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We examine the historical development of astrophysical science in Antarctica from the early 20th century until today. We find three temporally overlapping eras with each having a rather distinct beginning. These are the astrogeological era of meteorite discovery, the high energy era of particle detectors, and the photon astronomy era of microwave, sub-mm and infrared telescopes, sidelined by a few optical niche experiments. The favourable atmospheric and geophysical conditions are briefly examined, followed by an account of the major experiments and a summary of their results. A scientific effectiveness analysis of the various projects is presented quantitatively and we conclude with an outlook of what is to come in the 21st century.