system to make it easier to of transistors packed into a chip, would double machines useful in so many different ways. write programs.” Designed for scientific and engineer- every year. The race toward ever smaller yet High-level programming languages like Fortran, ing applications, some version of Fortran is still used ever more powerful computers was off and COBOL, and BASIC were instrumental in mak- in intensive supercomputing tasks such as weather running. (Updating his forecast in 1975, Moore ing programming faster and considerably less and climate modeling, computational fluid dynamics, predicted that chip capacity would double tedious than hand-coding in the ones and zeros and structural engineering. John Backus was awarded every two years, an estimate that remained of machine language. the NAE’s Draper Prize in 1993 for “development of FORTRAN, the first widely used, general purpose, high-level computer language.” From a few transistors in the first integrated circuit (left), the number of components COBOL crammed on a microchip doubled every two (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) years, as predicted by Gordon Moore (shown seated, below, with Robert Noyce, one of was created by a committee of computer the inventors of the integrated circuit). In manufacturers and their clients, notably the 1995, University of Pennsylvania engineering government. A key member of the commit- students designed “ENIAC on a chip”— recreating the 30-ton ENIAC’s circuits with tee was the indomitable programmer Rear 250,000 transistors on a chip only 8 mm Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, who had long believed square (below, left). that programming languages should be usable by people who were neither mathematicians nor computer experts. The goal was to create a language suited to large-scale data processing such as for payrolls, bud- gets, and inventory—and to have programs that could run on different makes of machines. This compatibility was especially important to the Department of Defense (DOD), which bought computers from different manu- facturers. In December 1960, the same COBOL program ran successfully on both a Remington Rand UNIVAC II and an RCA 501. COBOL would dominate government and business data processing for decades and is still used for millions of banking transactions today. Engineering Ideas into Reality 7

BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) was invented in 1963 at Dartmouth College by mathematicians John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz (below) as a teaching tool for undergraduates. Kemeny and Kurtz had the radical idea that under- grads—science and nonscience majors alike—could learn about computing by actually writing their own programs. But first they needed a more user-friendly language. The language they created used simple English words such as PRINT, SAVE, and RUN. To get the computer to write something you merely typed PRINT, followed by the words to print in quotes. Kemeny wanted the language to be so easy that a complete novice “could use it after three hours of training.” Versions of BASIC became popular with the advent of minicomputers such as Digital Equipment Corporation’s PDP line in the mid-1960s and then exploded with the introduction of home computers in the mid-1970s. (Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote a version of BASIC for the MITS [Micro Instrumentation Telemetry System] Altair and then went on to form Microsoft—and the rest, as they say, is history.)  THE MINICOMPUTER in a sales report: “Here is the latest minicom- Affordable, Compact, puter activity in the land of miniskirts as I drive and User-Friendly around in my [Austin] Mini Minor.” To promote In 1965, Digital Equipment Company intro- the machine’s small size, the company photo- duced the PDP-8—eighth in a revolutionary line graphed it in the back of a Volkswagen Beetle of interactive computers that focused on the (above). Soon the PDP-8 was at work in many user’s experience rather than solely on machine settings, from controlling the baseball score- efficiency. Sold for $18,000 and available in a board at Boston’s Fenway Park (opposite, top) desktop configuration, the PDP-8 was the first and the lights at a New York theater to doing commercially successful minicomputer, afford- signal analysis in physics labs and monitoring able for many midsize businesses and small instruments in a hospital operating room (oppo- laboratories. A Digital executive in England, site, bottom). In 1970, the PDP-8/E came along, where small cars and short skirts were in fashion priced at only $6,500, with a configuration that in the 1960s, was credited with coining that term allowed devices such as teletypewriters and line

Harnessing Light: The Power laser was only the first of a of Lasers and Fiber Optics plethora of types that engi- neers went on to devise. In T he availability of electricity lit the world through the decades since, more than incandescent light bulbs in the early 20th century, but 50,000 engineering patents it wasn’t until the 1960s and later that the marvels of have been issued for devices intense laser light and fiber optics were realized. Laser and techniques involving light depends on the phenomenon of stimulated emission of lasers. In 1964, Townes was radiation, theorized by Albert Einstein in 1917. Several decades awarded a Nobel Prize for his would pass before the engineering expertise of Charles Townes, role in developing the maser Arthur Schawlow, and Theodore Maiman turned the theory of and also for conceptualizing stimulated emission into a creation that would serve society. its super-adaptable successor, the laser. Townes was both a physicist and a skilled Lasers proved useful to the nation’s se- engineer. During World War II, he had worked curity as range finders for guns and as target as an engineer at Bell Labs, developing designators for guided weapons. They became guidance systems using microwaves. He later equally useful in a host of nonmilitary applica- credited “my experience in both engineering tions, from reading digital data on barcodes and physics” as crucial to the advances he and digitized music on CDs to increasing the made. In 1954, Townes and colleagues at capacity of landlines to handle both phone Columbia University built the first maser calls and the growing digital traffic of computer (microwave amplification by stimulated networks. Beginning in the 1970s, amazing emission of radiation). In 1958, Townes and breakthroughs in the manufacture of low-loss Schawlow of Bell Labs (who also happened to optical fiber by AT&T and Corning would make be Townes’s brother-in-law) theorized that possible the fiber-optic cables that form the masers could be made to work at optical and backbone of today’s information grid. printers to be connected to it. The PDP-8’s infrared wavelengths and proposed a way to In health care, lasers greatly advanced influential successor, the PDP-11, would generate a strong beam by amplifying the methods of treating disorders of the eye. As become the go-to hub for computer “time- stimulated emission in a cavity bounded with early as November 1961, 18 months after the sharing” at universities and the platform for mirrors. In May 1960, Maiman, of Hughes demonstration of the device, physicians used a developing the widely used C programming Research Laboratories, a division of Hughes ruby laser to treat a retinal tumor. In 1964, language and the UNIX operating system. Aircraft Company, used that mirror technique to William Bridges of Hughes Research Labs PDP stood for “programmed data produce the first laser (light amplification by devised an argon laser to reattach detached processor,” a term chosen to avoid the ste- the stimulated emission of radiation), by retinas, a condition which, if left untreated, can reotype that “computers” were too big, too energizing chromium atoms in ruby crystals. result in blindness. This was a major improve- expensive, and required a big staff. The PDP Many skeptical scientists in 1960 consid- ment over cauterization with extreme heat, the line’s interactivity inspired programmers to ered the laser “a solution looking for a prob- original treatment for a detached retina. Laser create not only early text-editing and music lem,” Townes noted. “But by bringing together operations would eventually save the sight of programs but also games, including Space- optics and electronics, lasers opened up vast millions of people with diabetic retinopathy war!—the first computer video game.  new fields of science and technology.” The ruby and correct the vision of millions more.  Engineering Ideas into Reality 9

The World Above and Beyond: Space Exploration P erhaps no engineering achievement of the 20th century was more inspiring to the American people than the moment that Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969. Everyone old enough to have been awake and aware that day can remember where they were when they saw the event on television or heard it on the radio. It was both a proud step for the nation whose flag Armstrong planted on the moon and a “giant leap for mankind,” as he put it. Getting the crew of Apollo 11 to the moon’s surface and back home to Earth was an incredible engineering undertaking. When the Soviets launched the first satellite, Sputnik I, in October 1957—beating the first U.S. satellite by several months—Americans were shocked. At the height of the Cold War, it was clear that rockets powerful enough to lift satellites into outer space could also target distant cities with nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Sputnik alerted Americans that their country did not lead The Multi-Talented Laser in every area of science and engineering and needed to reassess its Essential instrument for skin and eye surgery, precision machining policies and priorities. The realization led to a significant boost in tool, booster for fiber optic communications—the laser is all this federal support for scientific education and technological research. and more. But it is most familiar as the barcode scanner at grocery In May 1961, a month after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and other retail stores where it revolutionized the checkout line. became the first man in space—chalking up another “first” for the Soviets—President John Kennedy committed the United States to “achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” Although one ob- jective of that program was to assert American engineering superior- ity over the Soviets, reaching for the moon inspired humanity with a quest that transcended the Cold War. 10 Making a World of Difference

A photograph of Earth, taken from lunar orbit on Christmas Eve 1968, gave humanity a new perspective on our planet. A few months later, Neil Armstrong took a “giant leap for mankind”—and then photographed Buzz Aldrin (far right) stepping onto the Moon’s surface after him. Designing the spacecraft and methods of module on the moon, linking it again with the tors that the system would be ready “before propulsion, communication, and life support service and command modules for the return you need it.” One very big piece of good luck: needed to achieve this audacious goal ranks as trip, and achieving the proper reentry angle to the miniaturization of computers had pro- one of the great systems engineering achieve- Earth’s atmosphere. gressed sufficiently to allow Draper’s team to ments of all time. Everything from develop- Professor Charles Stark Draper of Mas- produce equipment small enough to install in ing materials for the heat shield to withstand sachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took modules where space was tight. Without such temperatures greater than 5000°F during charge of developing the guidance system. computerized guidance, President Kennedy’s reentry into Earth’s atmosphere to designing With the myriad challenges involved in mak- goal would have been unattainable. the astronauts’ space suits was an enormous ing sure that gyroscopes and accelerometers With each launch of an Apollo mission, the engineering challenge. The mission also needed could function reliably and accurately in space, space program ignited the public imagination. a computerized inertial guidance system to Draper knew his job would be a race against On Christmas Eve 1968, seven months before determine how much rocket thrust to apply for time, but he promised National Aeronautics the moon landing, Apollo 8 astronaut William critical maneuvers such as landing the lunar and Space Administration (NASA) administra- Anders took the famous Earthrise image that Engineering Ideas into Reality 11

With the launch of observational satellites in the would become a moving reminder that Earth to DOD, which used it 1960s (mosaic of ESSA-5 was the precious inheritance and responsibility for, among other things, images, top), of all humanity, “to be handled with utmost communicating with meteorologists care,” as Anders put it. commanders in Vietnam. were able to view weather systems The lunar landings ended in 1972, but Weather forecasters over large areas other space-related activities would continue, gained invaluable, life- of the planet and producing such long-term benefits for soci- saving tools with the spot storms in the making (NIMBUS ety as advances in robotics, solar power, and launch of TIROS-1, the image of Hurricane biomedical research. Perhaps the most familiar first weather satellite, on Alma in August space-based benefits from the 1960s and ’70s April 1, 1960, followed by 1966, bottom). are the multitude of satellites that bring us tele- the ESSA (Environmental vision broadcasts, up-to-the-minute weather Science Services Administration) satellites in data, and pinpoint navigation. February 1966, which provided cloud-formation Two American engineers—John Pierce of photography to the Weather Bureau’s National Bell Labs and Harold Rosen of Hughes Aircraft Meteorological Center. This global weather Company—developed key technologies in the satellite system transmitted thousands of 1950s and ’60s that made commercial commu- images back to Earth, enabling ground station nication satellites possible. Pierce calculated forecasts of weather patterns, including the precise power needed to transmit signals hurricanes. to satellites in various Earth orbits and de- In 1973, a multiservice Joint Program vised something called a traveling wave tube Office within DOD began developing a satel- amplifier, which enabled a satellite to receive, lite-based radio navigation system for deliver- amplify, and transmit radio signals. Rosen en- ing weapons precisely on target. The system gineered spin-stabilization technology to aim became operational for the military in the the satellite’s antennas for both receiving and mid-1980s, with a coarser version accessible to transmitting signals. In 1995 the two shared the public. In 2000, President Bill Clinton made the NAE’s Draper Prize “for development of access to more precise signals fully available communication satellite technology.” In Oc- to the general public. Today, along with similar tober 1964, Syncom 3, the first geostationary satellite systems launched by other nations, the communications satellite, relayed live televi- global positioning system, or GPS, helps guide sion broadcasts of the Tokyo Olympics. The civilians around the world to their destinations following year NASA turned the satellite over through a variety of GPS devices.  12 Making a World of Difference

The versatile and reliable Boeing 727 was the best- selling airliner in the world during the first 30 years of the jet age. Jet flights had a broad impact on American society, facilitating travel for tourism and business not only nationally but internationally as well. Up, Up, and Away W hile astronauts were blasting off for the moon in the 1960s, millions of people on Harold Martin of the University of Washington Earth also began soaring to new heights of their own. Carried by commercial jets to Boeing for summer “faculty internships.” that cruised at altitudes far above those of propeller-driven planes, air travelers Collectively, they created a method of structur- could avoid storms and enjoy safer, more comfortable flights. al analysis that Turner applied at Boeing using computers to perform the myriad calculations Hans von Ohain Two engineers who exceeding 500 miles per hour and airframes needed to predict real-world performance. in Germany (right) and had been on opposite strong enough to sustain the material fatigue That fruitful collaboration led to Clough’s Frank Whittle in sides during World caused by vibrations and many cycles of development a few years later of what he England (far right) War II developed the pressurizing (required for those not wearing named the finite element method (FEM). independently developed the jet engine indepen- oxygen masks) and depressurizing cabins. Clough formed a research group at UC jet engine, which dently and almost To ensure safety and avoid costly Berkeley that used FEM in a host of revolutionized simultaneously. Frank modifications after planes entered analytical and experimental activities, aviation. Whittle in England and production, engineers needed a from designing buildings and struc- Hans J. P. von Ohain in reliable method for determining in tures to withstand nuclear blasts or Germany later became advance whether their designs could earthquakes to analyzing structural good friends (in 1991, withstand the stresses of flight. M. Jon requirements for spacecraft and they were jointly awarded the Draper Prize for Turner, head of Boeing’s Structural deep-water offshore their work). Although not ready in time to af- Dynamics Unit, addressed that drilling. By revolu- fect the war, the turbojet engine revolutionized problem in the early 1950s tionizing the appli- aviation and the postwar world. by bringing civil engineer- cation of computer The new aircraft were a testament to the ing professors Ray Clough technologies in work of aeronautical engineers, who had to of the University of engineering, design wings sturdy enough to endure speeds California, Berkeley, and FEM con- 13

The World at Home: The Environmental Challenge T he American environmental movement—born in the late 1800s when naturalists like John Muir campaigned to protect wilderness areas—broadened in the mid-1900s as environmentalists drew attention to the far-reaching impact of pollution from a variety tinues to help engineers design to this day all of sources in the developing country. Much of the environmental damage stemmed sorts of durable, cost-effective structures. from the unforeseen consequences of solutions to earlier challenges. The pesticide DDT, for Meanwhile, Turner’s efforts at Boeing example, was so good at killing the insects that ravaged crops or transmitted diseases like contributed to the success of its renowned line malaria that the chemist who refined it in 1940, Paul Müller of Switzerland, won a Nobel Prize. of commercial jets, beginning in 1958 with the Not until 1962, when biologist Rachel Carson’s influential book Silent Spring appeared, did 707 and continuing in 1964 with the 727, which public attention in the United States focus on the hazardous side of DDT and other powerful could land on shorter runways and serve more pesticides. Sprayed over wide areas, these pesticides killed not only the targeted pests but airports. Equipped with three fuel-efficient tur- many beneficial insects as well. DDT also entered the food chain of birds and other animals, bofan engines, the 727 became the workhorse some of which were threatened with extinction as a result. In humans, a growing body of of commercial aviation and helped achieve a evidence linked DDT to breast cancer, diabetes, and impaired neurodevelopment in children. threefold increase in U.S. passenger air traffic in the ’60s. After a decade of considerable controversy, limits on air and water pollution. Engineering Jet flights had a broad impact on Ameri- DDT was banned in the United States in 1972. met the challenge of new emission standards can society, facilitating travel for tourism and Its use would also be discontinued in much of by developing new instruments to measure or business not only nationally but internationally the rest of the world, although, in the absence reduce pollutants and new methods to upgrade as well. As the cost of air travel came down, of an equally effective and inexpensive chemi- or replace inadequate technologies. more people took to the skies and the flight cal substitute, DDT would remain in limited use Sometimes the dangers of a particular paths of aircraft crisscrossing the globe seemed in countries where malaria is endemic. technological solution were suspected but to pull the continents closer together. By the On December 17, 1963, President Lyndon mostly ignored until research findings created end of the 1970s, an experience that had once Johnson signed into law the Clean Air Act of societal pressure for a different solution. Tetra- been out of reach for most ordinary Ameri- 1963, which set emissions standards for power ethyl lead, for example, was added to gasoline cans—so exclusive, in fact, that air travelers plants, steel mills, and other stationary sources, starting in the 1920s, to prevent a phenomenon actually dressed up for their flights (above)— and recommended emissions standards for in auto engines called knocking—sudden bursts became the way college students in jeans and vehicles, which would be established by law in of combustion that can damage engines and sneakers would go home for Thanksgiving.  1965. Over the next decade, with support from reduce fuel efficiency. Although lead poisoning both major parties, Congress placed further has been known since antiquity, and although 14 Making a World of Difference

In 1970, the first Earth Day was observed and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established. manufacturers of tetraethyl lead had learned on lead-based paint followed in 1978.) in the 1920s that without strict controls in fac- Another example of environmental gains tories workers would go insane and die of lead achieved because of public pressure—and the poisoning, it was not until the mid-1960s that ingenuity of engineers in response to society’s more precise lab techniques could calculate the demands—began on June 22, 1969, when a impact of lead exposure on human beings. big oil slick in Cleveland’s notoriously polluted Credit for engineering those techniques Cuyahoga River caught fire and damaged belongs to geochemist Clair Patterson, who in two bridges before firefighters extinguished 1965 warned that leaded gasoline and other it. Fires on the Cuyahoga were common, but industrial products were exposing people to in this instance TIME magazine ran a photo of far greater concentrations of lead in air and the Cuyahoga in flames to illustrate the plight water than existed prehistorically. He found of the nation’s waterways, which it dubbed that concentrations of lead in modern hu- “America’s Sewage System.” The Cuyahoga fire man tissue were many times greater than in alarmed the public and boosted support for ancient human bones. Lead is now known to the environmental movement. In 1970, the first be hazardous in concentrations as low as 0.15 Earth Day was observed and the Environmental microgram per cubic meter of air, equivalent to Protection Agency (EPA) was established. Two less than one part per billion. Toxic to human years later Congress passed the Clean Water organs and tissues, lead also interferes with a Act, which protected rivers, estuaries, bays, and variety of physiological processes, including wetlands by regulating the discharge of pollut- development of the nervous system, which ants within the nation’s watersheds. means that children exposed to lead can suffer The environmental movement and the The June 1969 fire permanent learning and behavior disorders. laws arising from it would provide impetus to on Cleveland’s Patterson’s findings led to the virtual elimi- formation of a new discipline, environmental Cuyahoga river nation of lead in gasoline in the mid-1970s be- engineering, which had long been a concern (top), helped spur the environmental cause society declared that the cost to human of the civil engineers who developed water movement and the health and the environment vastly outweighed and sewage systems essential to public health. Clean Water Act. the benefit provided by leaded gasoline. The Environmental engineering emerged as a dis- On the fire’s 40th anniversary (above) ban did not result in a loss of automotive tinct academic and professional field in the late the Cuyahoga was performance, however, thanks to engineering 1960s and ’70s as the need arose for creating sparkling. innovations such as redesigned engine valves solutions to environmental problems involving and safer additives for gasoline. (A federal ban infinitesimal amounts of pollutants.  Engineering Ideas into Reality 15

Hal Anger, of the Radiation Laboratory, developed the Anger scintillation camera To Your Health: The Engineering to detect radiation for medical diagnosis. of Medical Imaging and Therapies T Dr. Raymond he 1960s saw a flowering of medical engineering advances that built on work during Damadian (below, and just after World War II. Nuclear medicine imaging, for example, uses radioisotope standing), one of the inventers of MRI, and tracers developed at the beginning of the war at MIT, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Dr. Laurence Minkoff and the University of California’s Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley (later Lawrence demonstrate a “super Berkeley Laboratory). Inserted into the bloodstream, the radiotracers accumulate in areas of magnet” that would soon be used to gain high chemical or metabolic activity, where they emit a small amount of radiation that can be information about the detected to reveal tumors and other disorders. In the 1950s, two methods were developed for interior of the body detecting this radiation for medical diagnosis—the Anger camera, developed by electrical without surgery. engineer Hal Anger at Berkeley’s Radiation Laboratory, and positron emission tomography (PET), developed by Gordon Brownell, head of the Physics Research Laboratory at Massachu- setts General Hospital (MGH), and William Sweet, Chief of the Neurosurgical Service at MGH. Medical ultrasonography, which doesn’t require from arthritis. Also in that decade engineer the use of radiotracers, had its origins in the Godfrey Hounsfield, of Britain’s EMI Laboratory, wartime technology known as SONAR (SOund and South African–born American engineer Navigation And Ranging). It involves sending out Allan Cormack of Tufts University indepen- pulses of sound and recording “echoes” to pro- dently devised 3-D imaging methods known duce images that allow doctors to detect tumors, as X-ray computer-assisted tomography (CAT). lesions, and other abnormalities in the heart and CAT scans would become the primary tool for other organs as well as in tendons, muscles, and diagnosing brain and spinal disorders. blood vessels. By the mid-1960s, ultrasound was These mid-century advances in medi- becoming a familiar tool in obstetrics to check cal imaging were in good part the product of the health of a fetus in the womb. digital engineering that allowed the transla- Other now-familiar medical engineer- tion of voltage signals into words and images ing tools came along in the 1970s. Magnetic displayed on computer monitors. By the 1980s resonance imaging, or MRI, uses a magnetic field many doctors used such computerized scans to and radio waves to create detailed images to reassure patients or diagnose ailments prompt- help diagnose a variety of problems, including ly, without the need for invasive diagnostic aneurysms, disorders of the eye, damage from surgery. By enabling the early detection and heart attack or heart disease, and joint disorders treatment of many types of cancer as well as 16 Making a World of Difference

brain disorders, heart and vascular problems, ing World War II before moving to the United and other diseases, these scans continue to States to work on artificial organs. Beginning in save countless lives. 1967 he led a long-term effort by doctors, sci- Sometimes an engineering solution is entists, and engineers at the University of Utah needed to regulate, repair, or replace an ailing to produce the first permanent artificial heart. heart or other organ. In 1957, electrical engineer In 1982 an artificial heart designed by Dr. Rob- Earl Bakken developed the first wearable pace- ert Jarvik in conjunction with Kolff and other maker, a device that regulates the heartbeat by team members was implanted in a patient near applying imperceptibly small electric impulses death, who survived for 112 days. With contin- to heart muscles. Bakken’s battery-powered, ued engineering improvements, artificial hearts, handheld pacemaker allowed patients in prolonged patients’ lives for a few years until hospitals to move around. The first long-lasting they could receive natural heart transplants. implantable pacemaker was invented a couple Kolff was awarded the 2003 Russ Prize for of years later by electrical engineer Wilson “pioneering work on artificial organs, beginning Greatbatch, who miniaturized his device using with the kidney, thus launching a new field that silicon transistors. Greatbatch teamed up with is benefitting the lives of millions.” two surgeons, who experimented successfully Starting in the late 1960s, the combina- on animals before implanting one of his pace- tion of engineering and medicine became a makers in 1960 in a critically ill heart patient; potent academic program for creating innova- the patient lived for another 18 months with the tions that can save life, extend life, or improve device. In the early 1970s, Greatbatch replaced life. Biomedical engineering programs are now the mercury battery in his pacemakers with a widespread, with women making up nearly 40 durable lithium battery that could last percent of those earning degrees in that 10 years or more, reducing or elimi- field, the highest percentage in any en- Early pacemakers nating the need for frequent opera- gineering field other than environmental were bulky boxes of tions to replace the battery. In 2001 engineering. electronics that kept Bakken and Greatbatch shared the The impact of bioengineers has a patient tethered to the nearest electrical NAE’s inaugural Fritz J. and Dolores been enormous. They play a key role in outlet (above). In the H. Russ Prize “for independent de- making many of today’s breakthrough 1960s, an implantable velopment of the implantable drugs practicable, for example, and pacemaker developed by Wilson Greatbatch cardiac pacemaker.” advances in medical imaging and of the University People with kidney implantable medical devices of Buffalo (left) or heart disease are have dramatically changed returned heart patients’ freedom indebted to a gifted both diagnosis and treat- of movement. doctor who was ment for people who also an exceptional become injured or ill.  engineer. Dr. Willem Kolff, a Dutch-born Dr. Robert physician, devel- Jarvik and the oped the first kidney first permanent dialysis machine dur- artificial heart. 17

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Fifty years ago, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) was founded by the stroke of a pen when the National Academy of Sciences Council approved the NAE's articles of organization. Making a World of Difference commemorates the NAE anniversary with a collection of essays that highlight the prodigious changes in people's lives that have been created by engineering over the past half century and consider how the future will be similarly shaped. Over the past 50 years, engineering has transformed our lives literally every day, and it will continue to do so going forward, utilizing new capabilities, creating new applications, and providing ever-expanding services to people. The essays of Making a World of Difference discuss the seamless integration of engineering into both our society and our daily lives, and present a vision of what engineering may deliver in the next half century.

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