Date of Graduation

8-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

History

Advisor

Alessandro Brogi

Committee Member

Tricia Starks

Second Committee Member

Douglas J. Adams

Keywords

Social sciences, Cold War, Diplomatic history, Supercomputers

Abstract

One of the central features of the Cold War is the "Arms Race." The United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist republics vied for supremacy over the globe for a fifty-year period in which there were several arms races; atomic weapons, thermonuclear weapons and various kinds of conventional weapons. However, there is another arms race that goes unsung during this period of history and that is in the area of supercomputing. The other types of arms races are taken for granted by historians and others, but the technological competition between the superpowers would have been impossible without the historically silent arms race in the area of supercomputers. The construction of missiles, jets as well as the testing of nuclear weapons had serious implications for international relations. Often perception is more important than fact. Perceived power maintained a deterrent effect on the two superpowers. If one superpower suspected that they, in fact, had an advantage over the other then the balance of power would be upset and more aggressive measures might have been taken in various fronts of the conflict, perhaps leading to war. Due to this, it was necessary to maintain a balance of power not only in weapons but in supercomputing as well. Considering the role that the computers played, it is time for closer historical scrutiny.