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The Cryotron Files: The Untold Story of Dudley Buck, Cold War Computer Scientist and Microchip Pioneer

The Cryotron Files: The Untold Story of Dudley Buck, Cold War Computer Scientist and Microchip Pioneer

by Iain Dey, Douglas Buck


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Dr. Dudley Allen Buck was a brilliant young scientist on the cusp of fame and fortune when he died suddenly on May 21, 1959, at the age of 32. He was the star professor at MIT and had done stints with the NSA and Lockheed. His latest invention, the Cryotron—an early form of the microchip—was attracting attention all over the globe. It was thought that the Cryotron could guide a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles to their targets. Four weeks before Dudley Buck’s death, he was visited by a group of the Soviet Union’s top computer experts. On the same day that he died from a mysterious sudden bout of pneumonia, his close colleague, Dr. Louis Ridenour, was also found dead from similar causes. Two top American computer scientists had unexpectedly died young on the same day. Were their deaths linked? Two years old when his father died, Douglas Buck was never satisfied with the explanation of his father’s death and has spent more than 20 years investigating it, acquiring his father’s lab books, diaries, correspondence, research papers and patent filings. Armed with this research, award-winning journalist Iain Dey tells, with compelling immediacy, the story of Dudley Buck’s life and groundbreaking work, starting from his unconventional beginnings in California through to his untimely death and beyond. The Cryotron Files is at once the gripping narrative history of America and its computer scientists during the Cold War and the dramatic personal story of rising MIT star Dudley Buck in the high-stakes days of spies, supercomputers, and the space and nuclear race.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781468315776
Publisher: ABRAMS
Publication date: 10/09/2018
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Iain Dey is the Business Editor for The
Sunday Times and was previously the paper’s New York correspondent and deputy business editor. He was named Business Journalist of the Year in 2010 for his coverage of the financial crisis. The Cryotron Files is his first book.

Table of Contents

1 Project Lightning 11

2 Santa Barbara Sound Laboratories 19

3 The V-12 Program 31

4 Seesaw 41

5 Operation Rusty 51

6 Project Whirlwind 59

7 Memory 71

8 Forging Bonds 83

9 Project Nomad 95

10 Two Small Wires 107

11 The Cryotron 113

12 Lab Rats 123

13 The Missile Gap 141

14 Fame 153

15 The Post-Sputnik Effect 167

16 A Reciprocal Arrangement 181

17 The Missile Men 191

18 The Russians have Landed 199

19 A Package 219

20 The Extra Pieces of the Puzzle 231

21 Postscript 259

List of Interviewees 263

Chapter Notes 265

Acknowledgments 273

Index 275

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