May 31, 2010
Season 1 Episode 12
America booms, in population and prosperity. The "baby boomers" are the next generation to reinvent America. Powerful new technologies transform the nation. Television brings the world into the nation's living rooms, and changes lives and values in unexpected ways - but this is not just about entertainment. Just as newspapers shape America's identity in the Revolution and its sense of self in the Civil War, now television shapes a distant war in Vietnam and the response of all Americans to their changing society. The conflicts of the late 1960s and 1970s remind America of the divisions that opened up before the Civil War, but the boom of the 1980s heralds better times, with a confidence that mirrors the 1920s. A piece of plastic, the credit card, shapes the decade, creating new affluent classes, like the ‘yuppie' while the nation spends. The government spends too: on the technology that drives the last phase of the Cold War and puts the Shuttle into space. But as America reaches once more for the stars, technology meets tragedy in the Challenger disaster. As Americans have often discovered over 400 years, Pioneers sometimes have to pay the ultimate price. Innovation and a new California Gold Rush; the biggest technological breakthroughs yet are the personal computer and the internet. Technology transforms America, just as the telegraph and railroad once did. America‘s confidence is rocked by 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina - but it is still the world's superpower. As the nation launches into the 21st century, what does the future hold? Where is the next new frontier?