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By the 1960’s, there were seven                    manufacturers building computers for use by governments and large corporations.  International Business Machines (IBM) was the largest.  The others were Burroughs, RCA, Control Data, Univac, Honeywell, NCR and General Electric (GE).  The Bank of America contracted with GE to manufacture 40 computers to install across California for their check handling processes.[1]
                                                                               In 1954, Ronald Reagan was hired by General Electric to be their spokesperson for GE Theatre.  The Theatre was a TV entertainment

program that was used as a platform to sell GE’s products and vision.  Reagan worked for Lemuel Boulware at GE.  During World War II, Boulware was Vice Chairman of the War Production Board (WPB).[2]


The purpose of the WPB was to convert civilian industry to war production and to manage war material procurement.  Propaganda was a major component of wartime production.  It was used to build support for the war effort – telling people what they should think and how they should act[3].  In 1945, Boulware was hired by GE to be head of their affiliated manufacturing companies for his expertise in management. “He was the author of two books.  The first, “The Truth About Boulwarism” (1969; Bureau of National Affairs”), using General Electric as an example, dealt with measures that business executives and their companies could use to gain public confidence and with steps to help workers understand business economics”.[4]   


About 25 percent of Reagan’s time with GE was spent touring GE factories, finding out about the employees, their beliefs, desires and fears.  At the same time, he promoted GE’s policy of communicating business economics wrapped in the kind of folksy, old-fashioned Americanism that made Reagan one of the most popular public figures in American history.   Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying about his time at GE:  (it was) “a post graduate course in political science for me.  I am seeing how Government really worked and affected people in the grass roots of America, not how it was taught in school.”[5]  


Frontiers of Progress refers to a GE Sales Meeting in Apache Junction, Arizona where Ronald Reagan gave a speech[6] where he said, “Webster has defined a frontier as: An advanced or not fully explored region through accelerated improvements of its present products and their related facilities, and through added research and development. General Electric recognizes the computer business is an exciting frontier.  The traditional pioneering efforts of the Company in this field have already resulted in dramatic new technologies”.


[i] Ibid.

[2] New York Times, Joan Cook, November 8, 1990, Obituary, Lemuel Ricketts Boulware, 95; Headed Labor Relations for G.E.,

[3] Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture, War Production Board,;  Also Lew Rockwell, Karen De Coster, Propaganda’s Fools,

[4] IBID …4

[5] GE website, Celebrating the Centennial, Ronald Reagan & GE, Progress Reports, GE Theatre at the Reagan Museum Opens,

[6] Southwest Museum of Engineering, Communications and Computation, General Electric, Museum Archive, Frontiers of Progress – GE Computer Division,

National Sales Meeting Agenda,