35th annual meeting (2008)

Victoria, Canada

[The meeting has ended – this page is for archival and informational purpose]

The 35th annual symposium of ICOHTEC took place in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, in 5-10 August 2008. the main theme was "Crossing Borders in the History of Technology"

Call for papers

Conference website (external)

Program (with links to abstracts)


Call for papers

14 January 2008 - Deadline for Early Decision for Proposals

3 March 2008 - Final Deadline for Proposals

This conference’s primary theme is the examination of how technology influences and is influenced by the interaction over various types of boundaries. These boundaries include the interaction between disciplines, theory and practice, scholarly schools, trades and professions, geographical areas, periods of time, cultures, technological and political systems, ethnic groups, and nations.

While open to all proposals dealing with the history of technology, the program committee suggests the following sub-themes for the consideration of session organizers and contributors:

• The exchange of ideas and transfer of technology in history

• The spread of technological theories over national borders

• The impact of international trade on technological development

• Globalization of technology

• Osmosis between science and technology

• Interaction between culture and technology

• Technologies of social mobility and gender

• Migration and social mobility in the history of technology

• Loyalty to traditions and the frenzy of novelties

• Technology and the zeitgeist

• Unrealized, utopian and science fiction technology

• Crossing the border between nature and technology

These sub-themes can easily be seen in a variety of topics, including technological systems, social construction of technology, cultural interface in the engineering profession, environmental awareness, design and aesthetic values in technology.

We urge contributors to consider organizing a full session of three or more papers. Individual paper submissions will, of course, be considered. It is also possible to propose papers unrelated to the general theme. They can be presented in a "Special Topics" sessions.

Note: Membership in ICOHTEC is not required to participate in the symposium.

Special features of the Symposium include the annual Mel Kranzberg Lecture by a distinguished historian of technology, the annual Jazz Night, banquet, receptions, a special plenary “Victoria Session on Technology and Colonialism” with leading international scholars, and several excursions from the British Columbia Forestry Discovery Centre to whale watching. For further information please, visit the conference website at: http://icohtec.uvic.ca/

INDIVIDUAL PAPER proposals must include: (1) a 250-word (maximum) abstract in English; and (2) a one-page CV. Abstracts should include the author’s name and email address, a short descriptive title, a concise statement of the thesis, a brief discussion of the sources, and a summary of the major conclusions. Please indicate if you intend your paper for one of the specified subthemes. In preparing your paper, remember that presentations are not full-length articles. You will have no more than 20 minutes to speak, which is roughly equivalent to 8 double-spaced typed pages. Contributors are encouraged to submit full-length versions of their papers after the conference for consideration by ICOHTEC’s journal ICON. If you are submitting a paper proposal dealing with a particular subtheme, please indicate this in your proposal. For more suggestions about preparing your symposium presentation, please consult the guidelines at the symposium web site: http://icohtec.uvic.ca/

SESSION proposals must include: (1) an abstract of the session (250 words maximum), listing the proposed papers and a session chairperson; (2) abstracts for each paper (250 words maximum); (3) a one-page CV for each contributor and chairperson. Sessions should consist of at least three speakers, and may include several sections of three speakers each, which might extend over more than one day.

Proposal submissions

Those who desire a quick response are requested to submit their paper / session proposals as soon as possible, but no later than Monday 14 January 2008. This option is meant especially for young scholars who need an early decision in order to apply for travel grants.

The final deadline for all submissions is Monday, 3 March 2008.

Please, submit proposals for papers and sessions via the website of the Victoria symposium at
http://icohtec.uvic.ca/proposals.php. The main Conference website is here: http://icohtec.uvic.ca/

If web access is unavailable, proposals may be sent by fax to ICOHTEC 2008 at: (1] 250-721-8772. Otherwise they may be sent via regular mail or courier, postmarked not later than 4 January 2008 for the first deadline or 22 February 2008 for the final deadline.

The mail address is:

Department of History
University of Victoria
P.O. Box 3045 STN CSC
Victoria, B.C. V8W 3P4

Courier packages should be addressed:

Department of History
University of Victoria
3800 Finnerty Rd.
Clearihue Building Room B245
Victoria, B.C V8W 3P4

All questions about the programme proposals should be submitted to the chair of the programme committee, Mats Fridlund at maf@dtv.dk . Queries about the conference venue should be made to icohtec@uvic.ca

Graduate students members of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) are eligible for travel support.
Go to: http://www.historyoftechnology.org/awards/icohtec_tg.html

Travel grants

ICOHTEC will be able to give - a limited number - of travel grants to young scholars predominantly from countries with “weak currencies”. These grants go up to 300 Euros and a commission of ICOHTEC will make the decisions.

What is necessary for the applicant is to send:

a. CV

b. list of publications,

c. list of academic qualifications (places and professors)

d. the abstract of the intended - and accepted - paper

e. name of a member of ICOHTEC who is able to give information about the applicant.

Decicions will be made until June 30th.

The grant will be given after the paper has been read.

All these information should be sent (by email) to my address: wolfhard.weber@rub.de no later than June 15, 2008 after the program committee has made a decision about acceptance or not.

No "double grant" with SHOT is possible.


Kranzberg Lecture
(Tuesday 17:30 Human and Social Development Building A240)

  • Robert Post: Invention and Enterprise: The Life and Times of Melvin Kranzberg

ICOHTEC 40th Anniversary Session
(Friday 11:00-12:15 Meeting Room Forestry Discovery Centre)
Chair: Wolfhard Weber

  • Angus Buchanan: From Cold War Peacemakers to Environmental Crusaders: The Development of ICOHTEC over Forty Years

  • Hans-Joachim Braun: Giant and Dwarf? The SHOT-ICOHTEC Relationship and Other Matters

  • Timo Myllyntaus: ICOHTEC: Today and Tomorrow

A1. The Social History of Military Technology I
(Wednesday 8:30-10:00 Arbutus/Queenswood Room)
Organizer: Barton C. Hacker, Smithsonian Institution and Michael Anton Budd, Salve Regina University
Chair: Barton C. Hacker, Smithsonian Institution

  • Dik Daso (National Air and Space Museum),Grunt, gallop, and guns to glory: Technological change and its impact on war and culture through Time

  • Hanna D. Lawson (Swansea University),Textiles in Greco-Roman Naval warfare

  • Ann M. Becker (State University of New York at Stony Brook),The Canadian campaign: An army “ruined with smallpox”

A2. The Social History of Military Technology II
(Wednesday 10.30-12.00 Arbutus/Queenswood Room)
Organizer: Barton C. Hacker, Smithsonian Institution and Michael Anton Budd, Salve Regina University
Chair: Margaret Vining, Smithsonian Institution

  • Michael Anton Budd, Was there a military industrial complex in the age of revolution and war? World war and technological change: Britain & France, 1755–1815

  • Matthew Ford, Trust and technology: Officer-man relations and the development of the British infantry

  • Barton C. Hacker, Art of war: Military technology in the First World War graphic arts

A3. The Social History of Military Technology III
(Wednesday 13.30-15.00 Arbutus/Queenswood Room)
Organizer: Barton C. Hacker, Smithsonian Institution and Michael Anton Budd, Salve Regina University
Chair: Barton C. Hacker, Smithsonian Institution

  • Lisa L. Ossian, The ‘robomb generation’: Children of the Second World War playing with very real military technology

  • Matitiahu Mayzel, War for the masses: technology, industrialization, and the social and ethnic expansion of the Red Army in the 1930s.

A4. Gunpowder
(Wednesday 15.30-17.00 Arbutus/Queenswood Room)
Organizer: Brenda June Buchanan, University of Bath
Chair: Dorotea Gucciardo

  • Brenda June Buchanan, Charcoal: ‘the largest single variable in the performance of Black Powder’ ?

  • Bert Hall, What Underlay Improvements in 18th-Century French Artillery?

  • Jan Kunnas, The agricultural basis of the Napoleonic Wars

  • Yoel Bergman, Paul Vieille’s recollections of his mid 1880’s experimental work

A5. Crossing the Skies I: Military Aviation Technology
(Thursday 8.30-10.00 Arbutus/Queenswood Room)
Chair: Peter Jakab

  • Jeremy Kinney, Aircraft Engines for the Great War: The Wright-Martin Corporation and the Hispano-Suiza Engine, 1916-1919

  • Shawn Cafferky, ‘Flying the Wire’: The Development of the Canadian Beartrap Haul-down System

  • Mike Tremblay, The Norden Bombsight and the Myth of Precision Bombing

A6.  Crossing the Skies II: Professional and Popular Aviation Culture
(Thursday 10.30-12.00 Arbutus/Queenswood Room)
Chair: Dik Daso

  • Peter Jakab, Embracing the Future: The Airplane and the Arts, 1903-1915

  • Roger Connor, Windmills and Air Flivvers – The Selling of Rotary Wing Aircraft 1930-1950

  • Matthew Chapman (University of Victoria), A Ruthless Education: The Formative Experiences of World War II Canadian Bomber Crews and the Founding of Post-War Aviation Culture

A7. For More Than Just the Love of Flying: Women Pilots Pushing Boundaries
(Thursday 13.30-15.00 Arbutus/Queenswood Room)
Organizer: Evelyn Zegenhagen, USHMM
Chair: Michael Neufeld, Smithsonian Institution,

  • Dorothy Cochrane, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Pilot and Literary Light in Aviation

  • Evelyn Zegenhagen, Hanna Reitsch and Melitta Schiller – Two German Women Test Pilots of the Nazi Era

  • François Le Roy, “The War of the Two Jacquelines:” French and American Women in Jet Aviation

A8. Exchanges over the Science-Technology Relationship
(Saturday 9:00-10.30 Arbutus/Queenswood Room)
Chair: Alexandre Herlea

A9. Technology Transfer: Knowledge Crossing Boundaries
(Saturday 11:00-12:30 Arbutus/Queenswood Room)
Chair: Roland Wittje

  • Christoph Rosol, Identifying with Radar: On the Origin of RFID

  • Vahur Mägi, Estonian Oil-shale Technology in Australia

  • Martha Ortega, Atoms for Peace:  nuclear technology transference to the ‘Third World’, Latin America between 1955 and 1968

B1. Political Machines I: Nationalizing Technologies
(Wednesday 8:30-10:00 Haro Room)
Chair: Peter Jakab

B2. Political Machines II: Colonializing Technologies
(Wednesday 10.30-12.00 Haro Room)
Chair: Susan Schmidt Horning

  • Maria Baez-Villasenor,Taming the prairies: Technological development and federal control in the American prairies during the second half of the nineteenth century

  • Alejandra Bronfman, Amateurs in the Tropics: Shortwave and the Waning Colonial State

  • Steven Serels, Acclimatization of Experts in Tropical Laboratories: Andrew Balfour, the Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratory and the Contemporary Study of ‘Medicine and the Colonies’

B3. Communicating culture: Mediating technologies
(Wednesday 13.30-15.00 Haro Room)
Chair: Susan Schmidt Horning

  • Mats Fridlund, Terrorism of the Word: Insurrectionary Print Technologies and the Origins of Modern Terrorism

  • Karen Freeze, Theater Technology under Communism: A Czechoslovak Export

  • Roman Artemenko, Adventures of Herbert Marshall McLuhan in Russia: From Stoned Pseudo-Prophet of Bourgeois Culture to Generation "Z" Tribal Idol

B4. Cultivating Technologies
(Wednesday 15.30-17.00 Haro Room)
Chair: Julie Wosk

  • (Kenny) Chun Wai Tang, The Tea Machine – Mechanizing the Traditional Tea Processing Industry in Late Imperial China

  • Susan Schmidt Horning, Channeling Sound: Technology, Control And Boundaries In The 1960s Recording Studio

B5. Electronic Technologies
(Thursday 8:30-10:00 Haro Room)
Chair: Mats Fridlund

  • Roland Wittje, The Tea Machine – Mechanizing the Traditional Tea Processing Industry in Late Imperial China

  • Vasily Borisov,To develop the domestic or to buy from abroad: the beginning of the electronic TV in USSR

B6. Medical Borderlands
(Thursday 10.30-12.00 Haro Room)
Chair: Lars Bluma

  • Dorotea Gucciardo, 'Nature's Tonic': Exploring the Technologies of Electric Medicine in Canada,1850-1920.

  • Yun-Csang Ghimn, Skin Deep – or Ultra-violet Diagnosis, an Ignored Technology

B7.  Crossing Spatial Borders I
(Thursday 13.30-15.00 Haro Room)
Chair: Nina Lerman

  • Geoffrey Swinney, Placing and materialising industry and technology – George Wilson (1818–1859) and the establishment of new spaces of intellectual endeavour

  • Lars Bluma, Cybernetic machines: or crossing the borders between nature, technology and society

B8. Visions of Technology I
(Saturday 9:00-10.30 Haro Room)
Chair: James Williams

  • Julie Wosk, Images of Technological Disasters

  • Nina Lerman, Jim Crow and the White Way: Race, Region, and Progress in Early Electrification

  • Christopher Gainor, The Avro Arrow and Canada’s Unrealized Dreams

B9. Visions of Technology II
(Saturday 11:00-12:30 Haro Room)
Chair: Julie Wosk

  • Paul Ceruzzi, The Early Development of Deep-Space Navigation: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Reality

  • Dimitrios Ziakkas and Aristotle Tympas, Building borders in the air: Technical protocols competition and international aviation route formation in the electronic era

C2. Technology encountering cultural values of everyday life I: Cultivating the Automobile
(Wednesday 10.30-12.00 Mackenzie/Sinclair Room)
Organizer: Timo Myllyntaus, University of Turku
Chair: TBD

  • Christopher Neumaier, The Demise of the Diesel Car in the US and its Rise in Europe, 1973–2006

  • Olle Hagman and Martin Bae Pedersen, Encouraging Environmental Driving:  The journey towards a definition of “Good” versus “Bad” cars in the Swedish system of subsidies and classifications

  • Riikka Jalonen, “I want to learn to change the tyres of my car!” The technical courses of the car for Finnish women in the 1970s

C3. Technology encountering cultural values of everyday life II: Gendering of Transportation
(Wednesday 13.30-15.00 Mackenzie/Sinclair Room)
Organizer: Timo Myllyntaus, University of Turku
Chair: Olle Hagman

C4. Technology encountering cultural values of everyday life III: Equipping Homes
(Wednesday 15.30-17.00 Mackenzie/Sinclair Room)
Organizer: Timo Myllyntaus, University of Turku
Chair: Paul Ceruzzi

  • Markku Norvasuo, Designing Properly Lit Homes: The question of daylight and innovation in apartments versus public buildings in the architecture of Alvar Aalto between 1927 and 1939

  • Tiina Huokuna, Leap from Modesty to Modernity, Refurbishing Finnish Homes in the Postwar Period

  • Timo Myllyntaus,The Entry of Males and Machines in the Kitchen: A Social History of the Microwave Oven in Finland

C5. Environment and technology
(Thursday 8.30-10.00 Mackenzie/Sinclair Room)
Chair: James Williams

C6. Crossing Borders With Mixed Feelings: Sports and Technology I
(Thursday 10.30-12.00 Mackenzie/Sinclair Room)
Organizer: Hans-Joachim Braun
Chair: Hans-Joachim Braun

  • Walter Kaiser, Materials Revolution, Engineering Sciences, and Synthetic Landscapes: the Shaping of Sports through Technology since 1960

  • Stefan Poser, Speed Based on High-tech for a Dated Technology: Rowing in the 19th and 20th Century

C7. Crossing Borders With Mixed Feelings: Sports and Technology II
(Thursday 13.30-15.00 Mackenzie/Sinclair Room)
Chair: Stefan Poser



Artemenko, Roman (Researcher, Russia)

Adventures of Herbert Marshall McLuhan in Russia: From Stoned Pseudo-Prophet of Bourgeois Culture to Generation "Z" Tribal Idol

It's hard to find in XX century culture a person which make more sense (and non-sense both) in understanding phenomena of mass media and technology. Perception of his technological determinism theory in America and Western Europe still vary from absolute ignoring to indisputable authority. In my paper I would like to tell about the way his ideas appeared in Russian media in soviet and post-soviet period and its effect.

Due to 1960-1970ies in soviet critical articles McLuhan’s theory was taken as a trying to replace classical Marxism thesis about battle of classes as leading role in history of revolutions with thesis about battle of media. None of his classical works were published in Russia until 2003, when Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media were publishes for the first time on Russian. First post-soviet generation which was grown with Internet as a part of Environment, Matrix – as Neo-Testament and Resurrection of Religion takes McLuhan’s theory as natural part of post-structuralism, which almost completely replaced Marxism in the area of humanitarian knowledge. In my paper I would like to pay attention to following questions (in correlation with McLuhan’s media theory): Perception of Post-industrial theory in industrial society; Cold war, local war and terrorism as media effect; Industrial terrorism in post-industrial society; Cold war roots of 9/11.


Báez-Villaseñor, María Estela (Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana Iztapalapa, Mexico)

Taming the prairies: Technological development and federal control in the American prairies during the second half of the nineteenth century

The purpose of the paper I intend to present at ICOHTEC 2008 Victoria is to relate the technological innovations that made easier the colonization of the American prairies in the second half of the nineteenth century with the political project promoted by the federal government in order to demonstrate that the collaboration between the federal and local governments with technological innovations was the clue to the successful integration of these regions to the liberal project which supported the small and medium property as the best way to control the land and population. After the civil war was over, the organization of the huge territory which is today the United States entered into a last phase, in which the prairies, previously neglected because they did not have good soil and enough waterways to support farmers, became the link between east and west. The federal government created new laws in order to complement the Homestead Act (1862) which was inefficient in these lands. However, the settlements would have been doomed without technological devices which made human life easier and promoted federal control over them.


Becker, Ann (State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA)

The Canadian campaign: An army “ruined with smallpox”

This paper traces the impact of the smallpox on one of the first important military confrontations
of the American Revolution. Although subjugation of Canada was sought by military leaders early in the war, an effective attack on the British stronghold of Quebec proved impossible due to the prevalence of smallpox and the inability of the commanders of the Northern Army to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of healthy troops. The unauthorized application of medical technology in the form of self-inoculation by the troops in Canada led to significant strategic and military complications during this campaign. Unsanitary living conditions, the lack of an effective medical cohort and failure to control unsupervised inoculation led to a catastrophic lack of health management, and ultimately a military loss in Canada.

Nearly all of the participants of the campaign, as well as the Congressional Committee established to review the disappointing military loss, conceded that smallpox was the cause of the American defeat in Canada. My paper will explore the effects of smallpox on the soldiers, military strategy and later decisions to use a formal policy of mandated inoculation to protect the Continental Army against this disease.


Bergman, Yoel (Tel Aviv University, Israel)

Paul Vieille’s recollections of his mid 1880’s experimental work

In 1893, Paul Vieille, presented the details of the laboratory work that enabled the 1884 poudre B breakthrough. In the preface, he noted: “The studies presented herein were undertaken some 10 years ago, and most of the results which are gathered here were acquired in the years of 1884 and 1885. They include newly-acquired data on the varying modes of combustion of explosives materials according to their conditions of agglomeration, leading us to manufacturing processes of new powders for the armament.”
Vieille proceeded to describe the technical novelty that formed the basis of his analysis: the recording of the pressure vs. time data of small powder samples fired and then burnt completely, during few milliseconds, in a closed bomb. He considered the 1884 apparatus as not differing from a previous description published in a study written with Sarrau on the correct use of a the new “crusher” pressure gauge. Vieille most probably referred to his 1882 study, discussed by R. Amiable in ICOHTEC 2002.

Samples tested in the closed bomb included Vielle’s newly-invented poudre B, based on nitrocellulose, and nitroglycerine-nitrocellulose powders (“double-base”). One sample was based on the British double-base “Cordite” composition, indicating that Vieille was aware of this formulation, even before Cordite’s official acceptance in 1888-1889. Another sample was named “Ballisitite Nobel” containing 50% nitroglycerine and 50% nitrocellulose, sent from Spain and Italy, most likely from plants owned by Alfred Nobel. It seems that Vieille did encounter difficulties in receiving samples from Nobel, although Nobel at that time tried to persuade the French military to use his “Ballistite” and was turned down, in favor of poudre B.

After performing firings in much larger numbers than customary today, Vieille analyzed the results and stated his famous observation that won him a scientific stature: “All colloidal (containing nitrocellulose) powders, currently in use, burn in parallel surfaces”. This provided an important understanding on the new smokeless powders.


Bluma, Lars (Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany)

Cybernetic machines: or crossing the borders between nature, technology and society

Cybernetics, conceived by the famous American mathematician Norbert Wiener, was one of the last sophisticated attempts to bridge the gap between man and machine, mind and matter as well as humanities and natural science. Cybernetic scientists and engineers developed a set of experimental and theoretical strategies, which refused the traditional splitting of the scientific world in different autonomous disciplines. Therefore they created a universal system of references between society, nature and technology, which can be interpreted as a form of bricolage. The link between discourses, machines and organisms, as mediators and wanderers between the different worlds, was the cement that bonded the new interdisciplinary scientific approach.
This paper will give some insight into the process of cybernetic reasoning by using a methodological
approach, which is based on concepts of bricolage and translation. In addition to Wiener’s own
cybernetic bricolage, I will take the early machine experiments conducted by W. Grey Walter, W.
Ross Ashby and Claude E. Shannon in the fifties as examples for cybernetic reasoning.


Borisov, Vasily (Institute of the History of Science and Technology, Russia)

To develop the domestic or to buy from abroad: the beginning of the electronic TV in USSR

The problem: to use production of the home industry or to acquire equipment for the electronic television
broadcasting from abroad arose in the USSR in 1935.

On the one hand, the All-Union Institute of television in Leningrad had got promising results in designing the completely electronic system of electronic TV. On the other hand the Soviet Electrical Industry had a treaty with the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and could acquire the electronic transmitting and receiving TV equipment developed by this corporation.

The Soviet Government came to a dual decision. The Moscow TV Center got the equipment of the RCA based on 343 lines and 25 frames per sec standard. One of the Soviet plants started manufacturing the TK-1 television sets on the base of American documentation. The Moscow TV Center began to transmit TV programs on March 25th, 1938.

At the same time the Leningrad Experimental TV Center was equipped with devices of the domestic production. The transmitting equipment developed by the Institute of television had at that time another working standard (240 lines and 25 frames per sec). The TV broadcasting with this standard started in Leningrad in September 1938. Extra expenses connected with such a parallelism were warranted. The television industry in the USSR continued its development and soon met the international standards.


Braun, Hans-Joachim (Helmut-Schmidt University, Germany)

Automated Soccer? Science, Technology and the Development of Soccer Tactics

Professional soccer is big business. This is the main reason why many teams try to "engineer victory". With some teams, for example AC Milan and its famous lab, everything seems possible. Every movement of a player is recorded, sophisticated computer programs make it possible to analyze soccer tactics and the strong or weak points of teams or individual players. “Tracab” is an information processing system which was developed by the Swedish defence company Saab for missile guidance and is now used in soccer analysis. Which playing system, which tactics is the most promising. What makes the game tick?

In this paper I want to investigate the issue of how the process of scientification and technologization of modern soccer tactics has developed and what the relationship between academic research and practical application in soccer matches was. Has all this extensive application of current know-how in medicine, biomechanics, psychology and other fields which is well- documented in various journals, or the use of information and communication technology particularly since the 1960s, led to some kind of “automated soccer”, in which there is a general consensus about the “one best way” of soccer tactics? If so, what about the individual creative player who does unexpected things? What about chance? How has this scientification and technologization process affected the relationship between team and individual player? Are there any national styles, for example a distinct style in the former Soviet Union and in Russia which reflect Soviet ideology or an emphasis on cybernetics? My main sources are sports journals and the "Science and Football" conference volumes.

My thesis is that there is—thankfully—still a wide gap between theory and practice. The application of science and technology to soccer tactics has not been as successful as its enthusiastic proponents had hoped.


Bronfman, Alejandra (University of British Columbia, Canada)

Amateurs in the Tropics: Shortwave and the Waning Colonial State.

This paper will examine the culture of amateur radio operators in the Caribbean during the 1920s and 1930s. After the discovery that shortwave travelled long distances, many receiving and transmitting stations were installed throughout the region. Controlled mostly by US-based sugar planters or businessmen whose livelihood depended on the transfer of commodities across borders, this transfer of technology across national boundaries expanded the scope of that technology as it encountered new political contexts. In Jamaica, for example, a weakened colonial state came to rely on amateur radio operators to fulfil several official functions it was unable to afford. The British called on them, for instance, to test the communications capacity of passing ships. More ominously, during a labor rebellion in 1938, the Governor of Jamaica asked a group of radio amateurs to use their equipment and expertise to fulfil policing functions and to relay information about violence and unrest, ultimately assisting in its repression. Because of practices such as these, in the Caribbean amateur radio operators were much more than middle-class hobbyists; they were crucial to the governing abilities of the colonial state. Through an exploration of the ways radio amateurs mediated information and state power, this paper will put histories of technology and imperial histories in dialogue with one another.


Buchanan, Angus (University of Bath, United Kingdom)

From Cold War Peacemakers to Environmental Crusaders: The Development of ICOHTEC over Forty Years.

When I attended the International Conference on the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Paris in the summer of 1968, the granite paving stones that had been removed from the roads and used as projectiles by rioting students were still being replaced, and Soviet tanks had just rumbled into Czechoslovakia to extinguish the tender shoots of the ‘Prague Spring’. It was against this unsettled background of Cold War that we established the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC). This was the brainchild of Mel Kranzberg, who had already created the highly successful Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) in America, with its excellent journal Technology and Culture. He was ably supported in a Steering Committee by Maurice Daumas from France, Eugene Olszewski from Poland, and S.J. Schuchardine from the USSR. The plan they presented was for an organisation which would bridge the gulf between Communist/materialist interpretations of technological history and those favoured by historians from the Liberal/democratic traditions of the West. The result was the emergence of a strikingly successful camaraderie which contributed in a modest way to the changes in perception that culminated in the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. This change in the intellectual environment, however, involved corresponding changes in ICOHTEC. We moved from a predominantly national representation to personal membership, and with that change came a more open approach to the selection of themes and papers. More recently, with the growth of a multiplicity of specialised sessions, ICOHTEC has increasingly approximated to the SHOT model, and with this convergence the demarcation between Mel Kranzberg’s two creations is becoming blurred. We need to decide whether or not to accept the dynamic of this convergence and, if not, how we should assert the separate identity of ICOHTEC. I consider that we should follow the
latter course, by stressing the continuing existence of ICOHTEC as a smaller but more open and inclusive society than SHOT, with conferences emphasising the idea of ‘symposia’ on pre-selected themes, possibly with a central programme of invited presentations. The themes which have emerged in our discussions in recent years and which seem most appropriate for this ‘symposium’ treatment are those concerned with the historical roots of environmental change, the history of gunpowder technology, the emergence of a variety of patterns of engineering education, and the history of the technology of music. As one possible line of development, ICOHTEC could usefully focus its scholarly attention on the historical causes of the Technological Dilemma: the need to reconcile our dependence on High Technology with the very real threat that this High Technology could destroy civilised life on our Planet.


Buchanan, Brenda (University of Bath, United Kingdom)

Charcoal: ‘the largest single variable in the performance of Black Powder’?

Two of the three main ingredients of gunpowder have already been the subject of studies by the author -‘Saltpetre: a commodity of Empire’ in Gunpowder, Explosives and the State, 2006 and‘Sulphur, the enigmatic ingredient of gunpowder’ in the Newsletter and Summary of Papers, 2006, of the Royal Society of Chemistry Historical Group. Unlike these cases it seemed that a study of charcoal would produce little that was new. The generalizations were well-known: until the later eighteenth century when the cylinder method was introduced, charring took place in rounded or tall conical earthen mounds in forest clearings; the best charcoal for powder making in the British context came from alder and alder buckthorn or dogwood; and charcoal’s main function was that of providing fuel for the process of ignition, burning and propagation, leading to explosion or propulsion.

But the research now assembled challenges these generalizations by suggesting that in earlier times charring may have taken place in trenches dug in the ground, as still found in some developing parts of the world, and written and practical evidence from at least the fourteenth century shows that the preferred woods were willow and hazel. A recognition of the importance of the porosity of wood was suggested in the middle decades of the sixteenth century by reference to its ‘airy nature’, but evidence has been lacking. However fresh light has been thrown on the problem by research undertaken some thirty years ago under the aegis of the UK’s Ministry of Defence, using the techniques of electron microscopy. Of the limited number of woods examined alder buckthorn was recommended most highly, yet this proved a puzzling failure in later practical tests, whilst willow charcoal did well. It may be that charcoal, for reasons explored in this paper, is indeed in the words of the Journal of Pyrotechnics (1999), ‘the largest single variable in the performance of Black Powder’.


Budd, Michael Anton (Salve Regina University, USA)

Was there a military industrial complex in the age of revolution and war? World war and technological change: Britain & France, 1755–1815.

Risking anachronism can we concretely apply the concepts of world war and a military industrial complex to the late 18th century and Napoleonic era? Advancing technology has been central in enabling modern total war and its global dimension. With some exceptions, however, investigations of this theme have been focused on the last century. Especially for the Napoleonic period, there is a need to follow the example set in studies of 20th century memory & identity and the social & economic impacts of war. How did social and cultural factors influence the understanding of the relationship between technologies and war in Britain and France from 1755-1815? Fought in North America, Europe, the Caribbean and India, Winston Churchill wrote of the 7 Years War as the first world scale war. Moving into the next century J. P. Riley has more recently argued for 1813 as the first instance of true global conflict before the Great War. Were these truly world wars and if so what combination of cultural and technological forces made them so? Was the specter of a military industrial behemoth in the 1960s just the latest manifestation of a long evolving garrison state already over-determined by early industrial and technological change in the age of revolution and war?


Cafferky, Shawn (University of Victoria, Canada)

‘Flying the Wire’: The Development of the Canadian Beartrap Haul-down System

The idea of operating helicopters from the stern of a destroyer was an evolutionary process culminating in the design of the Canadian Beartrap system - a rapid haul-down and securing device - which allowed for the operation of heavy all-weather ASW helicopters from the stern of small warships. The end result, however, was revolutionary. The Canadian Beartrap system transformed naval warfare, especially ASW destroyer operations in the late twentieth century. This was a major engineering accomplishment made possible, in part, by the Royal Canadian Navy’s excellent communication network.

The RCN was the only navy in the world to tackle the difficult and complex problem of pulling and securing a heavy manned helicopter to a flight deck. Those officers and men responsible for the development of the rapid haul-down and securing device were willing to explore new ideas even when larger navies with substantial budgets had abandoned the concept of embarking large, all-weather dual-purpose ASW helicopters. Those same officers were aided in the process because of the navy’s relatively small size - liaison between headquarters and the commands was especially good. Equally important, liaison between the RCN, the Royal Navy and the USN facilitated the entire development process. Five directorates in headquarters, HMC Dockyard, Halifax, VX-10 Squadron, Fairey Aviation and Dowty corporation would play a key role in bringing his concept to fruition. There would also be important assistance from Canadian Pratt and Whitney, the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, and the USN. Early trials in Canada and the U.S. in the mid-1950s and early 1960s proved that the RCN was on the right course. The USN was exploring similar haul-down systems, but not a rapid-securing device for its DASH programme.

During the Second World War the Canadian navy was reluctant to rely upon its allies for assistance. As David Zimmerman has shown, the RCN’s failure to develop its own radar stemmed, in part, from inadequate liaison, lack of expertise in the field, and finite industrial resources. In the case of the helicopter/destroyer, the navy was determined to avoid those same pitfalls in the development of the haul-down and rapid securing device. In the case of the Beartrap system, the Canadian navy borrowed and then improved upon the existing technology to design the world’s first truly workable haul-down and securing device. The RCN realized two benefits with the Beartrap system. First, it allowed the navy to embark large, manned dual-purpose helicopters in its destroyers, improving the long-range capability of the ship. Second, helicopter-destroyer operations were more cost effective than carrier operations. By the late 1960s the RCN was recognized as the leader in the field of ship-borne helicopter operations.

Since the introduction of the Canadian beartrap system, a number of navies have incorporated that system into their own ships. A less expensive version was developed, by Indal Technologies of Toronto, with a rapid-securing device and sold to the Indian Navy for installation in its Leander class frigates which carry the Westland Sea King helicopters. The American Navy has installed the Recovery, Assist, Secure and Traverse system (RAST) in over 100 ships, including the Perry class frigates and the Spruance class destroyers. All of these systems incorporate key components of the Canadian system, and attest to the success of that design.

This paper is based on extensive primary and secondary sources in the field, including Canadian, British and American. In addition, it is based on extensive interviews of those Canadian naval officers who took part in the development of the Canadian beartrap system. Most of the literature in the field is anecdotal and commemorative in nature. Not surprisingly, the history of this important technology is incomplete. This paper seeks to redress the gaps that exist in the current literature and argues that the development of the Canadian beartrap system was a collaborative effort between government, the military, and the private sector.


Ceruzzi, Paul (Smithsonian Institution, USA)

The Early Development of Deep-Space Navigation: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Reality

“Navigation” implies sailing on the open seas; it has also come to refer to finding one’s way through the skies on an airplane, and through space on crewed and robotic spacecraft. After the Soviet’s orbiting of Sputnik in 1957, mission designers envisioned spacecraft navigation to be based on techniques similar to those developed for aircraft and ships at sea. The basic tools of the navigator: sextant, star charts, and a book of mathematical tables (or their equivalent, a computer), would be adapted for space but would remain essentially the same. That vision was based in part on a reasonable extrapolation of existing techniques.

This paper will explore the possibility that it was also inspired by science-fiction portrayals of spacefarers, who “sailed” through the depths of space with only the stars to guide them. For the first human trip outside the Earth’s realm, on Apollo 8 in 1968, such techniques were used. But after that historic mission, space navigation evolved in a different direction. By the end of the Apollo program, and for nearly all deep space robotic missions since, navigation has been directed from Earth-based radio stations, which employ extremely accurate time and frequency standards to fix a craft’s position.

Drawing primarily on contemporary NASA documents, this paper will discuss how Apollo astronauts used a sextant to find their way from Earth to the Moon and back, and how the mental model of the navigator, based on the romantic stories of seafarers and on science fiction images, gave way to something quite different.


Chapelle, Monique (Berliet Foundation, France)

Women and Cars in France, 1900 – 1920

The first motor manufacturers became established in the regions around Paris and Lyon at the end of the 19th century. In 1900, there were more than 50 of them in Lyon.

These “horseless carriages” were designed for a well –off clientele which included women who dictated the latest fashion trends. They rapidly played a decisive role in motor car purchasing decisions and the choice of bodywork. For until 1914, manufacturers supplied fully equipped chassis to customers, who then had a body fitted designed according to their own taste. Coming from rich backgrounds, and often showing considerable originality, these women then ”took the wheel” as technological improvements made driving less difficult.

By interpreting the images of refined luxury and prestige contained in the contemporary documents preserved the Berliet Foundation (catalogues, drawings, posters, and advertising) inspired by Art Nouveau and often the work of famous artists, the author will make a comprehensive analysis of the changes that took place in the relationship between women and cars. Furthermore, the work will highlight the links existing between the world of industry and that of art (graphic artist, painters and writers).

From 1914 – the beginning the First World War – a radical change took place. The motor manufacturing industry worked solely for National Defence. Women from working class backgrounds replaced conscripted men in the factories, assembling cars and trucks which, for professional reasons, they sometimes learned to drive and repair. There were also women in a number of military units (ambulance personnel for example). The author will also seek to explain the underlying reasons and consequences of this change.

The conclusion will focus on the interaction between innovative technological products, symbolizing mobility and freedom, and a population of women which found itself in a particular historical context.


Chapman, Matthew (University of Victoria, Canada)

A Ruthless Education: The Formative Experiences of World War II Canadian Bomber Crews and the Founding of Post-War Aviation Culture.

Post-war civilian aviation in Canada was shaped by the unprecedented number of aircrew returning from service overseas. As such, the wartime experiences of these men provided the foundations for the culture of aviation which evolved in Canada after 1945. This culture, in its social- anthropological definition, has been in part passed down from one generation of aviators to the next, so that even today the affects of the formative experiences of World War II aircrew can be observed in many aspects of civilian aviation. This paper will explore the role that oral history can play in improving our understanding of aviation culture by examining the personal experiences of World War II aircrew in matters of training and aircraft operation, as well as the social aspects of service during the war. Specifically, issues such as airmanship, safety considerations and their relation to decision-making, crew-resource management and stress considerations will be among the topics considered. For the purposes of this paper, interviews of Canadian aircrew who served in Bomber Command will be used to explore these considerations.


Cochrane, Dorothy (Smithsonian Institution, USA)

Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Pilot and Literary Light in Aviation

In 1929, Anne Spencer Morrow, the shy daughter of a banker, became the wife of the most famous aviator in the world, Charles A. Lindbergh. By 1934, following two rigorous flights with her husband scouting air routes for Pan American Airways, Lindbergh was touted as the “First Lady of Aviation.” The transformation from a young woman with a crush on the world’s first media star to a fully accredited pilot and radio operator ultimately rewarded the Lindberghs with the most satisfying moments of their married life. For the public, this evolution resulted in a celebrated writer who provided luminous literary glimpses of aviation through her publications.

Beyond the technical aspects of their flights were the huge literary impacts of her articles for National Geographic Magazine and two books, North to the Orient and Listen! The Wind. With the exception of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, perhaps no one else captured and revealed the essence and thrill of flight like Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Sinclair Lewis pronounced North to the Orient as “one of the most beautiful and great-hearted books that have ever been written.”

This paper will discuss Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s accomplishments in aviation through several perspectives: as Charles Lindbergh’s wife and copilot, as a pioneering female aviator of the 1930s, as a role model, and as a writer. The paper will rely on source material from the Lindbergh Collections at the National Air and Space Museum, the Lindbergh Collection at Yale University, and Lindbergh’s own publications.

Connor, Roger (Smithsonian Institution, USA)

Windmills and Air Flivvers – The Selling of Rotary Wing Aircraft 1930-1950

Between the first commercial autogyro sales and the extensive application of helicopters in the Korean War, rotary wing aircraft were a symbol of modernity, but high costs and a general ignorance of both their capabilities and limitations led to the failure of most early enterprises. While the 1930s has commonly represented aviation’s “Golden Age,” it was a period of significant technological challenge to entrepreneurs attempting to differentiate themselves from the big-business enterprises of building ever higher performing aircraft. Complex aircraft deliberately designed for slow speed flight, regardless of their potential utility, were at odds with the “higher, faster, farther” mantra that imbued aeronautical culture of the time and required an alternative approach to marketing. Between 1931 and 1933, American manufacturers Pitcairn and Kellett saturated their limited autogyro market based on the characterization of stall-proof “safety plane” or elite status symbol and were forced to turn to government contracts and foreign sales for survival. They reconstructed the autogyro into a utilitarian aircraft capable of performing niche applications better than existing fixed wing aircraft.

In this paper, I will explore the interplay between the constructed portrayals of the commercial autogyro manufacturers and their successors in shaping the cultural perceptions of rotary wing technology as it became a touchstone of modernist portrayals. This paper will rely on manufacturer and government correspondence at the National Archives and Smithsonian Institution, but will most closely examine print and film characterizations of rotary wing aircraft, principally in advertising, but also in futurist representations, such as those by Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright.


Daso, Dik (Smithsonian Institution, USA)

Grunt, gallop, and guns to glory: Technological change and its impact on war and culture through Time

By examining the invention/appearance of specific military and civilian technologies it is possible to generalize not only their impact upon warfare, but also upon the evolution of the fighting man on the battlefield and within society. Technological change and the social impact of such change has, over time, expanded the physical size of the battlefield, compressed the time between invention and operational use of technology, and caused sinusoidal paradigm shifts between fighting forces and their relationship of battlefield dominance throughout history—such as the superiority of infantry versus cavalry.

The inventions examined here range from the simple stirrup that allowed the evolution of mounted infantry and thunderous horse cavalry, to gunpowder that heralded the fall of the feudal knight, to the airplane as an observation post and bombardment platform. These and others had sweeping impact upon the evolution of society and the development of both military and civilian culture. Throughout the study a fascinating fixation on flight, both imagined and real, manifests itself as a sub theme from the earliest ground warriors to the twentieth century “Knights of the Air.” Civilian culture was also affected by visions of flight and the possibilities such activity might bring.

This paper crosses many of the suggested themes for this conference such as; globalization of technology, interaction between culture and technology, and technologies of social mobility. This study cuts a wide temporal swath in an effort to examine evolutionary trends not visible in more time- focused historical examinations.


Ford, Matthew (United Kingdom)

Trust and technology: Officer-man relations and the development of the British infantry magazine rifle.

Many commentators seeking to understand changes in small arms technology have claimed that a conservative officer class resisted weapons with greater rates of fire because of an unintelligent infatuation with cavalry and the shock charge. This, they claim, stemmed from a romantic fascination with outmoded military ideals more appropriate to an age before industrialisation.

This paper seeks to challenge that perspective by placing the development of small arms during the late 19th and 20th centuries within their wider socio-technical context. By exploring the British Army’s rifle choices through the lens of officer-man relations what becomes clear is not the unintelligence of those involved in equipment selection but rather how they sought to balance increases in firepower against the ability to achieve military objectives. In these circumstances, weapons with increased rates of fire also brought into play organisational matters related to command and control, logistics and whether the ordinary soldier could be trusted to use his weapon appropriately. In contrast to the more typical antiquarian focus on the technical artefact, it is the contention of this paper that rifle selection can only properly be understood when seen within this more complex set of inter-relationships.

This paper draws from my research into the development of British infantry rifles from 1880 to 1986. The primary sources are the UK National Archive, MOD Pattern Room, Zuckerman and Cherwell archives and the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies. Secondary sources comprise the vast literature on the British Army including autobiographies and academic research.


Freeze, Karen (University of Washington, USA)

Theater Technology under Communism: A Czechoslovak Export

Technology was a core part of communist ideology and played a central role in “building socialism,” in both the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Europe. As such, innovative technology served as an “ambassador” to the West for the Soviet Bloc countries, a way of proclaiming that despite evidence to the contrary, these countries could achieve world class contributions to a number of technologies. A little-known category, hardly critical to the national economies, yet symptomatic of both political and economic agendas, was theater technology.

Czechoslovakia’s most renowned innovation in theater arts was Laterna Magika (the Magic Lantern), introduced at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. It combined live actors with projections, music, and other media; before computers, strobe lights, and video, this approach was highly innovative and challenging. In 1967 the Czechoslovak pavilion at the World’s Fair in Montreal displayed even more spectacular innovations in theater technology, especially in lighting. In part to demonstrate their leadership in this field, in 1967 the Czechs founded the International Organization of Scenographers and Theatre Technicians (O.I.S.T.T.), which has sponsored since 1967 eleven international exhibitions of theater stage design and technology, every four years in Prague.

My objective in this paper, based on both Czech published and archival sources, mostly from the Theater Institute in Prague, and American theater journals, is to use the Czechoslovak experience to explore theater technology in its political and cultural context under communism, and the role it played in presenting the Soviet Bloc countries to the world.


Fridlund, Mats (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

Terrorism of the Word: Insurrectionary Print Technologies and the Origins of Modern Terrorism

In 1878 the typesetter Vera Zasulich committed what has been considered the first act of modern terrorism when she pulled out a revolver and shot the Governor of S:t Petersburg. At the time Zasulich was working at a clandestine socialist revolutionary printing press producing insurgent tracts against Russian despotism. Through this she signified in her person this violent turn of insurrectionary tactics, from the classical propaganda by the word to the new modern propaganda by the deed. This violent act was followed by similar assassination attempts by daggers, revolvers and dynamite bombs, making up the so called first “Anarchist Wave” of modern terrorism.

The paper explores the role various forms of print technology that played a central - and possibly enabling - role in the rise of modern terrorism during the long nineteenth century. In addition to the role of clandestine printing presses in Russia the paper focus on the history of bomb-making manuals in Europe, America and Asia. Central is how the various forms of printing technologies made possible and disseminated new forms of violent print culture in the form of militant anarchist newspapers such as The Alarm and Die Freiheit and manuals like the book binder and publisher Johann Most’s Revolutionary War Science (1886) popularizing science by detailing various ways of using ‘scientific’ explosives such as dynamite and gelignite to construct terrorist bombs. These two print technologies also played central roles at the Haymarket bombing in Chicago in 1886 when the new modern terrorism reached America.


Gainor, Chris (University of Alberta, Canada)

The Avro Arrow and Canada’s Unrealized Dreams

The CF-105 Avro Arrow jet interceptor has become a symbol to many Canadians of home-grown technological strength that was destroyed by timid politicians and above all by Americans who worked to undermine Canadian independence from American control. This belief continues to hold a prominent place in Canadian folklore a half century after the controversial cancellation of the Arrow program by the Conservative government of John Diefenbaker, and it has been supported by books, novels, television documentaries, a play, and a television mini-series that first aired in 1997. The controversy over the Arrow ignores facts such as the strong support the United States military provided for the Arrow program, and the Arrow’s projected role defending both Canada and the United States against Soviet bombers rather than as a protector of Canadian sovereignty.

This presentation will look critically at the place the Arrow has gained as a symbol of failed Canadian dreams, quoting from popular literature dealing with the Arrow, and will compare the myths to the realities of the Arrow story. The Arrow has become an example of how technology interacts with culture and politics. The controversy over the Arrow relates to popular beliefs that new technologies can solve a host of economic, social and political problems.


García-Gutíerrez, Blanca Estela (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Iztapalapa, Mexico)

The technology industrial development of the textile industry in Mexico in the mid-nineteenth century.

The purpose of this paper is to present an analysis of the economic policy for the Mexican government, since their independence (1821), in the matter of the textile production of the country. The program was designed to aid the government in the elaboration of an industrial development proposal. This was first submitted in 1830, by the Avío Bank (Banco de Avio), and later by the National Industry Committee (Junta General de la Industria Nacional), which was led by the entrepreneur and politician Mr. Lucas Alamán, who later became the chairman in 1842. This industrialization project involved the application and adaptation of European and particularly, British innovative technology to Mexican factories in the eastern and central parts of the country.

The foreign innovative industry helped for the creation and development of the modern factories (mainly textile) established in the middle of the 19TH Century. At first, factories were established mainly in the central region. This included the states of Mexico, Puebla, Queretaro, and the central zone of the Gulf of Mexico, which included the state of Veracruz. Later it spread to some other states. Initially, the operation requires the hiring of foreign techniques for the use of the machines brought in from USA and England.

Work that was supported principally by the National Archives of Notaries (Mexico City) was settled in many contracts established between businessmen for the creation and the improvement of companies (shareholders) during the first half of the 19TH Century. In addition, the governmental reports that happened in those years in the matter of the development and problems were faced during the diverse economic activities of the country.


Ghimn, Yun-Csang (University of Alberta/Athabasca, Canada)

Skin Deep – or Ultra-violet Diagnosis, an Ignored Technology

Hermann Wilhelm Vogel's episode published in 1874 reads: "A lady was photographed at Berlin, whose face had never presented specks in photography. To the surprise of the photographer, on taking her portrait specks appeared that were invisible in the original. A day later the lady sickened of the small-pox, and the specks at first invisible to the eye, became then quite apparent." He had noticed dark spots on the picture of a healthy-looking woman by chance before they actually came out. My inquiry takes hereafter steps: first, why did the seemingly ultra-violet apparatus that made Vogel see this otherwise latent sign of illness remain unknown to doctors? Our chemist and portraitist would seldom examine patients but merely retouch their snapshot. The medical gazes meant"outside looking in" to him; as per depth, UV can hardly match x-rays, an innovation two decades later. Secondly, regarding temporality, even if Vogel's medium had been known, would those rationalist diagnosticians of German laboratories rather than empiricist prognosticians of French hospitals in that era have welcomed it? Just as Roland Barthes muses about his dead mother's"avoir-été-là" on her funeral picture, so Vogel saw one dying Frau's "sera-là." Both of which are ghostly spectra emanating from a "thanato-graph." All this helps explain how some technologies were socially selected yet others not.


Gucciardo, Dorotea (University of Western Ontario, Canada)

‘Nature’s Tonic’: Exploring the Technologies of Electric Medicine in Canada, 1850-1920

Throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the technological potentiality of electricity in relation to health, beauty, and medicine captivated Canadians. Beauty gurus and quack physicians sold their goods and services to the general public, while groundbreaking medical innovations were established that have contributed to a better quality of life for most Canadians. One of the most popular forms of treatment introduced in the late 1880s was electrotherapy—where
patients suffering from various ailments were “treated” with electric current—and it enjoyed groundbreaking success until the early decades of the twentieth century, when its application evolved from an administered treatment into various “home-use” kits that Canadians purchased and used on their own. Drawing from published reports, archival material, newspapers and magazines, I will trace the interaction between electrical technologies and culture and determine what psychological values Canadians placed on these technological remedies.


Hacker, Barton (Smithsonian Institution, USA)

Art of war: Military technology in the First World War graphic arts

When the United States entered World War I, the War Department commissioned eight professional illustrators as army captains and assigned them to record pictorially the experience of the American Expeditionary Force. They produced hundreds of drawings, sketches, watercolors, and other field works intended to provide the basis for academic paintings after the war. The program was cancelled the day after the Armistice and the War Department transferred the vast bulk of their work to the Smithsonian. It was exhibited briefly during the early 1920s, but has since remained in storage. Margaret Vining and I have been joined this year by Elizabeth Prelinger, an art historian on sabbatical from Georgetown University, to fully catalogue and publish the collection. I have been particularly interested in how these artists responded to the evidence of technology and industry they witnessed in what historians have often called the first great industrial war. Accordingly, we are doing a systematic content analysis of the artwork to identify the frequency and nature of depictions of military technology in particular, and of all related manufacturing, logistics, medical, and other technologies. We will compare and contrast these approaches with more conventional depictions of camp life, soldierly activities, and landscapes to reach some conclusions about contemporary impressions of the impact of technological innovation on the conduct of war.


Hagman, Olle and Martin Bae Pedersen (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

Encouraging Environmental Driving: The journey towards a definition of “Good” versus “Bad” cars in the Swedish system of subsidies and classifications

In April 2007 the Swedish Government introduced an “environmental discount” of 10.000 SEK (˜1100 Euros) for private buyers of cars that qualified as ”environmental”, according to their definition. This was just one step in an ongoing multi-layered and multi-centered politics to encourage a change towards less polluting and less fuel consuming cars in Sweden. One of the first steps was taken in the 1980s with the so called ”catalyst discount”, before the three-way catalyst converter became a compulsory equipment of all new cars in Sweden in 1989.

In this paper we outline the history of (the successful?) official environmental car classifications and subsidies during the last twenty years in Sweden, and of (the unsuccessful?) political efforts to reach agreements on which cars that are the ”worst” and what measures, such as legislation or penalty taxes, that should be used against them. This history is discussed against a background of how the general agenda of environmental discourse has changed and against a background of technological development. It is also contrasted to the popular representation of SUVs and all-terrain 4X4s as being the ”most” environmental unfriendly cars.


Hall, Bert (University of Toronto-Victoria College, Canada)

What Underlay Improvements in 18th-Century French Artillery?

Military historians who focus on 18th-century France generally share two beliefs: First, that artillery in general, and French artillery in particular, improved greatly during their period, and second, that making cannon with spherical powder chambers was a major part of this improvement. This paper does not dispute the former claim, but takes issue with the latter. Would-be reformers and improvers of the age did, of course, recommend that cannon be made with spherical combustion chambers (or sometimes with pear-shaped chambers), and the subject occupies a considerable fraction of French artillery treatise literature in the 1700s. Modern historians frequently merely repeat the claims that their source texts advance. But claims that a simple geometric alteration improves a gun’s performance are largely fallacious – no matter how eloquently and authoritatively argued. After analyzing the difficulties with such claims, this paper will suggest that improvements in gunpowder manufacture are likely to underlie those perceived improvements in artillery performance that the age found so impressive – especially the reduction in charge-to-shot-weight from more than half to less than one-third. The making of gunpowder in the 18th century is only beginning to be elucidated, but what we know of technical advances in powder manufacture already strongly suggests that a better gunpowder, not a better cannon, accounts for the changes we see in pre- Napoleonic gunnery.


Huokuna, Tiina (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Leap from Modesty to Modernity, Refurbishing Finnish Homes in the Postwar Period

In 1945 just after the Second World War, Finland launched an enormous project to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and set up new factories. The situation was a kind of ”point zero.” The reconstruction also included building houses for thousands of families. The project, however, met various problems. According to the peace treaty, Finland ceded 10% of its land area to the Soviet Union, and therefore about 400,000 evacuated people from Carelia and other ceded areas needed new homes. Furthermore, in several cities a great many houses were destroyed in air raids. Poverty and a shortage of even basic consumer goods characterized the first postwar years in Finland.

Hard work and an ascetic life style dominated the beginning of the reconstruction period. Just- married couples had to find ways to feed the generation of the babyboom and survive in the middle of other hardships in everyday life. A typical house of the time was far from any population center and without a road, electricity and telephone. The people of that exceptional time have millions of stories to tell.

The Finnish Literature Society invited the generation of the reconstruction period to write on their experiences. I participated in that project, and my two questionnaires (2003-2004) and (2006) concentrated to collect stories about families’ first homes after World War II and changes of domestic interiors until the late sixties. In total I received more than 800 prints of text, which respondents wrote about this period.

In many homes and families, ”better days” and the new period started step by step. This paper focuses to examine how the reconstruction period and the striving to quick modernization transformed Finnish kitchens and the culture of housework. It analyses changes in ordinary homes and in the assortments of their appliances, particularly the evolution of such household objects as tableware and machines. The private consumption expanded fairly quickly; consequently, life style was totally different in the late of 1960s than in the late 1940s.

My dissertation Revolution at home!, Visual Changes in Everyday Life in the Late 1960s and Early 1970s (2006) overlaps part of the period and shares some research questions with this paper. Usually in Finland it has been discussed the reconstruction of infrastructure, but I am interested in acquisitions for homes, and therefore this paper will study technological aspects of the cultural change in the modernization of everyday life.


Jakab, Peter (National Air and Space Museum, USA)

Embracing the Future: The Airplane and the Arts, 1903-1915

On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright inaugurated the aerial age with their historic first flights of the powered heavier-than-air craft. By 1905 they had developed their invention into a practical airplane, and in 1908 made their first public demonstrations in Europe and the United States. From the outset, the airplane was received as a world-changing invention. Human flight was so significant and revolutionary a breakthrough that its influence went well beyond the aeronautical community. The airplane had meaning for everyone—from popular enthusiasm for the pilots and their aerial exhibitions, to the commercial and military potential of aviation, to the broad cultural implications of flight, to the artistic expression it inspired.

This paper will examine the response to human flight by the cultural and art communities in the first decade after 1903. A measure of the revolutionary character of the new aerial age was how quickly and broadly the arts reacted and took inspiration from this technological development. Artists, writers, composers, and the like found powerful inspiration in aviation. For them the invention of mechanical flight was an aesthetic event, which they believed would have great influence on the new century’s artistic, even moral, direction. The early 20th century was an increasingly technological world, but more so than any other technical marvel of the period, the airplane had an emotional reception. The invention of the airplane was coincident with the advent of several of the 20th century’s defining artistic and intellectual movements. For writers such as Franz Kafka, Gabrielle D’Annunzio, and Futurist movement leader F.T. Marinetti, flight was an irresistible theme. Similarly, the airplane appeared just as Cubism and the Modern Art movement emerged. The forward-looking essence of human flight was fertile subject matter for influential avant-garde artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Kazimir Malevich, Giacomo Balla, and Robert Delaunay. The paper will examine the interaction between flight technology and these cultural entities, and others, as the world took its first tentative leaps into the air.


Jalonen, Riikka (PhD Student/Researcher, Finland)

“I want to learn to change the tyres of my car!” The technical courses of the car for Finnish women in the 1970s

During the 1960s Finland had become a motorized country and the amount of million passenger cars was achieved in 1976. As a phenomenon motoring was very significant in Finland. However, the public debate about female drivers was still at least strong and passionate. It seems that the most important factor that distinguished the two genders was the fact that the car was a technical device. The public debate emphasized the point that women would always be considered as“female drivers” since they were not interested in technical features of the car.

In the 1970s different magazines started to write articles about special courses that were provided for women who wanted to learn to service and perform small tasks of the car. These courses were mainly organized by the national car union, especially by its local women’s committees.

I argue that these courses, which were a huge success and very popular, can be seen as part of the process how technology and gender have been interacting in society. To become as equal users of the car, women wanted to take part in these courses. But what exactly did they learn during these courses? What kind of women did take part and what were their motives? Did the interest for these courses diminish during the decade when the amount of female drivers increased rapidly? And most importantly, did these courses have any effect on the public debate on female drivers? In other words, did the courses unite the female gender and technology?

The paper will consider the topic from the gender perspective. Magazines, statistics, archival document and oral interviews will be used as source materials. The paper aims to present the meaning of these kinds of courses – besides it examines car driving on both individual and general, contextual level in Finnish society.


Juuti, Petri, Riikka Rajala and Tapio Katko (University of Tampere, Finland)

Path dependence in history of water supply technology

As a resource water is threatened by problems of quantity and quality in an age of heavy population growth, and climate change. Sustainable use of water resources is vital to the well-being of both urban and rural dwellers, the national economy and urban water supply. Insecure access to water and sanitation services has also been known to lead to conflicts in many societies.

Cities in the world face many common challenges. The research aims to reveal historical path dependencies and to present those of today and the future(s) that create bottlenecks as well as path dependencies that prevent meeting the Millennium Development Goals. Historical study that sheds light on the complexity of water supply and sanitation services at the edge of any social/ economical/political changes answers many questions in the field of futures research. Thus, a trustworthy outline of the future must be based on historical analyses.

The general objective of the research is to discover the key strategic decisions that have affected the overall evolution of water and sanitation services in the case countries. Major conclusions: Path dependence is a particularly useful concept for evaluating choices available to policy makers and the constraints on those choices due to unintended variables as well as changes in time context.


Kaiser, Walter (RWTH Aachen University, Germany)

Materials Revolution, Engineering Sciences, and Synthetic Landscapes: the Shaping of Sports through Technology since 1960

The materials revolution around 1960 is a major topic shared by history of technology and history of sport. In almost every area of sport – both competition and recreation - old materials were radically substituted. Mostly the shift occurred from an application of “natural” materials like wood and cotton to the use of polymers, fiber reinforced plastics, and high performance metal alloys. Examples are the advent of nylon ropes in mountaineering, the introduction of metal skis and epoxy skis, the replacement of folding boats by kayaks made from fiber reinforced plastics and polyethylene. Similar replacements can be observed in the field of sailing yachts, gliders, parachutes, and bobsleighs. Though the materials revolution is already a genuine subject of historical analysis, the most important historical impact came from the accompanying application of full fledged engineering science methods, e.g. of aerodynamics in boating, of computational fluid dynamics, and of finite element stress analysis in yacht building and ski technology. Moreover, sports essentially changed under the influence of new materials: Pole jumping performances virtually exploded upon introduction of glass-fiber poles, skiing styles and techniques moved from more cruising type long turns to the rapid short turns of “Wedeln”. Upon introduction of parabolically shaped skis, which again depended on widely improved High-Tech materials, skiing techniques abandoned elegantly drifted turns and adopted much more aggressive “Carving” turns. In whitewater kayaking unprecedented difficulties could be overcome, especially with polyethylene materials, once more supported by a complete change in boat geometry. Carbon-reinforced resin enabled gliders to achieve unknown distances, altitudes, and velocities. Paragliding and windsurfing only came into being when appropriate high-tech materials were available. In some areas high risk sports emerged, like in high- altitude mountaineering, extreme white-water kayaking or base jumping. Eventually, entire landscapes were shaped according to the needs of highly technology-based sports. To this context belong a great number of French skiing resorts built in the 1960s. A most interesting example is Flaine (Haut Savoie), where geophysicist Eric Boissonnas and famous architect Marcel Breuer realized their vision of a completely planned avant-garde ski resort in the Bauhaus style. A breakthrough for an entirely synthetic landscape was, however, the artificial whitewater course at Augsburg, which was built for the Olympic Games in 1972.


Kinney, Jeremy (Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, USA)

Aircraft Engines for the Great War: The Wright-Martin Corporation and the Hispano-Suiza Engine, 1916

On a cold winter’s day in February 1917, the workers of the Wright-Martin Corporation of New Brunswick, New Jersey, completed their first Hispano-Suiza aircraft engine under contract to the French government. Within months, this engine and hundreds like it would be powering French and American military aircraft in the Great War. The deafening blast from the engine’s eight exhaust stacks made it very clear that even before official American entry in April, Wright-Martin and the city of New Brunswick had already become involved in the world’s first war in the air. Aviation has always been a global endeavor with a transatlantic community shaping the technology and use of the airplane. The Great War solidified this bond along nationalist lines as governments would call upon their leading industries, and those of their allies, to produce new weapons of war, including airplanes and aircraft engines. The interplay between American and European engineers,
entrepreneurs, military officers, and politicians in the design, production, use, and adaptation of the Hispano-Suiza engine provides a case study highlighting the following conference subthemes: the exchange of ideas and transfer of technology in history, the spread of technological theories over national borders, and the globalization of technology.

The main body of evidence for this project consists of primary source material that reflects the cultural, social, and technical history of aircraft manufacturing during the Great War. The libraries and archival repositories visited include: National Archives and Records Administration, National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of American History, and Rutgers University.


Kunnas, Jan (European University Institute, Finland)

The agricultural basis of the Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon famously said an army marches on its stomach referring to the importance of the supply line. Obviously food is necessary for the army, but another important agricultural product is often forgotten, namely saltpetre. Saltpetre forms 75% of the ingredients of black powder and was thus of great importance for warfare until the invention of smokeless gun powders.

In a circular published 1775 the pseudonym Philopater claimed that Sweden lost annually 360 000 barrels of corn due to the production of saltpetre. He argued that it would be more effective to spread the manure in the fields than use it for the production of saltpetre. It should instead be imported from abroad, where it could be produced at a cheaper rate. Philopater´s claim has been widely cited, but as far as I know, now one has so far tried to estimate the accuracy of his claim. This is the very thing, I am trying to do in my paper. I will examine whether the production of saltpetre had a noteworthy effect on agricultural output and to the provision of foodstuffs to the marching armies – and to the outcome of the Napoleonic Wars.

I will close my presentation, by arguing, that the Ostrobothnian saltpetre barn can be seen as an early example of Finnish hi-tech and as an example of technology transfer in the opposite direction than usually considered.

Lawson, Hannah (Swansea University, Great Britain)

Textiles in Greco-Roman Naval warfare

The production of textiles in antiquity is usually regarded as a domestic process conducted by women, while warfare is something to be experienced by men far from home. At first glance the two things could not be more separate, and yet without cloth and rope no ship would have ever left port. Naval warfare in the ancient Mediterranean was reliant on a steady supply of textiles for sails, rigging, and even protection and waterproofing for the hull. It would have been difficult, if not impossible to meet these demands were weaving and the production of yarn to remain truly domestic, and so the growth of a fleet meant the evolution of a state’s textile industry: expansion away from the home, the growth of trade in raw materials and increased employment opportunities. This paper will demonstrate the level of textile involvement in Greco-Roman shipbuilding and explore its wider social implications.


Lazarín-Miranda, Federico (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Iztapalapa, Mexico)

Technological Influences in the Mexican aeronautics, 1909-1919

This paper is part of a research of long reach denominated “Industrialization and aeronautical development, 1903-1982”, which is made in the Metropolitan Autonomous University at Iztapalapa. In the year of 1909 the “sportsman” Alberto Braniff made the first flight in Mexico in an airplane by the French company Voissin. That YEAR is considered officially like the date of the beginning of aviation in Mexico. Since then the design and manufacture of airplanes began in our country. New engineers and aeronautical manufacturers were formed in aviation schools and universities of the United States of America and France. In the same way, the first designs of airplanes were based on the models Voissin and Bleriot that arrived to our country, as well as the Anzani motors. These apparatuses served as base for the design and manufacture of airplanes and motors in Mexico in the period that goes from 1909 to 1919. The purpose of this communication will be to show how through the influence of the European and North American models and the transference of technology the design and the manufacture of “national” models of airships developed. The information that will be used for the elaboration of this paper comes from the “Marcas y patentes” of the General Archives of the Nation.


Le Roy, François (Northern Kentucky University, USA)

“The War of the Two Jacquelines:” French and American Women in Jet Aviation

Between 1951 and 1964, Jacqueline Auriol and Jacqueline Cochran engaged in a well-publicized competition in pursuit of the female world speed record. Both were accomplished flyers and had achieved name recognition before the start of what the press nicknamed “the war of the two Jacquelines.” Cochran had won the Bendix Trophy in 1938 and co-founded the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots in World War II. Auriol, daughter-in-law of Fourth Republic President Vincent Auriol, had been admitted in the exclusive club of French test-pilots after having recovered from a tragic crash. Flying the most advanced combat aircraft of the time, they chased records to promote the aeronautical industry of their respective country, and to demonstrate that women could hold their place in modern jet aviation. There is a certain irony in the evolution of women’s status in aviation, notably in France. While women had achieved relatively high visibility during the early years and golden age of aviation, their position declined in apparent relation to the growing complexity and cost of aircraft. Reporting on the career of Auriol, a French television commentator remarked that the “encounter between this frail young woman and this monster of steel (the Mirage) was a strange one.” Arguably, such an encounter would have surprised less when airplanes still displayed a perceived feminine fragility and elegance. This paper proposes to explore the place
of women in the broader Franco-American aeronautical competition and the paradoxical decline of French women in aviation.


Lerman, Nina (Whitman College)

Jim Crow and the White Way: Race, Religion, and Progress in Early Electrification

Electricity has been linked, by cultural historians of the US and by historians of technology, with ideologies of progress, civilization, and, in turn, whiteness. Perhaps most obviously demonstrated at the Columbian Exposition of 1893, but evident in many other sources of the era, electricity seems to have been entwined with a kind of moral obligation to modernity – at least for the white nation. In a period of increasing racism, when civilized progress was routinely contrasted with the dark primitive and the legal and social segregation known as “Jim Crow” was inscribed in daily material practice, electrification would seem an unlikely feature of any spaces of designated blackness. Yet the all-black Tuskegee Institute in Alabama was electrified by 1898, and several of its spin-off schools in the rural south had generators at a time when electrification in the region was still rare. Meanwhile faculty at the all-white Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical Institute had to argue for an electrical engineering department by promising it would save money, providing cheaper and safer lighting than kerosene.

These paradoxical stories suggest we need to complicate our understandings of progress ideologies, civilization, and whiteness at the turn of the twentieth century. This paper seeks to connect the emphasis on regionalism standard in social or economic history, complications of whiteness emerging in race and ethnic studies, and attention to material practice from the history of technology to explore alternative meanings of progress, and the potential for dissent from a scientific and technological vision of civilization.


Mägi, Vahur (Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia)

Estonian Oil-shale Technology in Australia

The first written records of oil-shale found in northern Estonia date from the 18th century. Local peasants burned it to obtain fertiliser for their fields. Industrial exploitation of the oil-shale resources began in the 1920s. Also experiments in oil shale distillation began at the time with the purpose of finding a replacement for lubricating oil which had become scarce during the war, making the situation especially complicated for railway transport. The Rolle retort that had become well known in Germany as a furnace employed in lignite distillation was taken as an example upon choosing the distillation retort. The test machinery built at Tallinn shipyard plant was primitive with sea mine buoys as its principal component. French and Scottish know-how was employed to work out the technology. Estonian chemists visited oil mills in Scotland. The first experimental industrial distillation unit was designed and constructed by a Berlin company Julius Pinsch AG. It was opened in 1921; then the construction of a large mill began in Kohtla. No research had been conducted into Estonian oil-shale. Information obtained from processing other types of fuel were of no significant use since the knowledge gained could not be directly applied to oil-shale processing due to its specific character – a lot of ash residue and specific thermal decomposition. It was agreed that oil-shale was an extremely complex mixture of compounds. The State Central Laboratory and the National Experimental Laboratory at Tallinn Technical School began research into oil- shale. An independent oil-shale research laboratory was founded at Tartu University Institute of Chemistry and later transferred under Tallinn Technical University. Solid research was also pursued by the oil-shale industry. Three ways of thermal processing were employed to extract oil: the internally heated vertical retort, the externally heated rotary retort and the original (internally heated horizontal) tunnel oven designed by Estonian engineers. The local shipyard plants and the machine works Ilmarine and Franz Krull produced the necessary equipment for the oil mills. The tunnel ovens of Franz Krull machine works received wide international recognition. In the 1930s, when modernizing the oil-shale industry began in Australia, the National Oil Properity Ltd commissioned a design for their new oil mill from Estonia considering the similarity between Australian and Estonian oil-shale. By then, Franz Krull had already constructed four successfully operating tunnel ovens. The oil mill constructed in Glen Davis near Newnes, New South Wales employing the Estonian technology was opened in 1939. The mill worked until 1952 when cheap Arabian crude oil came out on the world market. The oil produced in Glen Davis tunnel ovens constituted one fifth of the shale oil produced in Australia in 1865-1952.


Männistö-Funk, Tiina (University of Turku, Finland)

Bicycle, Gender and the Modernization of Finnish Countryside, 1900 – 1939

This paper deals with the gendered meanings and uses of bicycle in the Finnish countryside from the beginning of the 20th century until the beginning of the Second World War. Cycling played a visible role in the construction of gender identities of the urban middle class in the late 19th century. It is interesting to see, what happened when the same technology entered a different historical and cultural environment. This point of view is especially meaningful in the history of such countries as Finland, which long remained predominantly agrarian. In this paper, I will use an extensive folklore collection material to study the connection between cycling and gender identities as part of the modernization process in the Finnish countryside. This modernization meant a technological change in agriculture, a budding modern consumption and a cultural change catalyzed by the elementary schooling and the high level of activity in different kinds of associations. The spread of cycling was part of this process, the bicycle being probably the most important of the first consumer technologies and enabling a new culture of mobility in the countryside. Looking at the gendered use of the bicycle and the symbolic meanings given to it offers a possibility to understand better the nature of the modernization process and the change of gender ideals and gendered practices as part of it.


Mayzel, Matitiahu (Tel-Aviv University, Israel)

War for the masses: technology, industrialization, and the social and ethnic expansion of the Red Army in the 1930s.

In this paper I propose to discuss the profound changes, which the Red Army underwent in the 1930. In the decade before WWI the USSR underwent a revolution, as intensive and dramatic as that of 1917. Rapid industrialization started in 1928, collectivization of agriculture started a year later. As it is already known to historians of the Soviet period, one of the motives for this planned upheaval was the need to transform the USSR into a military power. Within few years another motive will arise – the danger of a general war of the type of the war of 1914-1918. Technological necessities of modern warfare, as demonstrated in WWI, required a radical changes of the Red Army, in military theory, structure and organization, in the material basis, and in social composition. In the context of Stalin’s dictatorship all this involved, naturally, political changes. Thus from 1930 onward new military theories start to appear, perceiving war in terms of modern industrial technology; new organizational patterns emerge; new military hierarchy was created; the Red Army is expanded, bringing in new social groups [peasants from the countryside] and new ethnic groups [the people of Central Asia and the Caucasus]. The newly introduced legislation on compulsory and general military service made the military service an agent of industrialization and of education in modern technology.


Myllyntaus, Timo (University of Turku, Finland)

The Entry of Males and Machines in the Kitchen: A Social History of the Microwave Oven in Finland

Until the mid-20th century, women predominantly took care of most household work in Finland as well as in other European countries. The introduction of the vacuum cleaner to Finland in the 1950s raised hopes that this technical device would attract men’s interest in cleaning, and furthermore, mechanisation would lead to more equal division of labour in household works. Nevertheless, cooking was still considered to remain as the sphere of women, and so it remained for at least two decades.

However, things started to change gradually. At present, it is not entirely rare that males cook for their families at home. Why has the situation so markedly altered, especially among the younger generations? This is the main question of this paper. A hypothesis is that causes behind the change are various, both societal and technological factors that have significantly contributed the transition.

Since the 1950s, the number of various household appliances has increased in Finnish homes. While these devices made housework easier and quicker, they also made it more technical. I would claim that there has been one crucial appliance, the microwave oven, that caused an exceptionally great change in the Finnish cooking culture. Because the use of a microwave oven is so simple, the heating of food by it was not a problem to men or children. The presence of wives and mothers was not any more a necessity. After school, a child could take homemade food or a prefabricated factory portion from the fridge or freezer, heat it and have a meal. If there were problems, instructions could be asked by a mobile telephone from parents. As a result, working mothers could on the one hand serve their employers longer hours or go shopping after work. On the other hand, children learnt to work in the kitchen independently – without parents’ supervision. This change has made family suppers more rare social events and then decreased the integrity of the family.

In international terms, the “microwave revolution” of the 1970s and 1980s was exceptionally quick and comprehensive in Finland. Now for two decades, almost every Finnish household has had a microwave oven. For thousands of children and young adults, microwave “cooking” is the most common method to prepare a meal at home, and consequently, in per capita terms the consumption of prefabricated factory food in Finland is one of the highest in the world. Nevertheless, learning to use the microwave oven has encouraged at least part of teenagers to move on to more challenging methods of cooking. Various other appliances have arrived to supplement a reasonable manifold assortment of Finnish kitchen equipment. Generally, men have been fond of technical appliances. There are at least some cooking technologies, the use of which is clearly dominated by men.

In postwar Finland, the change in gender roles has been significant. How has technology affected on this development? How profoundly have such technological novelties as the microwave oven altered food culture in Finland? These are included the major research questions in this paper that examines these issues by means of one technological case study.


Neumaier, Christopher (TU Munich/University of Mainz, Germany)

The Demise of the Diesel Car in the US and its Rise in Europe, 1973–2006

In 2006 more than 50 percent of all new car sales fell upon diesel cars in Europe. In contrast, in the USA the share of diesel automobiles was below 1 percent. This is striking because with big cars and SUVs favored by US drivers the fuel efficient diesel engine would be the economic reasonable choice. Yet, from a cultural, political, and technological perspective US drivers are appalled by diesel engines. They perceive them to be smelly, dirty, noisy, sluggish, and unreliable. In Europe, however, they have a positive reputation for their durability, reliability, fuel efficiency, and environmental friendliness.

This paper will show that initially the perception of diesel cars, and the stories told about this technology were similar in both countries. For instance, they were praised as a solution to air pollution and to the depletion of crude oil. Car manufacturers also developed diesel engines for the needs of the European and American customers. Hence, in the second half of the 1970s diesel sales started to rise, but in the US sales dropped dramatically in 1981 and have never recovered. The paper will demonstrate what socio-cultural factors contributed to this chance, and how the stories told about diesel cars changed in this period.

To conclude, this paper will show that there were some striking similarities in the USA and in Germany in the 1970s. It will also explain how the perception changed over time, why similarities disappeared, and variations emerged between Germany and the US.


Norvasuo, Markku (Helsinki University of Technology, Finland)

Designing Properly Lit Homes: The question of daylight and innovation in apartments versus public buildings in the architecture of Alvar Aalto between 1927 and 1939

The technology of lighting was important to the modern architectural movement that was born around year 1927 in Europe. In Scandinavia the rise of modernism and the general interest in the possibilities of electric light coincided strongly. This can be seen also in the first explicitly‘functionalist’ building of architect Alvar Aalto, the Turun Sanomat building, drawn in 1928. But Aalto’s parallel object of interest was daylight, and many of his most innovative designs were arrangements of interior spaces and window openings. He designed many genuinely original rooflight
forms. One of these was the round conical type that became a notable feature of the Viipuri library.

The question of daylight was, however, treated quite differently in Aalto's apartment buildings. Their fenestration is mainly based on conventional wall windows. Various roof lights, Aalto's later trademark, are rare in his apartments. In my paper I study this difference and its possible reasons. First I consider the basic ideas about daylight and windows in apartment architecture of the 1930s and Aalto's response to them. Aalto was indeed interested in rationalistic ideas, for example the use of the strip window. But many of his original ideas were not clearly reflected in apartment architecture.

I suggest there are several reasons for this. The scale and programme of spaces were different from other building types, the design was much related to the minimum apartment discourse, the theory of daylight was dominated by the side lit room type, the possibilities of form so important to Aalto were limited and finally, most of his freestanding apartment houses were sufficiently lit by conventional window forms. But there are also interesting exceptions. As a consequence, many qualities of Aalto's apartment and public buildings are basically different. This has also been acknowledged by e.g. Demetri Porphyrios, who gives another explanation to this difference concerning Aalto's postwar era.


Ortega, Martha (Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Mexico)

Atoms for Peace: nuclear technology transference to the ‘Third World’,
Latin America between 1955 and 1968

In this paper I am going to analyze the arguments that took place in the UN that established the compromise of the Nuclear Powerful Nations to transfer technology to Latin America. I am going to describe the actions that the International Organisms took in order to transfer this technology. We are also going to evaluate the impact that this transference had in the region until the signature of the Tlatelolco Treaty in 1968. This period was very important because the Latin American governments had decided if they were going to adopt that new technology or not. Those who decided to take this technology had to organize where they would apply this technology and the economic health they had expected. We will analyze this topic in order to know the possibilities these states have now to use this kind of energy.


Ossian, Lisa (Des Moine Community College, USA)

The ‘robomb generation’: Children of the Second World War playing with very real military technology

This paper will address a new direction for my research concerning children’s roles and experiences during the Second World War. While American children often experienced luxuries and safety unknown to many European and Asian children, resulting in better food choices and an array of toys, children living directing within the war zones of World War II became fascinated with the refuse of war and often played with very real technological components of war. Sometimes this proved dangerous and even fatal, although for most children it actually resolved psychological issues through play albeit with very tangible weapons of war. For example, the following extended quotation from Time magazine summed up the photograph of a French boy and girl playing amidst the refuse of a recent attack on their village following the invasion of D-Day:
“These French children are playing with toys familiar to a generation of young Europeans-weapons left behind by the Germans. They were born into a world at war or about to go to war, a world of terrified human tides streaming along roads where Stukas mowed people down or drove them into stunned huddles in the fields. The walls of decent convention, which had meant civilization, have collapsed around them. They are the generation of the robomb. They are also the generation which in 15 years will have to reconstruct the civilization with whose lethal symbols they
are still young enough to play. (Time, 19 February 1945, 38).

Note: The “robomb” became a new social term for the German unmanned missiles of 1944 simply
titled the V-1 and V-2.


Poser, Stefan (Helmut-Schmidt-University, Germany)

Speed Based on High-tech for a Dated Technology: Rowing in the 19th and 20th Century

At the end of the 18th century an activity, known from slaves and prisoners in the Mediterranean Sea, became an upper-class sports in England. It was so fashionable that it belonged to the first types of English sports adapted on the European continent. Due to technical improvement and new techniques of rowing, rowers became the fastest manpowered persons on water. The paper asks for mutual influences between rowing and technology.

Rowing is a new subject in the history of technology. Thus the paper is mainly based on contemporary (printed) sources, most of them written by teachers of rowing. There are more books on the history of rowing in England than on Germany. Their main emphasis is on the development of rowing clubs and the social background of the rowers. Sociologists analyse rowing clubs and rowing teams as social groups. The technological development is sometimes mentioned in these works but its relevance for rowing seams to be out of the focus of these authors.

It is the first aim of the paper to analyse to what degree sportive rowing is technology-based. Normally new technologies were used quite fast. But in the case of a key-technology of sportive rowing, the sliding seat, the development of an adequate method of rowing for this technical innovation took nearly 60 years. Thus the second aim is to find reasons for this gap in the adjustment of rowing techniques. As I will demonstrate, high-tech solutions were developed for rowing especially in the 20th century. So there is a paradox: Sportive rowing became fashionable when rowing lost importance in transportation for economic purposes. Thus sophisticated technological improvements of rowing boats were developed for an already dated technology. Therefore the third aim of the paper is to analyse to what extend this development is a characteristic phenomenon of technology used in sports.


Rajala, Riikka and Petri Juuti

Water Use Strategies In Long Term Perspectives In Finland

This article discusses the development of water supply in South Africa and Finland from the late 19th to the early 20th century. The main focus is on one South African town, Durban, and one Finnish town, Porvoo. The special subjects of study are the development of water supply, water use, patterns of governance, as well as access to clean water in different areas of the cities. The article deals first with some general developments in South Africa and then focuses on the South African case, Durban. Then it presents the general developments in Finland and the Finnish case, Porvoo, is presented in detail.
Major conclusions: The models and the knowledge in support of the various solutions were collected both from abroad and other facilities in the countries themselves. The perception of the determining role of the capital city, even the perception of it as a precursor in this sector, proved to be misleading, if not incorrect. The capital city has played an important, but not necessarily the only and central role. The solutions to water demand must be suited to local variations and conditions. Every case and environment is unique.


Ramírez Palacios, Lourdes Rocío (National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico)

The evolution on the physical study within the National Polytechnic Institute

Physics teaching in Mexico during the second part of century XIX and first part from century XX, was restricted because of the lack of conditions for its development and because of the insufficiency of the institutional mechanisms to carry out the fulfillment of their proper functions. However, that lack was counteracted by a minimum number of professionals, whom were in charged of transmitting and advancing in the knowledge of physics and creating specific spaces just established for the formal study of the physical science. These scientists were promoters of the process in institutionalizing the scientific research.

Taking in consideration what was just previously said in last paragraph, the objective of this formal report is to develop the arising and evolution of the applicable physics until its conception as a science through the academic life of the National Polytechnic Institute. In order to do this, it was very important to specify when and in which school physics teaching began. While doing this study, checking and analyzing programs and study plans became necessary as it was to modify the postgraduate programs. Besides all these, it was also necessary checking and analyzing the description of main research work done at our Institute IPN and also about teachers who acted as the main learning physics promoters.

This analysis gave us as a result that the study of physics is pointed at the Superior School of Engineering, Mechanics and Electricity ‘Escuela Superior de Ingeniería, Mecánica y Eléctrica (ESIME)’, in which physics was taught theoretically with practice aplicated and as a study of a science through thirty years. So this study began in 1932 when the ESIME became a school of bachelor’s degree in Engineering and the first belonging to the National Polytechnic Institute ‘Instituto Poitécnico Nacional (IPN)’. The National Polytechnic Institute ‘Instituto Poitécnico Nacional (IPN)’ has been a recognized institution in the teaching of technology and physics in a practical way.


Rosol, Christoph (Bauhaus University Weimar, Germany)

Identifying with Radar: On the Origin of RFID

The talk will present the results of my research into the origin of the so called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). By highlighting the interactions between actors, institutions and technologies it will be shown that RFID as a concept of passive communication is a spin-off of World War II developments in microwave radar technologies and therefore intrinsically tied to the more general”electronic turn” in the history of technology.

A paper in the October 1948 issue of the Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers is generally been credited for describing a passive RFID system1 for the first time. In this paper the Swedish born radio physicist Harry Stockman demonstrates how a radar beam can be modulated by a reflecting object so that it delivers an identification number of that very object. While it is void to ask whether this experimental arrangement in fact constitutes the first materialization of RFID – the development of a hybrid technology like RFID apparently has no single event to cling upon – a rough dating of the original conceptualization of reflected power communication is not. The massive research undertakings in the field of radar during the World War II have turned the electromagnetic spectrum into a controlled environment, penetrated by an armada of newly designed electronic apparatus, that blurred the boundary between scientific instruments and tinkered gadgetry. The experiments Stockman carried out under the auspices of the US Air Force decidedly built up on these developments. RFID came about to be an experimental concept when radar became mature.

My paper will discuss the historical background of Stockman’s paper: the communication system envisioned, the apparatuses used, the institutions involved as well as the professional experience of the experimenter himself. It draws on findings in several archives (e.g. Harvard University Archives, IEEE History Center, USAF Electronics System Center) and combines historical with technical analysis.


Serels, Steven (Indian Ocean World Centre at McGill University)

Acclimatization of Experts in Tropical Laboratories: Andrew Balfour, the Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratory and the Contemporary Study of ‘Medicine and the Colonies’

Recent historical scholarship on the practice of Tropical Medicine within the British Empire has implicated ‘western’ laboratory-based medicine in the extension of imperial power by revealing the ways this medical discipline both produced knowledge useful to colonial administration and developed disciplinary techniques necessary to the exercise of colonial control. This analysis has often hinged on the assumption that the practice of ‘western’ medicine in the colonial context in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reflects a transfer of metropolitan-generated technologies, techniques and discourses to a new setting. A reexamination of the negotiation between Henry Wellcome and the colonial administration of the Sudan that resulted in the establishment, in 1901, of The Wellcome Tropical Research Laboratory, Khartoum and a close reading of the new, laboratory- generated medical knowledge generated by this laboratory will reveal that colonial medical practitioners were not beholden to metropolitan norms of practice. Employing analytic techniques generated in the sociology of scientific knowledge and the social studies of technology to examine the circulation of the scientific knowledge and medical technologies generated by Andrew Balfour, the founding director of this research institute, will demonstrate that the establishment of ‘western’ medical institutions in the imperial periphery allowed medical practitioners to construct information- sharing networks that bypassed the imperial centre. By contrasting metropolitan understandings of the role of skin pigment in the maintenance of health in tropical climates with the new knowledge generated in Khartoum by Balfour and publicized in the institute’s journal, this article will highlight the ways in which colonial medical institutions and the professional networks that they fostered legitimated medical techniques and discourses that challenged metropolitan norms of practice.


Scharenberg, Swantje (Germany)

Uneven Bars Revolution - a matter of one idea and Gender?

The uneven bars is one out of four apparatus used for competitions in female artistic gymnastics. First time at the Olympic Games in Berlin 1936 females were allowed to chose between the parallel bars and the uneven bars to show their routine. At that time the uneven bars was just the parallel bar, but one bar higher than the other. So you could not adapt individually to the apparatus. The bars and its change in construction from the 1960s onwards is symptomatic for the determination of legitimating women in the traditional male gymnastic scene. Richard Reuther, a Sweb and himself one of the best gymnasts in the 1930s had the one idea, pre-tension. He wanted to construct gymnastic apparatus adapting to human movements and human conditions. Reuther constructed the uneven bars as two high bars, stabilized through metal chains. So that the difference between the bars could be chosen individually and that swings instead of elements of balance were possible. The revolution in material and new regulations of the FIG, the international gymnastic Federation, made it possible to create a programme especially for women. Along with this the body shape of the female gymnasts changed to an more androgyn one.


Schmidt Horning, Susan (St. John’s University, New York)

Channeling Sound: Technology, Control And Boundaries In The 1960s Recording Studio

During the 1960s, the introduction of a new method of recording which made it possible to isolate the different instruments in order to control their levels and characteristics on record revolutionized the sound of music. Multi-track recording promised to improve upon the older methods of disk overdubbing and sound-on-sound recording, but its overall affect on the culture of recording mirrored the separation of sounds that it made possible, bringing profound and lasting consequences for the working environment of the recording studio. While it streamlined some engineering tasks, multi-tracking also introduced greater complexity and divisions of labor, literally separating musicians from each other and leading to the demise of ensemble studio performance. It also led to prolonged post-mixing and more complex mastering, ultimately creating a demand for a new specialized business, the independent mastering house. Over a brief period of two or three years, the time and expense involved in recording skyrocketed. Where early recording required musicians to be well-rehearsed and efficient, recording in the 1970s was characterized by excess and indulgence, with musicians spending months in the studio and sometimes only meeting in passing. Recording had become technologically dependent, guided by the ability to manipulate performances by pushing buttons and adjusting levels with precision. Through oral interviews with recording professionals, trade publications, technical literature, and musical and visual examples, this presentation reveals the broader implications of multi-track recording and its impact on music-making. It argues that what constituted a creative tool for some in fact had the unforeseen consequence of dividing performers and tasks in recording.


Stranges, Anthony (Texas A&M University, USA)

Key scientists in the history of air pollution

This paper discusses some of the important issues in the history of air pollution with the focus on the key people who were responsible for discovering the causes of the pollution and for providing the scientific evidence to support their claims. Society is often aware that certain chemical substances, elements such as lead, nickel, manganese, and cadmium, and compounds, such as the many hydrocarbons, the best known of which is methane, are pollutants, or suspected pollutants. They are usually unaware of the scientists who identified the chemical substances as pollutants. Clair Patterson (1922-95), an American geochemist at the University of Chicago and the California Institute of Technology, was a key player in exposing lead as a dangerous pollutant, but his name is virtually unknown by those outside his scientific specialty. In fact some scientists, such as the physician Robert A. Kehoe (1883-1992) of the Ethyl Corporation, rejected Patterson’s evidence when he presented it in the early 1960s. Other unacknowledged scientists, Sir Richard Doll (1912-2005) in his studies on nickel compounds and Arie Jan Haagen-Smit (1900-77) in his studies on hydrocarbons, made similar significant contributions to identifying pollutants. Their research put an end to the claim that presence of these substances in the environment posed no risk to society.


Swinney, Geoffrey (National Museums Scotland/ University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)

Placing and materialising industry and technology – George Wilson (1818–1859) and the establishment of new spaces of intellectual endeavour

How is a discipline, disciplined? How are knowledges mobilised, and arrayed to constitute new‘disciplines’ and new ‘expertise’? What and who are included, and what and who excluded, in the construction of a novel academic discipline? How and where are the borders drawn, and the boundaries erected and enacted? Taking as its primary focus the esoteric motif on his grave-stone, this paper addresses these questions in relation to George Wilson’s role, as the first professor of‘technology’ in a British university, and (simultaneously) as the first Director of the Industrial Museum of Scotland (1855–1859). It examines his enactment of the intellectual and physical spaces by which the ‘territorial features’, the ‘intellectual architecture’, the ‘affordances’, and the place of both the discipline and the Museum were constructed. Specifically, it examines his collection-building practices - that suite of processes by which he materialised technology. It identifies Wilson’s primary focus as the aesthetics of the processes of production rather than those of the finished products.

The study’s methodology itself crosses disciplinary borders. In adopting a primarily geographical perspective – one attentive to space – the paper engages with the social and spatial ‘turns’ in the history of science, as well as from the recent, so-called, ‘third wave’ of social studies in science, Studies of Expertise and Experience (SEE). Predicated on the (social) constructivism which is the elemental tenet of all three ‘waves’, this paper situates Wilson’s own ‘constructivist’ perspectives as being fundamental to his epistemology of both discipline and Museum.


Tang, Chun Wai (Kenny) (Simon Fraser University, Canada)

The Tea Machine – Mechanizing the Traditional Tea Processing Industry in Late Imperial China

This essay seeks to investigate the fundamental driving force behind the technological development of the tea-processing industry in late 19th-century China by analysing how international competition and progressive government officials served as the motor of the technological changes in the traditional Chinese tea industry. It will examine how the emerging tea producers, namely India, Ceylon, and Japan, challenged the dominant position of China as the world leading tea supplier, and contributed to the decline of the Chinese tea export trade in the late nineteenth century. Then it will show how this rising competition in international tea trade, and the falling Chinese tea exports sparked the debate on the causes of the declining Chinese tea exports, which led to the critique of traditional handicraft tea-processing methods among a group of progressive government officials who considered the application of machinery and science to the tea industry as the way to restore the Chinese tea export trade.

In order to demonstrate how progressive officials, and how international competition stimulated technological development of the Chinese tea industry, this paper will examine the attitudes of progressive Chinese officials towards the application of western machinery (especially tea machinery) to production of goods, and their analysis of the declining Chinese tea export, by drawing upon the writings of contemporary scholar-officials, newspapers and magazine, standard history, agricultural treatises, contemporary accounts by European travellers, data and trade reports from China’s imperial
maritime customs.


Tremblay, Mike (University of Victoria, Canada)

Deconstructing the Legendary Status of the Norden Bombsight

Albert Pardini’s 1999 book, The Legendary Norden Bombsight presents in great detail the development and production of the Norden Bombsight, but it is not the content of the book that interests me so much as the title itself. Is the Norden Bombsight Legendary? Was it actually legendary at some other point in time? How did it become legendary and what were the circumstances that made it so? Did it perform in such a way as to make it legendary or was it part of a larger wartime propaganda campaign to win the approval of the American population? Was the proliferation of its legendary status deliberate? If it was deliberate how was the process instituted and by whom? What methods were used to create the legendary perception of the device and was the information used selected for the specific purpose of glorifying the device or the role it played in the larger conflict? It is not the goal of this research to determine whether or not the US Air Corps achieved their goal of precision bombing or to weigh in on the ceaseless debate surrounding the morality of strategic bombing in general. Instead the task at hand is to determine how and why a not-so-effective tool of war earned the epithet legendary.

Weber, Wolfhard (University of Bochum, Germany)

Mechanics and Modern Technologies

We know of bishops and monks being interested in classical mechanics at the end of the 14th century, when also secular leaders like dukes and military in a process of competition sought for self-representation and engaged mechanical experts like Leonardo. This increasing competition amongst them could be met by engaging engineers and experts in mechanical and chemical questions, which came in numerous way down from occupied territories like Constantinopel or southern Spain, here Christians there Jewish and Arab scientists. Venice and its arsenal became one of the foci of this transfer of mechanical knowledge and ability. Accepting and elevating mechanics and publishing it became – as we know – one of the main tasks of the academies in particular in the ‘Descriptions des arts et métiers’ between 1680 and 1760.

But mechanics alone remained insufficient for the great industrial movement which started around the middle of the 18th century. Though around 1850 the fundaments of mechanics shown by Leonardo still had their relevance new and more technological thrusts or shifts came up by studying and practising the laws of nature (philosophy of nature) which resulted in configuring physics and chemistry. I would like to analyse these new shifts by discussing the results from making use of air pressure, of magnetic quality of electricity and the shift brought about by electronics.


Wittje, Roland (University of Regensburg, Germany)

Acoustics between War and Peace: Sound Studies from the Great War to the Weimar Republic

In my talk, I want to discuss the transition which acoustics research and development underwent from their adaptation to military purposes during the Great War to peacetime economy in the Weimar Republic. An array of acoustical technologies, such as sonar and acoustic ranging for artillery and aircrafts played an important role already in the First World War. Following German defeat, academia and industry went from total wartime mobilisation into abrupt demilitarisation. During the Weimar Republic that followed, acoustics research and the development of electroacoustical technologies flourished through the advance of mass media, especially public radio broadcasting and sound motion picture. The transition from war to peace at the beginning of the Weimar Republic was not only characterised by rupture, but also by continuity. A number of scientists who began work on acoustics for military purposes, such as Hans Riegger, Hugo Lichte and Heinrich Barkhausen, all working on underwater acoustics during the Great War, continued an acoustics research agenda during the Weimar Republic. The difference was, they now worked on loudspeaker development (Riegger), sound motion picture (Lichte) and in academia (Barkhausen). After the takeover by the Nazi Regime in 1933, acoustics research agenda was once again militarised, culminating yet again in its total wartime mobilisation at the outbreak of World War Two in 1939. I hope to shed some light on the connection between war and peacetime activities.


Wosk, Julie (State University of New York- Maritime College, USA)

Images of Technological Disasters

Since the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, artists have produced images of technological catastrophes and disasters. These images have helped shape perceptions of technological dangers and ease anxieties as well. This paper will comment on how disasters have been depicted in art, illustration, and photography, and focus on several striking historical examples ranging from images of early railroad accidents and ship steam engine explosions to photographers’ images of the 9/11 catastrophe in New York.

The paper will also consider how the development of printing technologies in the nineteenth century including chromolithographs and photogravure helped feed the public’s hunger for disaster images and also helped improve transportation safety.
Finally, the paper will briefly consider how digital imaging today has had a troubling impact, allowing photographers to artfully transform images of technological disasters and turn tragedy into spectacle.


Zegenhagen, Evelyn (Independent Researcher, USA)

Hanna Reitsch and Melitta Schiller – Two German Women Test Pilots of the Nazi Era

The paper will focus on two women test pilots of the Nazi era: Hanna Reitsch (1912-1979) and Melitta Schiller (1903-1945). While Reitsch, a renowned glider pilot, became a poster figure of the Nazi system, her counterpart and competitor Schiller, a physicist, flight engineer, and Jewish “quarter-breed”, remained fairly unknown. Both women were extremely instrumental in further developing the technologies of dive flying and dive bombing for the German Air Force. Both women were closely affiliated with the rulers of the Third Reich and were rewarded numerous awards. And while Reitsch gained worldwide notoriety as embodiment of the fanatic involvement of Germans with the Nazi regime, Schiller’s untimely death in April 1945 prevented each and any discussion of her involvement with the regime of the “Third Reich.”

The presentation will also focus on aspects of their activities on a larger scale: Reitsch and Schiller are presented in the context of their reception in society. They are exemplary for the fascination and the horror of flight in the first half of the 20th century, for the roles of women in the development of flight, and for the dealing of societies with the roles of women in aviation. Their individual achievements, limitations and valuations reflect the changes in the hopes, promises, and technologies of flying as well as the changes in aerial warfare and society in general.


Ziakkas, Dimitrios and Aristotle Tympas (University of Athens, Greece)

Building borders in the air: Technical protocols competition and international aviation route formation in the electronic era

How did it become possible to built routes in the air? How have borders been produced and sustained along such air routes? How has the technical-natural relationship been perceived when it came to draw and redraw borders in the homogenous air space, different as this space seems to be in comparison to the widely varying places on the ground? In attempting to offer answers to such questions, we here focus specifically on changes (or lack of changes) during the recent decades, which were technologically defined by the transformation of information and communication technologies by the availability of the electronic computer, a machine perceived as global. Our case study then offers us an opportunity to try treating assumptions about the globalization of technology critically. We start with an international overview of the history of critical initiatives during the development of competing technical protocols for international air route formation. This review offers the context for considering the same history from a perspective of a national experience, that of Greece. Caught up in complicacies that make military considerations a factor that could not be neglected, technological air route formation in Greece’s neighborhood of nation-states has put the assumption about the globalization of technology into a strong test. The research presented in this paper was undertaken at international and Greek aviation-related archives, including archives related to civil aviation in Greece.