How did science and technology inventions from the 1950s impact the American people?

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estoverl eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some inventions can have a powerful impact on an entire society while others impact only a small segment. There were some major science and technological inventions in the 1950s that significantly changed the culture of the American people.

One such invention is the television. For some, television is a powerful communication and entertainment tool that connects groups of people and cultures together because of the ways that it brings news and entertainment into our homes. Prior to the multimedia experience of television, only printed text and still pictures could bring far away places to those unable to travel. To others, the television negatively impacted the American family, stealing away hours that in the past had been spent in meaningful family communication and activity.

Another invention of the late 1950s thought to have changed the fabric of American culture was birth control. Prior to the time of an easy way to avoid pregnancies, families were much larger. Not only was the family unit larger but some say that the family was a much more cohesive unit, forced by lack of space and money, to spend more time together. With smaller family units it is said, came more spending money and larger homes where each member secluded themselves in different locations. In the opinion of some people, the invention of the birth control pill while giving families the option of providing more luxuries per child, also further isolated family members from each other.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Different inventions, of course, affected the American people in different ways.

For example, the hydrogen bomb was invented in the 1950s.  You could argue that this invention (along with the development of rockets later in the decade) made American life much scarier.  These inventions made people fear that a nuclear war could kill them at any moment.

On the good side, a vaccine for polio was invented during this time.  This clearly improved the lives of Americans.  This discovery made it so that they did not have to worry about themselves or their loved ones contracting this terrible disease.  In this way, life became less scary.

So, inventions of this time had a mixed impact on American life.  They could make life seem more secure or less secure.  They could also (with the development of such things as TVs) make life more convenient.  Different inventions had very different impacts.