20 Years of Census.gov

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Written by: John H. Thompson

Two decades ago, the World Wide Web was in its infancy compared to today and if you wanted Census Bureau statistics, you had no choice but to go to your local library to look up the information. All of that changed in 1994 with the launch of census.gov, one of the first government agencies to have a public website.

If you visited census.gov back then, you likely did so from a dial up internet connection, and you would have only found access to 1990 Census statistics.

Times have changed. Today, all of the statistics we produce are available at your fingertips and you can even respond to many of our surveys online.

Over the years, census.gov had had many “faces” as we have tried to revise the site to meet the demands of the day. Today, we are launching a new census.gov, built to showcase America’s data resources through topical navigation.

The new census.gov brings together demographic and economic content around topics such as health, income and poverty, education, housing and population.

 If you are interested in our health statistics, you can now access the “Health” web page to learn about Census Bureau statistics on disability, fertility, health insurance, healthcare industries, small area health insurance estimates, HIV/AIDS, social assistance and industries. In addition, theme pages will highlight a variety of content from working papers, publications, interactive tools and more. To help you find what you need, many of the pages also now include links to related content and popular services at the bottom.

While the first census.gov launched only five years after the world wide web began, it is not the only example of how the Census Bureau has always been on the leading edge of technology in the government. From Herman Hollerith’s first tabulating machine, used for the 1890 Census, to UNIVAC 1, one of the first civilian computers, to advancements in how we deliver our statistics to you today, we are using the latest technological advancements to better measure America.

With the launch of our Application Programming Interface in 2012, containing three decades worth of census statistics, and our mobile apps, we are taking advantage of the latest technology to change how we do business.

How will the face of census.gov and the Census Bureau look in another 20 years? No doubt the possibilities will be endless. One thing is certain, however, we will continue to use 21st century technology to meet our centuries-old mission of making the statistics that define our growing, changing nation more accessible to you than ever before.

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2 Responses to 20 Years of Census.gov

  1. Bob Marske says:

    20 years ago, you would also have found on census.gov the 1992 and 1987 Economic Census, and principal economic indicators such as monthly retail sales, housing starts, balance of trade, and durable goods orders. The Census Bureau’s economic statistics have consistently paved the way for dissemination innovation Bureau wide and Government-wide. Happy anniversary!

  2. Susan Graham says:

    Twenty years of Census.gov and they still have not learned how to compile data for the multiracial population!

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