What technology contributed the most to winning World War Two? Was it the atomic bomb, radar or the jet engine? Maybe the bazooka, the Liberty ship, or the mass production of penicillin? How about statistical analysis, the committee system or the National War Labor Board?
While weird and wonderful gizmos always get a lot of attention, the sad fact is that the more remarkable their appearance the less impact they had on the war. The most important technologies were often hidden away in factories or back rooms, like the devices that helped the Allies cracked Germany’s Enigma cipher. They stayed under wraps not just during the war but until the 1970s and later, even though one of them – code-named COLOSSUS – was one of the first electronic, digital computers. Some of the most important wartime developments weren’t even devices you could touch, but concepts and procedures that changed how wars were fought.
On Technology Tuesdays, we’ll take a hard look at war-winning technologies and see what’s hype and what’s reality.