Who Was Vannevar Bush?

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Dr. Vannevar Bush (March 11 1890 — June 30 1974) was an American engineer, scientist, politician, and visionary of the 20th century. Throughout his lifetime, he made vital contributions to academia, industry, and the highest levels of government.

Vannevar Bush helped develop microfilm.
Vannevar Bush helped develop microfilm.

Vannevar Bush played a critical role in helping the United States transition from wartime research during World War II to research with applications in the civilian domain. His students and those he influenced, including Claude Shannon, Douglas Englebart, and many others, went on to contribute great things to science and the world, such as information theory and hypertext. Bush received 18 honorary degrees from American universities; special recognition or awards from 3 American presidents; served as chairman or director on the boards of numerous private and governmental science and technology-related organizations; and helped found the National Science Foundation.

Vannevar Bush developed a computing device based on inventor Charles Babbage's Difference Engine.
Vannevar Bush developed a computing device based on inventor Charles Babbage's Difference Engine.

Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1890, Bush graduated from Tufts College in 1913 with a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering. Shortly thereafter, he began teaching mathematics and electrical engineering at Tufts College. Between 1916 and 1917 he received degrees in engineering from both Harvard and MIT. Between 1913 and 1917, he was with the General Electric testing department and as an inspector for the U.S. Navy; and during WWI he worked on submarine detection.

In 1919, Bush joined the electrical engineering department at MIT. In 1923, he was made Professor of Electric Power Transmission. Throughout the late 20s and early 30s, Bush and his students developed the differential analyser, a mechanical device that used a variety of complex gears and other analog tools to solve differential equations with as many as 18 variables. This was inspired by Charles Babbage's difference engine, and was an obvious precursor to the modern-day digital computer.

By 1932, Vannevar Bush was appointed Vice President of MIT and Dean of the School of Engineering. Throughout the 1930s, he focused on the information-storage capacity of microfilm, and in 1938, developed and patented a device called the rapid selector, another precursor to computers and the Internet. This device quickly shuffled between microfilm cartridges, displaying their contents on a screen. He referred to this as a "device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility." This device became commonly known as a Memex.

Vannevar Bush was elected President of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C., in 1938, one of the greatest scientific establishments in the world at the time. He influenced President Roosevelt to focus more attention on science, forging a relationship between science and the government that persists to this day. In 1940 he was appointed Chairman of the President's National Defense Research Committee, which oversaw the Manhattan Project and many other important research projects during World War II. As the war ended, Bush proposed the creation of a fundamental alliance between the government, business, and academia, eventually resulting in the creation of the National Science Foundation.

Vannevar Bush is credited by many as the best engineer of the 20th century, and the greatest champion of science since Einstein.

Dr. Vannevar Bush was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1890.
Dr. Vannevar Bush was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1890.
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov

Michael is a longtime wiseGEEK contributor who specializes in topics relating to paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism. In addition to being an avid blogger, Michael is particularly passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. He has also worked for the Methuselah Foundation, the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the Lifeboat Foundation.

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Discussion Comments


I was a young boy about 14. However, I remember the entire nightmare it was to most of the people in the U.S. and abroad. I am going by years of following this. My assumption is that President John Kennedy had a problem with "Majestic-12, If you understand who these people were, and the Top Secret project they were working on you will understand why I believe Dr. Bush a high ranking member of M.J. - 12 is related to the George Bush family.


Hello, the reason I ask this question is because I believe that the John F. Kennedy assassination is tied into the "Majestic-12", the "C.I.A." and the "Pentagon". Therefore, that would explain why Trump is having trouble releasing the Kennedy assassination documents. Are you old enough, and have the social imagination to understand where I'm going with this?


The one piece of the puzzle everyone consistently forgets about: Reggie Bush. All evidence of being related has been hidden from the public record, but the connection is undeniable - how else would he continue to get contracts after all those mediocre seasons? Because it's the perfect cover - allowing him to travel from city to city for clandestine operations to recover technology from downed UFO sites, all while going completely unnoticed, unlike a football player who is actually good.


I'm inclined to believe Vannevar was related, and Poppy's mention of a 1945 report wherein he says, parenthetically, "no relation", was but one of many attempts to dissolve any connections he has to Majestic, lest conspiracy-realist researchers trumpet such a connection to prove his own involvement, which is massive. In fact, it might be the missing link to why the Bush family was so much on the inside that 14 zygotes of Dubya were produced, to ensure at least one made it to the seat of power in 2000 to preside over the event that didn't happen in May 2003. This is why the relationships were wiped from the internet, but there's always hope someone will upload something that escapes scrutiny for awhile.


Raytheon is a weapons manufacturer for the U.S.A. and Saudi Arabia. Raytheon was founded by Vannevar Bush. Raytheon is a name that means "a law unto oneself". Vannevar Bush was doing clandestine nuclear energy work in New Mexico and Nevada and his work and the reports of his work were kept classified from the Presidents of the United States from Truman to Clinton. The Georges may have been allowed to peek but never ask. Vannevar Bush had one secret project that was leaked. It was building a nuclear fueled planetary rocket. It was probably meant to be an intergalactic rocket to travel in and visit his hive mother.


Of course Vannevar is related to George H. W. Bush. Just look at their heads. They both have that tilted slope ,which is probably unworldly. If a person could go back in time and abort the whole alien Bush tribe, what a wonderful world it would be. They are all rogue aliens. But then that may be what a nation founded on slavery needs.


Over the last few years the relationship of Prescott Bush, Vannevar Bush and John Carry has all but been wiped from the internet. Ever since the election race with George W. Bush.


Well, he certainly appears to be related through the Carlyle Group!


Vannevar Bush is *not* related to GHW Bush. Here is a quote from GHW: "In the 1945 report that led to the founding of the National Science Foundation, Vannevar Bush - no relation - wrote..."

These remarks were made at the Presentation Ceremony for the National Medals of Science Technology on November 13, 1990.


Vannevar was the great uncle of George H W Bush.


i was trying to find out where phoebe davis came from. was she related to david davis? who is related to the bush dynasty. it's popular in the bush family to use genealogical surnames as middle names, like richard davis bush. so where is hathaway from? a belgian aristocracy?


perhaps to prescott bush or later?


"Not directly related" isn't surprising. It doesn't mean that there isn't any relationship that's worth noting (oh, within three or four generations). It's of clear interest considering Gore's claim to have "invented the internet" is a heck of a lot less valid than VB's via the Memex, which, while different in tech basis, is a very close description of the internet's actual functioning.


Vannevar Bush was opposed to 'operation paperclip.'


Yeah, I'm searching for the same information. Any help would be appreciated.


Was Mr. Bush any relation to the present Bush family that presently inhabits the White House? Any relation to either George H.W. Bush or President George W. Bush? Or any member of their families for that matter? Thank you.

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