Boeing at 100

This paragon of technological moxie bet heavily on outsourcing and lost. Can it recover its luster?

3 min read
Opening illustration for Numbers Don't Lie opinion column.
Illustration: Chad Hagen

On 15 July 1916, William Boeing incorporated Pacific Aero Products Co., a small Seattle company, to build light seaplanes. But much bigger achievements lay ahead. In 1939 the Boeing 314, a massive seaplane, inaugurated the U.S.–Asia service of Pan American Airways. During the Second World War, Boeing built nearly 4,000 B-29 Superfortress planes, the war’s largest long-distance strategic bombers.

In October 1958, Boeing’s four-engine 707 made its maiden flight to Paris, ushering in the jet age. During the 1960s, Boeing introduced three-engine and two-engine models for shorter trips, notably the 737, a twin jet that has become the most successful airliner in history, with 9,000 sold by April of this year. Capping it all, in 1969 Boeing introduced the 747, the world’s first wide-body jet, and powered it for the first time with energy-efficient turbofans (rather than the turbojets of yore). This plane helped make affordable intercontinental travel possible.

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The Lies that Powered the Invention of Pong

A fake contract masked a design exercise–and started an industry

4 min read
Pong arcade game in yellow cabinet containing black and white TV display, two knobs are labeled Player 1 and Player 2, Atari logo visible.
Roger Garfield/Alamy

In 1971 video games were played in computer science laboratories when the professors were not looking—and in very few other places. In 1973 millions of people in the United States and millions of others around the world had seen at least one video game in action. That game was Pong.

Two electrical engineers were responsible for putting this game in the hands of the public—Nolan Bushnell and Allan Alcorn, both of whom, with Ted Dabney, started Atari Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif. Mr. Bushnell told Mr. Alcorn that Atari had a contract from General Electric Co. to design a consumer product. Mr. Bushnell suggested a Ping-Pong game with a ball, two paddles, and a score, that could be played on a television.

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