The “black box” has become a common term for diverse kinds of opacities of modern society often at odds with values of enlightenment and transparency. Investigating the history of the black box one discovers that at a time when cybernetics was seen as the leading science, an entire positivistic theory of the black box was established. A deeper historical investigation reveals that the theory of the black box emerged from military practices originating in World War Two. An analysis of the black box that also focuses on political and cultural contexts will show tensions between a rather abstract concept and the concrete embodiments of what became the first instruments of electronic warfare.

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