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Technology and the Senate

From the invention of the telegraph to the latest developments in social media, technological innovations have profoundly influenced the Senate and its daily operations. When Samuel Morse successfully tested his telegraph in the U.S. Capitol in 1844, an era of "instant communication" began. "This wonderful contrivance has annihilated both time ad space," commented a reporter who witnessed the test.


Washington, D.C.—Press Reporters at the Telegraph Office in the House of Representatives Sending Off Dispatches on the Opening Day of the Forty-fourth Congress.
Telegraph Office
A picture of the homepage of the Senate's website from 1997
1997 Senate Home Page

One hundred and fifty-one years later, with the development of Internet technology, the Senate launched its first home page on the World Wide Web, again revolutionizing the way senators interact with their constituents. "The Senate needs to move into the 21st century," commented Senator Wendell Ford in 1995, "and our presence on the Web ensures that the Senate will not be left behind as this technology explodes."

Over the past two centuries the Senate has played a part in many technological advances and witnessed many milestones, from the development of railways to space travel, from telegraphs to computers, from radio to television, and beyond.


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Senate Historical Office

Historical information provided by the Senate Historical Office.


Senate's Institutional history

It was up to the first Senate in 1789 to organize, establish its rules, and set precedents that would govern its actions in years to come, evolving into a complex legislative body.