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Saturday, February 03, 2007

January 31, 1961: Kennedy Wants More for Defense, Computers 'Come of Age'

"President Kennedy challenged Congress and the nation today to face up to grave perils abroad and a worsening economic recession at home. In his first State of the Union Message, given before a joint session of Congress, he called for executive and legislative actions to strengthen the national defenses to avert big and little wars and to spur the lagging economy," the New York Times reported on this day in 1961.

"President Kennedy's State of the Union Message today pictured the problems of the United States and the world as much more ominous and urgent than did former President Dwight D. Eisenhower's message to Congress eighteen days ago," the Times reports in another story.

"Mr. Eisenhower said grave problems lay ahead and there was no room for complacency. But the tenor of his message was that he was leaving the country in sound shape. He said: 'We have carried America to unprecedented heights.'

"But Mr. Kennedy said the American economy was in trouble and needed bolstering immediately. As for the Communist threat, he said, there will be worse news before there is better news, the tide is running now against this country and the free world, 'but turn it we must.' He said he spoke in an 'hour of national peril and national opportunity.'"

In another story, the Times reports, "Digital computers, the so-called electronic brains, have 'come of age' in masterminding industrial production processes, according to a report given yesterday at the winter meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Last year saw a rapid expansion of the use of digital computers in industrial process control, Gerhard L. Hollander said in giving a report on '1960 Computer Progress' compiled by a unit of the institute."

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