School of Information Science - Hall of Fame

Vannevar Bush
  • Vannevar Bush
  • Born: March 11, 1890
  • Died: June 30, 1974
  • Field: Information retrieval; artificial intelligence
  • Focus: Envisioned the Memex, a machine for helping to improve how people find information based on association and context. Played a significant role in the Manhattan Project.
  • Country: United States
  • Era: 1900 to 1949

Vannevar Bush was a distinguished scientist and a scholar. He served as dean of the School of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C., and was the president's top advisor during World War II. He was chairman of the President's National Defense Research Committee (1940), director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (1941 to 1947), chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (1939 to 1941), founder of the National Science Foundation, and was a central figure in the development of nuclear fission and the Manhattan Project.

As early as the 1930s, Bush was concerned about the glut of information coming out of academia and the government. He wanted to improve the way people accessed, stored, and communicated information. He recognized the limitations in how that information was accessed. In his landmark article, "As We May Think," he described a machine that he called the Memex. The Memex would help someone find information based on association and context.

Bush plays an important role in many UFO conspiracy theories as the head of Majestic 12, an organization supposedly formed by Dwight Eisenhower to investigate and later cover up an alien crash in Roswell, New Mexico.

The Vannevar Bush Award was created by the National Science Foundation in 1980 to honor contributions to public service.

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