February 19, 2018
All The Presidents’ Cell Phones .
Today, as we honor the 45 Presidents who have led our great nation, we look back on the role that telecommunications has played in the American Presidency and in American democracy.
In the nearly 150 years since Rutherford B. Hayes first installed a telephone in the White House, no tool has played a greater role in facilitating information sharing, decision making, and diplomacy for our Commanders in Chief.
Herbert Hoover was first to have a line installed directly in the Oval Office, Calvin Coolidge made the first presidential transatlantic call in the 1920s, and by the 1960s, LBJ was making more than 40 calls a day. In 2008, Barack Obama became the first president to use a smartphone. And today, modern-era presidents trust their mobile devices for everything from extending condolences to addressing diplomatic crises.
Today, wireless also influences the way Americans connect with the White House and participate in the democratic process. During the Obama administration, 85 percent of Americans relied on mobile devices for news while 40 percent used them to search for government services or information. In May 2012, Obama became the first President to answer questions from the public via Twitter, a practice he continued throughout his presidency.
By the 2016 election, wireless devices helped define the political environment. In January 2016, 44 percent of U.S. adults were learning about the election through social media. By July, more voters were relying on candidates’ social media posts than on their websites and emails combined. And by November, digital political and newspaper sites around the country were recording all-time readership highs.
Wireless connectivity empowers the White House to react quickly and decisively to significant events, while providing the President an easy avenue to both reach and hear from the more than 300 million constituents he represents. With each administration, the mobile phone becomes a bigger part of the democratic process, and whether it’s a policy announcement on social media or a mobile livestream of the State of the Union, wireless means that the “People’s House” has never been more accessible to the people it serves.