The Washington Post

White House computers had floppy disk drives

Pre-Obama, White House computer systems were out of date. (IBM ARCHIVES)

Or close to it, according to the White House’s chief information officer. Brook Colangelo, CIO of the Executive Office of President, told an audience of fellow techies that during his first few days on the job, he realized that almost all of the technology being used was positively retro.

Colangelo said some computers even had floppy disk drives (insert gasps from the crowd), according to a Computerworld story about the speech, delivered to a technology convention in Phoenix. He had to deliver such outdated machines to top officials, including Rahm Emanuel, who was then Obama’s chief of staff.

According to Computerworld, “The White House CIO office had one data center and no redundancy,” he said, shortcomings that led to crashed e-mail servers and caused White House systems to be down about a quarter of the time in the administration’s first 40 days.

The systems have since been updated to meet 21st century standards — and perhaps the White House can find a museum that might be interested in displaying those noisy dot-matrix printers.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.


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