Vannevar Bush (1890-1974)

Vannevar Bush Photograph by Threshold Studio, Courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science Administrative Archives

Photograph by Threshold Studio, Courtesy of Carnegie Institution for Science Administrative Archives

Vannevar Bush was born on March 11, 1890, in Everett, Massachusetts. He received his D.Eng. from MIT and Harvard. He was appointed president of the Carnegie Institution for Science from 1938 until 1955. In 1940, under threat of war, Bush met with President Roosevelt and created the National Defense Research Committee, whose goal was to facilitate scientific research during the war. As head of the committee, Bush initiated the Manhattan project, contributing significantly to the Allied victory. After the war, he continued advocating for the support of basic scientific research. In his 1945 report to President Roosevelt, titled “Science, the Endless Frontier”, Bush called for the expansion of government funding to basic and applied sciences. This led to the creation of the National Science Foundation in 1950 - a government organization that funds basic research in science. He also published an essay titled “As We May Think” in 1945, in which he imagined the concept of the Memex, a device that predicted the invention of personal computers, hypertext, and the Internet. After the war, Bush introduced a fellowship program at the Department of Plant Biology in an effort to introduce bright young minds and new ideas to the institution.

--by Galyna Vakulenko (2018) Carnegie Summer Intern in the Rhee Lab

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