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Obama misspeaks on computer inventor

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2008

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

First Al Gore, now Barack Obama.

The Democrats appear to need another refresher course in the history of technology.

At Tuesday night's presidential debate at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., Mr. Obama, in talking about environmental innovation, incorrectly described the invention of the computer as a government project.

"The same way the computer was originally invented by a bunch of government scientists who were trying to figure out, for defense purposes, how to communicate," he said.

The mistake was reminiscent of Mr. Gore's comments about the Internet. When running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1999, he told a CNN interviewer: "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

The first computers were created by teams of professors and graduate students. The two teams with the strongest claim to the invention were from Iowa State University and the University of Pennsylvania, where the research originally was funded by the Army during World War II.

Mr. Obama's error was not the first time technology tripped up the 2008 campaign.

In September, an aide talking about Sen. John McCain's support for telecommunications legislation held up a BlackBerry and told reporters: "You're looking at the miracle that John McCain helped create."