In 1969, computers were the size of rooms; computer disks the size of woks. Time spent on them was so valuable you had to hire it by the hundredth of an hour (0.6 of a minute). These impressive machines, however, had about as much computing power as the old PC that people now pass on to the kids because it is too slow. But those behemoths - the IBM 360s - were used in 1969 to send people to the moon. In the same year, the year of the Woodstock music festival and the first episodes of Sesame Street, the first Boeing 747 jumbo jet rolled out of its Seattle hangar. It was in 1969 also that, using the resources of a military budget distended by Cold War fears and the continuing Vietnam War, the US Defense Department's Advanced Projects Research Agency invented a 'packet switching' technology - better known now as the Internet.
Communication was entering an unprecedented phase of intensification; culture was flowering; information was valuable and the sky was the limit. The media, communications and culture were moving centre stage, becoming among the most dynamic areas of contemporary life.
Since 1969 computing, communication, media and the field of popular culture have changed and burgeoned. Computing is many times faster and now much more socially pervasive. International transport is now a mass medium in its own right. The Internet grows exponentially each year. The new economy has made its presence felt. But things have not changed out of all recognition. The USA is still the engine of innovation and growth, and simultaneously a source of anxiety and hostility. Jumbos are still flying. And some of Woodstock's greatest hits are still playing. People don't go the moon any more, but they do go to Disney World, which also began life in 1969.
Communication, cultural and media studies are also of this vintage; relatively young by academic standards. They grew out of the period in the 1960s and 1970s when higher education began to take modern communication, culture and media seriously. This was also the time