History of PsyOps Technology

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History of PsyOps Technology
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Psychological warfare[1] or political warfare[2] is basicly the idea that the best success in war is achieved by the destruction of the enemy’s will to resist, and with a minimum annihilation of fighting capacity.[3] The term psychological warfare emphasizes the use of modern concepts of psychology which are used in order to achieve the goals of an operation. While the term political warfare, although it can also be based on psychology, describes rather the medium in which the operation is going to take place: the political sphere. In both cases the frame of reference is war. Psychological warfare and political warfare is war by other means than direct combat action. Both is nonetheless military war.

From Propaganda to Strategic Communications

Church, Literacy, Press, Telegraph

  • 1415 Filippo Brunelleschi[4] conceptualises Linear Perspective.
  • 1435 Leon Battista Alberti[5], Della Pittura, establishing for the first time theory and praxis of linear perspective. On the importance of linear perspective for the construction of print and other technical media see Friedrich Kittler[6], The Perspective of Print[7]
  • 1445 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press
  • 1512 Henry VIII created in England the Royal Mail
  • 1622 The term propaganda (lat. Propagare: spreading, propagating, propagating) goes back to the Sacra Congregatio de propaganda fide[8] (1622), founded by Pope Gregory XV. The institution was inspired by the 1613 published book of the Spanish Carmelite monk Thomas A. Jesus De erigenda congregation pro fide propaganda, which dealt with the question of how the Roman Catholic Church could professionalize its missionary activity. The term propaganda, was used here for the first time in the field of communication.
  • 1637 Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking for Truth in the Sciences.[9]
  • 1665 The first English newspaper is printed
  • 1689 Locke, John. An essay concerning human understanding[10], a founding document of British empiricism.
  • 1690 The first American newspaper is printed
  • 1702 The first successful daily newspaper in England is published
  • 1718 Patent for first primitive revolving firearm called Puckle gun[11]
  • 1752 The first Canadian newspaper is published
  • 1769 James Watt improves the steam engine
  • 1770 The first association of propaganda with secret machinations of a narrow ruling elite, which gave the term a polemical meaning, took place in the Age of Enlightenment[12], when publicists criticized the Congregatio de Propaganda fide as being a secret agency trying to counter the elightment.
  • 1776 Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations[13].
  • 1783 The first daily american newspaper is published
  • 1780s 1. Industrial revolution starting with mechanization of the textile production in Britain.
  • 1789 Starting from the French Revolution the propaganda experienced a significant appreciation. In the revolutionary Paris, propaganda mainly referred to the claim of the Jacobins to export the ideals of the revolution to other countries as well. This assumption goes back to the demand of the Jacobin monk Emanuel Joseph Sieyès, de propagiens les principes de la vraie liberté. The dictionary of the French Revolutionary language defined propagande as a secret institute to reverse the world.
  • 1785 The Daily Universal Register is printed. In 1788 it is renamed The Times
  • 1791 The Observer is founded
  • 1803 The first Australian newspaper the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser is printed
  • 1806 Carbon paper is invented by Ralph Wedgwood
  • 1821 The Manchester Guardian is founded. In 1859 it is renamed The Guardian.
  • 1821 Faraday[14] demonstrates electro-magnetic rotation, the principle of the electric motor.
  • 1837 The telegraph is invented. A cable was laid across the Channel in 1850 and after 1866 it was possible to send messages across the Atlantic.
  • 1840 Rowland Hill invents the Penny Post
  • 1844 Digitized remote transmission, telegraph (Morse)
  • 1846 The first successful rotary printing press was invented by Richard M Hoe
  • 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish The Communist Manifesto[15]
  • 1860 Gustav Theodor Fechner, Elements of Psychophysics
  • 1866 Alfred Nobel creates dynamite
  • 1870s 2. Industrial revolution due to steel making process, large-scale manufacture of machine tools, advanced machinery in steam-powered factories
  • 1870 The working-class movement adopts the term propaganda and uses it positively and in parallel with the concept of agitation.
  • 1870 Louis Pasteur develops vaccines
  • 1874 The first successful typewriter goes on sale
  • 1876 Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone
  • 1880 The New York Graphic is the first newspaper to print a photo[16]
  • 1882 Frederick Taylor[17] put the first features of scientific management[18] into operation with the aim to improve industrial efficiency.
  • 1882 The American Psychological Association is founded[19]
  • 1893 Borchardt C-93 (Construktion 93) semi-automatic pistol[20]
  • 1885 Charles Sanders Peirce & Joseph Jastrow, On Small Differences in Sensation
  • 1887 Grammophon invention by Emile Berliner and Thomas Alva Edison
  • 1888 The Financial Times is first printed
  • 1893 Kinetoscope is an early motion picture exhibition device[21]
  • 1890 In the United States, where war propaganda was in a close liaison with commercial advertising, Ivy Lee founds his Public Relations Counsel[22] which was to evolve into the new communications technology Public Relations.
  • 1890 James, William, The Principles of Psychology. This monumental text can be viewed as the beginning of psychology. Online version
  • 1895 Gustave Le Bon's[23] Psychology of the Masses is published in Paris.

Radio, Television, Cinema, Worldwar

  • 1900 Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams[24].
  • 1901 Marconi sends a radio message across the Atlantic
  • 1908 Hugo Münsterberg, On the Witness Stand: Essays on Psychology and Crime[25]
  • 1910-1920 Establishing of Hollywood[26]
  • 1911 A company founded by Hollerith merges with two other companies to form International Business Machines (IBM)
  • 1913 Hugo Münsterberg, Psychology and Industrial Efficiency.[27]
  • 1914 Assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia, start of World War I.
  • 1916 Ferdinand de Saussures[28] Course in General Linguistics [29] establishes the theory of communication based on a dyadic (digital) model of signs[30].
  • 1916 Battle of Verdun[31] , largest battle of the First World War and first time in history that chemical gas is being used as large scale weapon. The event counts as the birth of the contemporary understanding of environment and space, as it integrates the air into the paradigm of war. The battle took place on the hills north of Verdun-sur-Meuse in north-eastern France[32].
  • 1917 Russian Revolution or October Revolution[33]
  • 1917 Balfour Declaration[34]
  • 1920 V. I. Lenin, Theses On Production Propaganda[35]
  • 1922 The BBC began broadcasting
  • 1922 Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion[36]
  • 1925 Television was invented John Logie Baird
  • 1927 Harold D. Lasswell, Propaganda technique in the World War[37]
  • 1927 Ivan P. Pavlov, Conditioned Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebral Cortex[38].
  • 1928 Edward Bernays, who referred to his work as psychological warfare publishes Propaganda[39]
  • 1929-1938 Great Depression
  • 1930s National Association of Manufacturers - NAM became the first industry trade association to create a PR department, launching a 13-year campaign to improve the public attitudes toward business. The campaign included movie shorts, leaflets, a radio serial
  • 1932 Konrad Zuse[40] begins with the construction of the program-controlled computer Z1[41].
  • 1933 NSDAP comes to power in Germany and constitutes a.o. a Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda[42].
  • 1933 The Frankfurt School[43] moves from Germany to New York.
  • 1933 Campaigns Inc., the first political consulting firm, was created[44]
  • 1936 BBC began regular, high definition broadcasting.
  • 1937 Alain Turing[45] sketches the structure of a machine that can be used to solve mathematical and logical problems.
  • 1938 Kristallnacht[46] marks the change from discriminating against Jews to actively persecuting and deporting them.
  • 1938 Claude Shannon applies Boolean algebra[47] to the dual system[48] and electronic circuits[49] (original text[50]
  • 1942 The US Office of War Information[51] is created.
  • 1944 Mark I Computer[52] is completed by Howard Aiken for IBM
  • 1945 Hiroshima, United States nuclear bomb on Hiroshima.
  • 1945 Nagasaki, United States nuclear bomb on Nagasaki.

Mobilization, Science, Space, Mass Communication

  • 1947 CBS and NBC begin first newscasts
  • 1947 Marshall Plan[53]
  • 1949 Founding of NATO
  • 1950 The Congress for Cultural Freedom[54] was founded. See also: The Liberal Conspiracy. The Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Struggle for the Mind of Postwar Europe[55].
  • 1950-1953 Korean War
  • 1954 IBM manufactures computers in series for the first time
  • 1955 Warsaw Pact, Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, signed in Warsaw, Poland
  • 1957 Space travel: USSR Sputnik II, Laika
  • 1960 Rise of FM radio
  • 1960 Stereo recordings and playback equipment is introduced
  • 1960 Olympic Games televised
  • 1961 Space travel: Russian cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyvich Gagarin became the first human being in space.
  • 1961 J.F. Kennedy debuts live press conferences
  • 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion
  • 1961 Berlin Wall
  • 1962 Cuban missile crisis
  • 1963 JFK Assassination is reported by television
  • 1963 Audiocassettes are introduced
  • 1965 Vietnam War
  • 1968 Space travel: US launched Apollo 8
  • 1969 ARPAnet, predecessor of the Internet
  • 1969 Space travel: Neil Armstrong’s walk on the Moon is televised in color globally
  • 1971 Microprocessor is developed
  • 1977 VHS-format videocassettes
  • 1980 Cable News Network, CNN starts
  • 1980 Color television replaces black-and-white
  • 1980 Fiber-optic cable
  • 1980 First online newspaper
  • 1981 IBM PC is introduced
  • 1981 MTV debuts
  • 1982 USA Today debuts
  • 1982 CD are introduced
  • 1985 Microsoft Windows
  • 1985 Gorbachov and Perestroika in the USSR
  • 1986 Chernobyl disaster
  • 1989 Compaq laptop computer
  • 1991 Web expands online news
  • 1991 End of Warschaw Pact and Soviet Union
  • 1994 Direct Broadcast Satellite service is launched
  • 1995 Internet Explorer is launched
  • 1997 First news blogs are introduced
  • 1997 Clinton Inauguration live on Internet
  • 1997 DVD replaces VHS

Military Intelligence Apparatus

  • 2001 9/11 reported immediately through multimedia
  • 2001 iPod and MP3 format compressed digital files debut
  • 2001 Dominance of newspaper chains and media conglomerates
  • 2001 Instant message services
  • 2002 TV standard changes to digital
  • 2002 Satellite radio is launched

Working Notes for Discussion

  • The invention of science and scientific approaches for almost every ascpect of life included also the human psyche. From the mid-19th to the beginning of the 20th century Psychology becomes Institution and science both in America and Europe.
  • In meanwhile independent America - where interestingly the first daily newspaper was published in 1883, the end of the Independence war - the term propaganda was integrated in the errupting field of Advertising and later on in the scientific context of Public Relations which was created in the end of the 19th century.
  • In Europe propaganda becomes part of the new paradigm of Nation States and is subjected under the control of the military apparatus. Or it is part of the opposition forces, the socialist movement and the communist movement.
  • After the October Revolution in Russia, the term propaganda is attributed by the West to the totalitarian communist regimes - USSR and others - while the democratic states of the West, where the media are not directly subjected to state control the governments seek actively seek to influence the media through Public Relations, External PR agencies and consultants.
  • During the Worldwars of the first half of the 20th century all segments of society become the target of mass media propaganda in East and West.
  • After the Wars, in the Anglo-American Empire that emerged victorius in the West, a burst in public relations agencies takes place. Assisted by new scientific institutions, which produce the nessecary instruments, and the technologies of mass communiation which enter the era of digital technologies in the 1980s, the field of PR constitutes a new business sector and concentrates enormous power. Notable agencies flourish and become multinational firms. In the same period the East keeps their public relations under the strict control of the communist party.
  • We can say that the Cold War is the period in which the development of media manipulation explodes due to the technological progress and the creation of even more means to influence the public. Psychology and economics combined with mass media and digital technologies enable the creation of sophisticated persuasive technologies in the second half of the 20th century.
  • Nonetheless the methods used for propaganda in the totalitarian and authoritarian states, and the meanwhile scientific field of Public Relations, Communication sciences, Media sciences and Political communications in the West, produce similar results. We may say that the term propaganda itself has become a weaponised word in the field of mass persuasion in the second half of the 20th century.
  • The 21. century begins on September 11, 2001, when the Military Intelligence Apparatus of the Anglo-American Empire displays what can be called the potential of a centralized powerstructure to reach the public of the whole world and to subject it under their information strategy.

Historical example

In their article How to detect propaganda[56] the Institute for Propaganda Analysis[57] publishes the famous seven common devices or ABCs of propaganda:
•Name-Calling. Giving an idea a bad label and therefore rejecting and condemning it without examining the evidence.
•Glittering Generality. Associating something with a “virtue word” and creating acceptance and approval without examination of the evidence.
•Transfer. Carries the respect and authority of something respected to something else to make the latter accepted. Also works with something that is disrespected to make the latter rejected.
•Testimonial. Consists in having some respected or hated person say that a given idea or program, product, or person is good or bad.
•Plain Folks. The method by which a speaker attempts to convince the audience that he or she and his or her ideas are good because they are “of the people,” the “plain folks.”
•Card Stacking. Involves the selection and use of facts or falsehoods, illustrations or distractions, and logical or illogical statements to give the best or the worst possible case for an idea, program, person, or product.
•Bandwagon. Has as its theme “everybody—at least all of us—is doing it!” and thereby tries to convince the members of a group that their peers are accepting the program and that we should all jump on the bandwagon rather than be left out.
In all of these devices it is our emotion with which propagandists work. Without our emotions they are helpless; with it, harnessing it to their purposes, they can make us glow with pride or burn with hatred, they can make us zealots in behalf of the program they espouse.

See also





  1. Wikipedia: Psychological Warfare
  2. Wikipedia: Politicial warfare
  3. LASSWELL, Harold Dwight. 1951. The Political Writings of Harold D. Lasswell. Glencoe, IL, USA: Free Press.
  4. Wikipedia: Filippo Brunelleschi
  5. Wikipedia: Leon Battista Alberti
  6. Friedrich Kittler
  7. Friedrich Kittler, The Perspective of Print, 2002
  8. Wikipedia: Congretation for the Evangelization of Peoples
  9. Rene Descartes, Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking for Truth in the Sciences
  10. Locke, John. An essay concerning human understanding
  11. Wikipedia: Puckle gun
  12. Wikipedia: Age of Enlightenment
  13. Wikisource: Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
  14. Wikipedia: Michael Faraday
  15. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto
  16. Wikipedia: Photograph "A Scene in Shantytown, New York" appearing in the March 4, 1880 edition of the New York Daily Graphic, the first halftone photograph reproduced in a newspaper.
  17. Wikipedia: Frederick Winslow Taylor
  18. Wikipedia: Scientific Management
  19. Classics in the History of Psychology: Proceedings of the Preliminay Meeting (1892), the First Annual Meeting (1892), and the Second Annual Meeting (1893).
  20. Wikipedia: Borchert 93
  21. Wikipedia: Kinetoskope
  22. Museum of Public Relations: The Public Relations Counsel
  23. Gutenberg Project: Books of Gustave le Bon
  24. Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams
  25. Hugo Münsterberg, On the Witness Stand: Essays on Psychology and Crime
  26. Wikipedia: Cinema of the US
  27. Hugo Münsterberg, Psychology and Industrial Efficiency
  28. Wikipedia: Ferdinand de Saussures
  29. Wikipedia: Course in General Linguistics
  30. Wikipedia: Sign
  31. Wikipedia: Battle of Verdun
  32. P. Sloterdijk, Air Quakes, 2004
  33. Wikipedia: l October Revolution
  34. Wikipedia: Balfour Declaration
  35. V. I. Lenin, Theses On Production Propaganda
  36. Walter Lippman, Public Opinion
  37. Harold D. Lasswell, Propaganda technique in the World War
  38. Classics in the History of Psychology: Ivan P. Pavlov, Conditioned Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebral Cortex
  39. Edward Bernays, Propaganda
  40. Wikipedia: Konrad Zuse
  41. Wikipedia: Z1 Computer
  42. Wikipedia:Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda
  43. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosphy: The Frankfurt School and Critical Theory
  44. The Traumatic Birth of the Modern (and Vicious) Political Campaign
  45. Wikipedia: Alain Turing
  46. Wikipedia: Kristallnacht
  47. Wikipedia: Boolean algebra
  48. Wikipedia: Boole's expansion theorem
  49. Wikipedia: A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits
  50. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Electrical Engineering:Shannon, Claude Elwood, A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits
  51. National WWII Museum: The Office of War Information is Created
  52. Wikipedia: Mark I Computer
  53. Wikipedia: Marshall Plan Congress for Cultural Freedom
  54. Congress for Cultural Freedom
  55. Peter Coleman, The Liberal Conspiracy: The Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Struggle for the Mind of Postwar Europe, 1989
  56. jstor: How to Detect Propaganda
  57. Wikipedia: Institute for Propaganda Analysis

Mainstream links