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Posted on Oct 13, 2008 in Stuff We Like

History Animated – An Interview with Its Founder

By Jim H. Moreno

Opening screen of Midway on, a Website that animates traditional, static battlemaps. Graphics copyright James Cagney.

You could read several books and never get the same comprehension of the overall battles as with these animations.

Military history has a growing area of operations throughout the World Wide Web. The Internet now allows for this field of study, traditionally shared in verbal and written forms, to be developed into many types of media which can be brought together on a single website.

Some military history websites take this wonderful ability to display information online to new creative levels. One such is HistoryAnimated. Fifty-six-year-old webmaster and military historian James Cagney, a native of Chicago now living in Bend, Oregon, has taken the sometimes dull and stuffy routine of learning military history and given it a 21st-century makeover. Armchair General’s website writer Jim Moreno fired off a few rounds of email questions for Mr. Cagney concerning the HistoryAnimated website, and here’s the report!


ACG: Thank you very much for the interview and your time, Mr. Cagney. To begin, would you please give a brief personal history? What is your military history and computer expertise background?

James Cagney: I have been a student of military history ever since I was a little kid – starting, of course, with the great Avalon Hill board games. I read history constantly. I have a Masters Degree in Computer Science and have worked for many of the great computer/networking companies including Cisco Systems, Oracle, Tandem, NCR, and others. I was a software systems designer and troubleshooter, manager, education specialist.

ACG: What year did you begin working on HistoryAnimated, and when did it officially launch?

JC: I started with the Pacific War series in November 2005 and published "The Doolittle Raid" in January 2006 on the first website. It was a small, but incredibly interesting operation. I chose it because it was a simple, easy-to-animate operation. The first time the Doolittle Anniversary rolled around, I had 800 view that animation. The following December (2006), I started the Civil War series. It can take up to 250 hours of solid work (think Gettysburg/Overland/Midway) to research and build each one of these.

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1 Comment

  1. I get an error message when I try to open the web site for
    It was a great site to learn history. I got hooked on the Midway animation. Any news of what became of Mr Cagney’s web site?


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