- Bush, Vannevar
- (1890-1974)Engineer and physicist Vannevar Bush was born in Massachusetts. He graduated from Tufts University in 1913 and worked for General Electric from 1913 to 1914. He attended Clark University briefly in 1915 and took on a teaching position at Tufts. Bush completed a doctorate in engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Harvard University in 1916 and resumed his teaching position in electrical engineering at Tufts. During World War I, Bush was a consultant with the American Research and Development Corporation, and he designed devices for locating submarines. In 1919, he joined the faculty at MIT, and in 1931 he became vice president and dean of engineering. He also continued to work with industry and was linked to a number of inventions, most notably a differential analyzer. He also began work on the idea for a system of storing information that he called the “memex,” a forerunner of the Internet. His proposal for a method to store fingerprints on film was turned down by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 1938, Bush became president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW), one of the largest research organizations of the day. From 1939 to 1941 he chaired the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and he continued to serve on the committee during World War II. However, his most significant role came in June 1940 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt responded to his suggestion and created a National Defense and Research Committee with Bush as its chair. In 1941, this became the Office of Scientific Research and Development. After the war, Bush called for the creation of a National Research Foundation in his report Science, the Endless Frontier (1945), and this eventually emerged as the National Science Foundation in 1950. Bush returned to CIW, where he worked until retiring in 1955. He was chair of the MIT Corporation from 1957 to 1959 and director of American Telegraph and Telephone from 1947 to 1962. He was awarded the Medal of Merit by President Harry S. Truman and the National Medal of Science by President Lyndon Johnson in recognition of his contributions to scientific research and development.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.