[ih] ARPANET and Apollo 11
galmes at tamu.edu
Thu Mar 12 08:19:26 PDT 2015
The coincidence of 1969 as Apollo 11 and the ARPAnet is indeed
Your question could be taken (at least) two different ways.
First, which was the greater human/cultural accomplishment/achievement?
Second, which had the greater historical impact/consequences?
The second seems easier to me: the ARPAnet/Internet has had huge
(mostly positive) impact on so many aspects of modern life -- economy,
culture, technology. No need to elaborate in this circle.
The first is tougher.
Just yesterday, in conversation with a friend, we noted that
President Kennedy had, in his 1961 speech at Rice University, challenged
the country to put a man on the moon (and safely return them) by the end
of the decade. Eight and a fraction years later it was done, and in
spectacular fashion. If our national leaders were to challenge us to
attempt to repeat this today, could we do it? This mixes so many
notions of national solidarity/will and the cohesiveness of our (US)
society with the normal technical/economic issues, but it would be quite
My hunch is that future folks will consider the ARPAnet and say
"cool" and "big impact", and they'll look back on Apollo and say "very
On 3/12/15 9:35 AM, Noel Chiappa wrote:
> So I was sitting here, not really up to working, and idly watching The History
> Channel, and there was a documentary about Apollo 11 on. They had a number of
> people (including Walter Cronkite) talking about what they thought it meant,
> Several said something about how it was the greatest accomplishment of the
> century, etc (it certainly was an amazing accomplishment - looking back on it,
> it's completely amazing that they managed to do it with 1960s technology -
> although winning WWII was an even greater effort, I'm quite sure), and one
> said that when people look back at the 20th Century, centuries from now,
> that's the thing they are likely to think was the most significant event of
> the century.
> It suddenly struck me that something else happened in 1969 - that was the year
> the ARPANET was turned on. Given that the ARPANET gave birth to the Internet,
> and the impact the computer networking has had on the world (admittedly, in
> tandem with the development of the personal computer), I wonder if in the long
> run, landing on the Moon will really be seen as more significant than that?
> Odd how two such major things, long-term-historically speaking, happened in
> the same year!
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