US Presidents and the Evolution of Technology
In the Spiceworks infographic, "The Evolution of Information Technology Through US Presidential Administrations," we take a trip down memory lane to reflect on milestones in the evolution of IT over 9 decades, analyze the role of tech in US history and popular culture, and cite computing quotes from US Presidents and popular figures.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - US Presidents and the Evolution of Technology
The Evolution of Information Technology
Through U.S. Presidential
from 1930s – present
Before bacon, LOLcats and unicorns ruled social media and powerful computers fit in
our pockets, computer networks were driven by massive mainframes filled with actual
bugs, all riding on the dreams of brilliant technologists and inventors.
But we wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of the
commanders-in-chief along the way, so here are some of the milestones of tech
progress under the last 13 presidents:
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The Start of the IT Era
President Franklin D. Roosevelt
March 4, 1933 – April 12, 1945
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D . R o o s e v e lt
President Roosevelt delivers the first of 33 “fireside chats” over
evening radio addresses, charming the socks off the entire nation
with his silky voice.
“Rapid changes—the machine age, the advent of universal and
rapid communication and many other new factors—have
brought new problems.” —President Roosevelt
Attendees at an American Mathematical Society conference
are stunned after the first demonstration of remote access
computing by Bell Labs’ Complex Number Calculator. We’re
pretty sure they said, “Much remote...so wow.”
The Atanasoff-Berry Computer becomes the first electronic
digital computer and the first computer to use binary digits
to represent all numbers and data.
D . R o o s e v e lt
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ENIAC, one of the world’s first general-purpose electronic
digital computers, was initially designed for the United States
Army. Its visionary creators saw greater potential for the “Giant
Brain” outside the military; their ambition would express the
first dream for the role of computers in everyday life.
President Harry S. Truman
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953
Though a common engineering term, mathematician Grace
Hopper records the first actual computer bug—a moth stuck
between the relays on the Harvard Mark II. RIP, Bug.
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“I fear that machines are ahead of morals by some centuries and
when morals catch up perhaps there’ll [be] no reason for any of it.”
President Truman delivers the first
televised presidential address.
MIT’s Whirlwind, the world’s first real-time
computer and a government-funded
project, debuts to the public.
s. tru ma n
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UNIVAC correctly predicts presidential
victory for Dwight D. Eisenhower; polls had
Adlai Stevenson ahead by a landslide.
Humans: 0. Computer overlords: 1.
Grace Hopper completes the first
compiler, a program that allows a
computer user to use English-like
words instead of numbers.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961
MIT researchers build the TX-0, the first
computer built with transistors.
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Gordon Teal perfects the silicon-based
transistor, laying the foundations for the first
transistor radio to launch the world into a
global village of instant news and Beliebers.
Jack Kilby invents the integrated
circuit while working at Texas
President Eisenhower creates the
Advanced Research Projects Agency
(ARPA) in response to the Soviet
launch of Sputnik as part of the space
race during the Cold War.
“For every old blackboard there are now
hundreds of new electronic computers.”
President John F. Kennedy
January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963
JFK sets a goal to “landing a man on the
Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
The Apollo program would spur advances in
many areas of technology, including
telecommunications and computers.
IBM commands an
81.2% share of the
“Man is still the most
extraordinary computer of all.”
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Fairchild Micrologic designs the first integrated
circuit (IC) available as a monolithic chip; their ICs
would be used by the Apollo Guidance Computer.
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Computer geeks at MIT write the first
computerized video game, SpaceWar!, for the
$120,000 PDP 1 minicomputer.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is
indistinguishable from magic.”
—Arthur C. Clarke
President Lyndon B. Johnson
November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969
Douglas Engelbart invents the mouse,
named after its tail-shaped cord.
First dynamic RAM
Memory) chip invented.
The original Star Trek is shown for the first
time in the United States on NBC September
8, 1966, a show which continues to inspire
scientists and geeks today.
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“I believe the time has come to enlist the
computer and the satellite, as well as
television and radio, and to enlist them in the
cause of education.”—President Johnson
The Apollo Guidance
Computer makes its
debut orbiting the
Earth on Apollo 7.
DARPA launches ARPANET, the
predecessor of the Internet.
President Richard Nixon
January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974
The first e-mail is sent through
ARPANET by Ray Tomlinson, who
cemented the use of the “@” sign in
Pong is released and revolutionizes the arcade
industry while launching the modern video game
era. Coincidentally, the rate and complexity of
profane words increases among teenage boys.
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The first floppy disks become
Robert Metcalfe invents the
Ethernet working standard.
President Gerald Ford
August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977
“I recognize the need for technology that enriches
life while preserving our natural environment. My
goal is to stimulate productivity, but use technology
to redeem, not to destroy our environment.”
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Steve Wozniak and best friend Steve Jobs
design the Apple I, a single-board
computer for hobbyists.
President Jimmy Carter
January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981
Atari launches the Video Computer System
game console; productivity everywhere
The first ever spam email is sent
over ARPANET by Gary Thuerk, an
ad for a presentation by the Digital
Equipment Corporation. The
second spam email was probably
sent by a “Nigerian prince.”
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Texas Instruments Inc. introduces
Speak & Spell, marking the first
electronic duplication of the human
vocal tract on a single chip of silicon.
Luckily it didn’t say, “I’m sorry, Dave.
I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
John Shoch and Jon Hupp at the Xerox Palo Alto Research
Center invent a computer worm. Initially designed for
testing and to provide more efficient use of computers, the
worm had the unintended effect of invading networked
computers and creating a security threat. Whoops.
USENET established, enabling users to post messages and
files that could be accessed and archived. It would go on to
become a main source of large-scale interaction for interest
groups through the 1990s.
“We have the world’s highest level of technology. We have the
most skilled workforce, with innovative genius.”
President Ronald Reagan
January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
Beating out all humans in the world for the title of
"Man of the Year," the personal computer is named
"Machine of the Year" by TIME magazine
Nintendo releases the Nintendo
Entertainment System. Enrollment
to plumbing school skyrockets.
Ro n a l d
Apple Computer launches the Macintosh, the first
successful mouse-driven computer with a graphic
user interface, for $2,500. The MacWrite program is
the first to demonstrate WYSIWYG (What You See Is
What You Get) word processing.
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“Cyberspace...A consensual hallucination experienced daily
by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation... A graphic
representation of data abstracted from the banks of every
computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity.”
“I recently learned something quite interesting about video
games. Many young people have developed incredible hand,
eye, and brain coordination in playing these games.”
President George H.W. Bush
January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993
Tim Berners-Lee develops Hypertext Markup
Language (HTML) and a new technique for
distributing information on the Internet: he
calls it the World Wide Web.
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“High tech is potent, precise, and in the end,
unbeatable...Look, I want to give the high-five symbol
to high tech.”—George H.W. Bush
Senator Al Gore passes the High Performance
Computing Act of 1991. The “Gore Bill,” as it became
known, pumped $600M into computing and
networking and would help launch the Internet boom.
So he kind of did invent the Internet...not really.
“What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool
that we have ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a
bicycle for our minds.”—Steve Jobs
Linux released under the GNU General Public
License - free operating systems for everyone!
President Bill Clinton
January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001
Netscape Communications Corporation is
founded. Originally called the Mosaic
Communications corporation, Netscape
would herald the Internet boom of the 1990s.
The first White House website is launched.
President Clinton issues an executive order
forcing the heads of every federal agency to
employ IT in their operations.
President Clinton and Swedish Prime Minister
Carl Bildt participate in the first email exchange
between two heads of state.
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Yahoo is founded by Stanford graduate students
Jerry Yang and David Filo, which started out as
“Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web.”
Palm Pilot released. International community frets
about people spending too much time on
portable electronic devices.
“Ideas, information, and money cross the planet at
the stroke of a computer key, bringing with them
extraordinary opportunities to create wealth, to
prevent and conquer disease, to foster greater
understanding among peoples of different histories
and different cultures.” —President Clinton
President George W. Bush
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
Wikipedia launches; students
“Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive
a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to
help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It
would be funny if it weren’t so irritating.”
Google indexes more than 8 billion web
pages. International community worries about
people spending too much time online.
w. b us h
Facebook launches, available only to Harvard
students. International community wrings
hands over social media causing
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“The Internet has changed us. It’s changed the
whole world. It’s an amazing example of what a
commitment to research dollars can
Spiceworks founded in Austin, Texas. Millions of IT pros
use Spiceworks to get the info, advice and tools they
need to do their jobs and decide what to buy.
First Apple iPhone launches. Fretting about
time spent on phones reaches maximum
fervor; so do phone sales.
President Barack Obama
January 20, 2009 – present
President Obama begins his
weekly address via YouTube.
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President Obama selects Aneesh Chopra to be
the White House’s first Chief Technology Officer.
Apple releases the iPad, ushering in a new era of
tablet computing and people looking silly taking
photos with giant aluminum rectangles.
The number of smartphones reaches
1 billion worldwide.
The number of virtualized servers
surpasses the number of physical
servers in the world.
“Technology and the internet can empower the sorts of
conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run.”
—President Barack Obama in an AMA on Reddit
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