The golden anniversary of the launch of the "space race" seems to have passed with little more than a whisper.
Besides the few paragraphs published in IT On-line yesterday (October 4), as well as one or two other media features or mentions, the unbelievable achievements of those early pioneers of space travel and exploration appear to have been forgotten by "joe public".
Why this milestone should pass almost unnoticed would probably justify a full-scale academic report or thesis.
Political scientists would probably explain that the early days of the space race had more to do with the "cold war" and the battle between the two super powers of the day than any great achievements by man.
Aviation types would probably speculate that the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 was no big deal as it was really nothing more than a logical extension of what had been underway after the Wright brothers lurched off the ground a few decades earlier and the invention of the jet engine towards the end of World War 2.
IT "propeller heads" will undoubtedly claim that had it not been for the development of the Sperry Univac 1 a few years earlier – that monster of a mainframe that had to be housed in a three-storey building and that had the computing capabilities of a handheld calculator of today – the space race would not have been feasible.
Whatever the reasons may be for us not really noticing or caring about the anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, it does seem just a little sad that in today’s highly commercialised, consumer-driven world we seem to take what may otherwise be regarded as spectacular technological breakthroughs and pioneering achievements for granted.
The era of the "space race" that fired the imagination and the inspired a whole generation of "Trekkies" appears to have been replaced by the "chip race" and a pre-occupation with which of leading vendors will be first to market with yet another "state-of-the-art" processor.
– David Bryant