How Military Tech Changed IT: A Memorial Day Retrospective - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
IT Life
News
5/25/2015
08:06 AM
David Wagner
David Wagner
Slideshows
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
100%
0%

How Military Tech Changed IT: A Memorial Day Retrospective

In honor of Memorial Day, we laud the IT technology the military helped develop.
Previous
1 of 10
Next

(Image: Aaron Ansarov via Wikipedia)

(Image: Aaron Ansarov via Wikipedia)

Happy Memorial Day from a grateful InformationWeek staff. IT has always been a major part of the military. In fact, you could make the case that the military invented Information Technology. The military certainly pioneered some of the most important breakthroughs in IT.

Originally, I envisioned this as a tribute to individual service men and women who helped pioneer IT. But I came across two problems with that. First, the use of civilian contractors in some cases made it difficult to tell which person within or outside the military deserved credit. Second, individual credit isn't high on the list of military priorities. They like to tell the story of teams. To honor that, it seemed better to think of the achievements of the military as a whole, rather than specific people (though there is one I chose to single out). As in all areas of the military, there are simply more heroes than possible to name.

Whether you are talking about code-breaking and intelligence efforts, or the realization that large-scale operations required the gathering, storage, and retrieval of massive amount of intelligence data, the military has been looking for ways to harness information since before the computer.

When veterans returned from World War II and took jobs in the private sector, they brought what they had learned about management, the need for intelligence data, and basic information organization to their new jobs. Meanwhile, the military kept funding computers that would eventually find their first private-sector customers among these veterans who knew the value of data.

In honor of Memorial Day and the service of our veterans, let's see how the military pioneered IT for us all. Once you've checked out our list, share your comments. And if you are, or have been, in the military, we humbly thank you for your service.

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Previous
1 of 10
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/31/2015 | 12:20:07 PM
Re: And now the less sugar coated accolades of the military
@asksqn- Well, I let ARPAnet stand in for all of DARPA (DARPA used to be ARPA). I really didn't want to get into some of the more nefarious creations of DARPA. But they did give us the most important invention of recent history so I felt like that was enough. 
David Wagner
100%
0%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/28/2015 | 5:50:33 PM
Re: How Military Tech Changed IT: A Memorial Day Retrospective
@zerox203- You're right. Hopper reverberates through modern IT like few of her era do. I don't know if she knew it at the time, but while so many people were applying themselves to hardware, she gravitated to software long before the software revolution. A true visionary.
David Wagner
100%
0%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/28/2015 | 5:46:51 PM
Re: How Military Tech Changed IT: A Memorial Day Retrospective
@progman2000- Yes, I'm pretty sure that requires we take Zerox203's geek card until he makes amends by learning to beat a computer at tic tac toe.
David Wagner
50%
50%
David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
5/28/2015 | 5:43:27 PM
Re: new technologies in our horizon
@mak63- I think it is fair to say military technology is a part of solving a lot of the problems you mention. If it weren't for satellite images,for example, we'd have no hope of solving world hunger, climate change, overpopulation issues, etc.
InformationWeek Is Getting an Upgrade!

Find out more about our plans to improve the look, functionality, and performance of the InformationWeek site in the coming months.

Commentary
New Storage Trends Promise to Help Enterprises Handle a Data Avalanche
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author,  4/1/2021
Slideshows
11 Things IT Professionals Wish They Knew Earlier in Their Careers
Lisa Morgan, Freelance Writer,  4/6/2021
Commentary
How to Submit a Column to InformationWeek
InformationWeek Staff 4/9/2021
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
The State of Cloud Computing - Fall 2020
Download this report to compare how cloud usage and spending patterns have changed in 2020, and how respondents think they'll evolve over the next two years.
Video
Current Issue
Successful Strategies for Digital Transformation
Download this report to learn about the latest technologies and best practices or ensuring a successful transition from outdated business transformation tactics.
Slideshows
Flash Poll