President’s Day: Adventures with POTUS and Technology

AbeLincolnBy: Deidre Doezema-Burkholder


President’s Day, a federal holiday originally meant as a day to remember our first President, George Washington, now is a day in which we remember all presidents that have served the office. In the over 200 years that our country has had a President, technology has evolved. In the interest of this holiday and technology, and with 2016 being a presidential election year, here are a few factoids about technology and the leader of the free world.


President Andrew Jackson, the 7th man to hold the position, was the first president to travel by train in June of 1833. President Jackson traveled a few miles down the road, 12 to be exact, from Relay to Mt. Claire Depot, Maryland.


While many of us are familiar with President Abraham Lincoln, the 16th to serve our country, did you know he is the only one to hold a patent? Patent #6469, “A device for buoying vessels over shoals” was revised by Honest Abe May of 1849. A couple of trips on waterways, including the Great Lakes, led him to his invention. You can see the patent details here.


Interesting enough it wasn’t until 1891 that the White House was wired for electricity. We owe our 23rd President, Benjamin Harrison, for pushing ahead with this form of technology. According to The White House Historical Association, while President Harrison may have installed the electricity, it didn’t mean he trusted the fairly new invention. The President and First Lady had the domestic staff operate the switches over the fear they might get shocked.


With social media and cell phones being such an integral part to election campaigns in 2016, I found it interesting that President William McKinley, our 25th president, was the first president to campaign using the telephone.



We blast into the twentieth century with number 26, President Theodore Roosevelt. This Rough Rider seemed to embrace new technologies. The first president to been seen in a car, the first to ride in an airplane and the first president to be filmed on the job.


It wasn’t until June in 1922 that the voice of the President, in this case 29th president Warren G Harding, was transmitted and heard on the radio. Those who listened heard the President dedicating a memorial for Francis Scott Key, the man who gave us our National Anthem.


It was nearly 20 years later that we were able to see the president on a television. In April of 1939, in beautiful black and white, we were able to watch President Franklin D. Roosevelt open the World’s Fair. We would have to wait until 1955 to see the President in “living color.”


In 1979, President Jimmy Carter was responsible for being forward thinking and installed solar-panels on the White House roof. Way to be green, number 39!



Do you wear contact lenses? So did your 40th President Ronald Regan, the first president to do so.


Finally, President Bill Clinton and the internet. He was the first president to have a White House website, to send an e-mail via the internet, and hold an online chat. Interestingly enough, his relationship with a White House intern broke online. You could read the article online before you could see it in print.


Happy President’s Day!


Deidre owns and operates Organisum: Technology Services, a business serving the West Michigan area. In her free time she likes to hike & bike local trails with friends and family when she isn’t pinning, instagram’ing or Netflix’ing.