The United States government relies on an antiquated piece of equipment put in place during the Franklin Roosevelt administration called the Autopen. The machine, dubbed "Robot Pen," can reproduce the signature of "time-starved senior leaders and presidents." Despite being called as "not lasting" by its creator, the device, which was technologically novel for its time, can "greenlight projects, disburse federal money, even launch a Navy ship or two."
The biggest government inventory of autopens is in the military, federal contract data show. At Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein prefers to personally sign certificates for commendations. But sometimes hes too busy overseeing the services largest fighter wing. The autopen steps in.
We could go all digital with these meritorious service medals and just put them into the [airmens] records, said Lt. Col. Matthew Warner, Rothsteins chief of staff. But they want to make sure that 20 years later the person has that certificate they can show their grandkids.
For a time when he was defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld used his autopen to sign condolence letters to families of deceased service members, but he abandoned the practice after lawmakers criticized him.
Even as it flourishes inside government, the pen has already entered the realm of historical artifact. Its the last in an exhibit of signatures dating from 1783 that opened last month at the National Archives.
The autopen makers admit to some surprise that theyre still in business.
The above image is from the Wikipedia entry on the Autopen.
|Documentary from the 60s on the Apollo Guidance Computer|
|The year 2008 in photographs|
|Floating Island Villages from Peru|
|Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century|
|"A few rare minutes, occurring at a rate of about eight per decade, actually contain 61 seconds."|
|Schools Monitoring Students' Social Media Feeds|
|WannaCry is Childsplay Compared to This|
|"They don't want to believe that their own intelligence is deterministic."|
|“It’s not something you would expect to see there and not something we’ve seen there before.”|
|“Making paper out of stone.”|
|"The first to target civilians and the first such malware built to target a nation’s power supply."|
|“Drone carrying defibrillators could begin operating in Sweden.”|
|"Is meant to produce more energy than it consumes."|
|“We have to forget steel as a core employer.”|
|"Its tilted axis makes orbit, showing the position of the sun and the time."|
|A Simple Task for CRISPR|
|Making a Movie Inside a Video Game|