50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis and the superpower tech race

Fifty years ago the US and USSR averted a nuclear clash during the Cuban missile crisis; but the emergency had profound repercussions for each nation’s computing and communications industries.

An actual Cuban missile site from 1962
An actual Cuban missile site from 1962

The Cuban missile crisis of 16-28 October 1962 was a pivotal point in the Cold War. The close brush with nuclear conflict changed both the nature of the stand-off, the economic and technological strategies behind it, and even the way they used technology to communicate. The Cold War was originally a military stand-off, but it became an economic and technical race.

Behind the historic headlines, though, there is another aspect to the confrontation. A number of technological achievements and aspirations had a bearing on the outcome of the crisis; and the crisis itself influenced the technological development of the superpowers in subsequent decades, particularly in the areas of computing and communications. Understanding these aspects is to understand how the Cuban missile crisis links directly with the collapse of the Soviet empire from 1989.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis
50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis
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