Technological Milestones

Fast Facts

Beginning in 1844, electronic technology fashioned an information transformation in Congress. The telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and computer revolutionized the way information was disseminated from the halls of the House of Representatives.

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Historical Highlight

Historical Highlight

For years, television cameras had covered special events in the House Chamber such as State of the Union Addresses and speeches by foreign dignitaries. It was not until the late 1970s, however, that House Floor debates were televised live./tiles/non-collection/i/i_firsts_tv_cameras_pc.xml Image courtesy of the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives For years, television cameras had covered special events in the House Chamber such as State of the Union Addresses and speeches by foreign dignitaries. It was not until the late 1970s, however, that House Floor debates were televised live.

    First official telegraph:
    On May 24, 1844 (28th Congress), inventor Samuel Morse sent a telegraph from the Capitol to his partner in Baltimore, MD.

    First telephone:
    In 1880 (46th Congress), the phone was installed in the House of Representatives lobby.



First public address system:
On February 8, 1922 (67th Congress), President Warren G. Harding was the first person to use the system in the House of Representatives for a radio broadcast when he addressed a Joint Session of Congress in the House Chamber.

First live radio broadcast:
On December 19, 1922 (67th Congress), during a House debate on a constitutional amendment to abolish tax-exempt securities.

First live television broadcast:
On January 3, 1947, during the opening session of the 80th Congress (1947–1949).

First electronic vote:
On January 23, 1973 (93rd Congress), the vote was a 15 minute roll call vote of Members, which prior to the electronic system took on average 30 to 45 minutes.

First live televised proceedings:
On March 19, 1979 (96th Congress), both the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and C-SPAN picked up the House feed and broadcast the House proceedings to the public. The first Member to speak before the television cameras was Representative Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee.

First electronic bill submission:
On April 7, 2020 (116th Congress), in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clerk’s Office began offering Members the ability to submit legislation, additional cosponsors, extensions of remarks, and general leave statements through an electronic “eHopper.” The first bill, H.R. 6459, was submitted by Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota.