Laptop used by US President Bill Clinton goes up for auction
By Robert Macpherson, AFP
March 26, 2014, 1:06 am TWN
WASHINGTON--A more than 15-year old laptop doesn't go for much on eBay — unless it's the one Bill Clinton used to send the first ever U.S. presidential email.
The still-functional laptop — with Clinton's cheerful exchange with Space Shuttle astronaut John Glenn in November 1998 still on the hard drive — is the featured item in an online sale by Massachusetts-based RR Auction.
“I wouldn't be surprised if it goes for US$100,000 or more. Just the content of it is awesome,” Bobby Livingston, a spokesman for the auction house that specializes in rare and unusual collectibles, told AFP on Monday.
Glenn, a U.S. senator who in 1962 had been the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth, was on a nine-day mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery when he told NASA he wanted to email Clinton, who was in Arkansas visiting friends.
“This is certainly a first for me, writing to a president from space, and it may be a first for you in receiving an email direct from an orbiting spacecraft,” wrote Glenn, then 77.
Clinton was keen to receive the message, but when his staff couldn't readily find him a computer to do so, White House physician Robert Darling stepped forward with his trusty Toshiba and his personal AOL email address.
“Hillary and I had a great time at the launch,” wrote Clinton, referring to Discovery's liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center a few days earlier, in his reply. “We are very proud of you and the entire crew, and a little jealous.”
Kept Emails Intact
In an interview with a U.S. journalist in early 2000, Clinton said he never used email due to security concerns, but acknowledged emailing Glenn in space as well as some U.S. marines and sailors at sea at Christmas.
Prior to selling the laptop in 2000, Darling took care to keep the historic email exchange on its hard drive, and made a copy on its internal floppy drive, while deleting all other data.