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Rescuing Prometheus: The story of the mammoth projects--SAGE, ICBM, ARPANET/INTERNET, and Boston's Ce ntral Artery/Tunnel--that created new style [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Thomas P. Hughes
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Thomas Hughes takes an in-depth look at four giant technological projects of the post-World War II era. He paints a portrait of the evolving organizational structures and ever-improving management styles that have enabled engineer managers and their teams to accomplish the near-impossible. The four projects are the Semiautomatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense project, the Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile project, the development of ARPANET/Internet, and the construction of Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel. Each of these undertakings broke new ground, requiring new techniques to overcome daunting obstacles and foster interdisciplinary cooperation.

As a study in management, the book begins its coverage of managerial evolution with the development of systems engineering. Systems engineering reduced much of management to scientific principles and was critical to the successful interaction that created SAGE. However, later projects proved that the strict science of systems engineering failed when the system to be engineered included a large human element. Hughes shows how a flattening of the management structure and the enhanced use of diverse teams enables the continuing Boston Central Artery/Tunnel project to proceed. Not only does that plan allow for the wide diversity of human interaction but it embraces it. Project management relies on continuing input from all facets of Boston's social and political scene to shape the project as it develops.

Hughes celebrates the role that idealism, as well as creativity, has often played in technological achievements. In today's sociopolitical environment, when many people look upon military-based research and development with a jaundiced eye, it's easy to forget that such projects as SAGE and the Atlas missile were driven by an idealistic belief in the need to protect our society from what was then perceived as a clear danger from a declared enemy.

Hughes's step-by-step examination of how each project team met its challenges is both thought-provoking and insightful. If the Dilbert's-eye view of technology and management has become a bit too depressing, here's a book that reminds us that we are capable of anything. --Elizabeth Lewis


"An important contribution to an understanding of the history, politics and culture of big science-based projects in [the Cold War] era.... Uplifting."  -The New York Times Book Review

"Hughes does an impressive job of bringing the titanic projects down to size.... Assiduously researched."  -Wired

From the Trade Paperback edition.


Looks at how the military and private industry worked together on four projects, including the SAGE interactive digital computer, the Atlas Missile Project, the Boston Central Artery/Tunnel Project, and ARPANET, forerunner of the Internet.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Thomas P. Hughes is Emeritus Mellon Professor of the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  His books include American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technology. Currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor at MIT, he lives in Philadelphia.
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