The development and transfer of computing technology in postwar Czechoslovakia and Finland, two countries lying directly on the border between the two cold war blocs, were shaped by a mix of factors, from the political to the technological, in both countries. This article describes and analyzes the factors influencing the transfer of computing technology in cold war Europe on the basis of comparison of the national histories of these two frontier countries. Although the first computers were put into operation in the two countries during the second half of the 1950s, Czechoslovakia's industrial tradition concealed its gradual lagging behind Finland. During the postwar decade, the possibility of the transfer of computing technology and practices was a crucial factor in the spreading of computing technology in both countries. It was the commercial transfer of computers from the West to Finland that made their availability there, until the mid-1970s, relatively grow to three times that of Czechoslovakia. However, while the physical transfer of actual computers across the Iron Curtain was difficult, the intangible transfer of related ideas, designs, and practices was much easier. Moreover, it was not only politics that affected this technological development, but technology was also used to affect politics and form political ties.


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pp. 303-322
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