Program Description: "Gamblers"
In the years following World War II, American enterprise, fueled by government investment and postwar affluence, went global. By marketing both the substance and aura of the American experience, large corporations created iconic products recognized the world over.
They Made America's "Gamblers" program looks at innovators in the fields of aviation, electronics and leisure -- industries that would define the second half of the 20th century and embody the commercial dominance of the U.S. in our time.
Juan Trippe founded Pan Am in 1927, but it was in the 1950s that Trippe most profoundly revolutionized air travel. The man behind the birth of mass aviation pushed Boeing and Pratt & Whitney to come up with a jet that would carry 200 people across the Atlantic Ocean in less than seven hours. The Boeing 707 made international travel affordable for millions of ordinary Americans and travelers worldwide. His vision would transform the very meaning of a global world, and turn Pan Am into an icon.
In 1959 Ruth Handler invented Barbie, the most successful doll of the 20th century and a true cultural icon to this day. Handler's bold decision to create an adult-looking doll and market it directly to the post-World War II baby boom population changed the toy and entertainment industry forever. Idolized and vilified, Ruth Handler's doll has had an extraordinary impact on the changing image of women and womanhood over the past fifty years.
Thomas Watson, Jr.
Thomas Watson, Jr. was the man whose vision brought IBM into the computer age -- and the nascent computer industry of the 1950s and 1960s into ever greater utility. Through the powerful company he inherited from his father, Watson Jr. challenged his own team and his competitors to develop cutting-edge information technology that became the foundation for applications that remain in use today. In 1964, he bet his reputation and his company on the idea of a family of compatible computers that could fill every data-processing need -- the legendary System 360, which would revolutionize the computer industry.