Date of Award

6-2009

Degree Name

MA in History

Department

History

Advisor

Thomas Trice

Abstract

This thesis developed out of my personal curiosity on the subject of high-technological development. Specifically, high-technology’s shift from primarily a military tool to a consumer product raised several questions to answer since first taking an interest in the subject. My lifestyle, like many other Americans in my generation, incorporates computers, cell-phones, and video game consoles as not only an innovative tool, but a standard and necessary mode of production. In our contemporary society, technology is obtainable everywhere. As an entertaining tool in the form of video games to a productivity tool in our workplaces, most individuals have assimilated consumer electronics. Yet this essay seeks to look at the beginning of these changes in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Particularly, how did an American society that based itself around industrial mechanisms suddenly become so enthralled by consumer electronics, which a decade before were used for missile guidance and complex mathematical calculations? How did these devices, which were initially proposed as an industrial and political efficiency tool, suddenly become a labeled consumer luxury good? The answer to these questions surprisingly developed into a more complex socioeconomic analysis of 1970’s and 1980’s behaviors that utilized a Marxist interpretation of the relationship between technology and the human experience. This topic incorporates terms and theories from a variety of academic subjects. While this essay is formed around a historical narrative and argument, much of the evidence is acquired from economical, sociological, and psychological resources. As a result, I hope readers of this essay will find it as enlightening and enjoyable as my own personal journey within the subject.

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