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The Cryotron Files
The strange death of a pioneering Cold War computer scientist
Dudley Buck was a brilliant scientist who developed or invented several early pieces of now-common technology (e.g. microchips, flash drives)in the 1950s. Like his Nobel-winning colleagues, he might have benefitted from them greatly, had he not died aged 32 of a mysterious heart attack, just after a high-profile group of Soviet scientists visited his lab on a cold war-era tour of the USA.
Buck was not the only scientist to expire that day - his colleague Dr Ridenour, chief scientist at Lockheed, also died of an unexplained heart attack. Both deaths are consistent with KGB contact-poison hits.
Recently discovered papers reveal Buck's extensive career in clandestine government work, that had led to his contact with Russia's top computer scientists. His work was filed away and rediscovered in the 1980s when it was used in research projects by NASA.
A fascinating narrative history of Cold War era computer and tech research, combining social historical elements to produce a brilliant portrait of America in the mid-20th century.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
An incredibly thorough but fully accessible deep dive into the cold war battle for computer supremacy that details the increasingly relevant - and increasingly eerie- relationship between geopolitics and technology -- Jesse Eisenberg, laywright, New Yorker contributor and Oscar-nominated actor who played Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. For me, Dudley Buck remains one of the most endlessly fascinating - and bogglingly creative - engineers of the 1950s. If one looks for him, he can be found in many of the most important projects and contexts developing electronics and computing in service of the early Cold War. I thought I knew a lot about Buck, but the Cryotron Files held many surprises: Deuterium for computer memory?! Superconducting ICBM gyroscopes?! Spy satellites?! Secret meetings with German computer-pioneer Zuse?! While I cannot vouch for everything in the Cryotron Files and differ from some of its suggestions, Iain Dey has woven very partial and confusing records into a real story that will make every reader stop and wonder what Dudley Buck could have dreamed and realized had he survived 1959, his 32nd year. -- David C. Brock, Director, Center for Software History, Computer History Museum Dey takes on the fascinating- and disturbing story of Cold War computing pioneer Dudley Buck.