Friday / Weekend Open Lines

Friday, August 12th. This date 35 years ago is significant in the advance of the digital age. On August 12, 1981, IBM introduced its model 5150 — which soon became known simply as the “PC.” There had been consumer computer models for some years before, such as the early Apple and Commodore, but the IBM machine marked a turning point in acceptance due to the manufacturer’s prominence. The company was famous for its pioneering, large mainframe computers, and even by 1984, barely over 8 percent of American households had personal computers. Now, about 84 percent of American households have computers, with the Asian-American population’s figure reaching 95 percent. Over 96 percent of college graduates live in homes with at least one computer. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.

Saturday, August 13th.  At least since the oil embargo of 1973, the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel has been closely followed.  A portion of the price is due to the Federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gas, and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel.  State taxes on fuels vary widely, but the national average is greater than the Federal amounts. The highest state tax plus other fees on gasoline is 50.3 cents per gallon, levied in Pennsylvania, which also leads in taxing diesel fuel, at 64 cents per gallon.    There are nearly 112,000 gas stations in the U.S. — over 100,000 fewer than in 1967. Around 86 percent of today’s gas stations are connected with convenience stores. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.

Sunday, August 14th. Preserving Social Security is a continuing concern in an increasingly aging America. The demographic profile was different on this date in 1935, when the program was signed into law by President Roosevelt. The program aimed to provide security to retired workers over 65, most of whom had no pension, and life expectancy at birth was just 58 years for men and 62 for women. The first monthly check under the system was for $22.54, issued in January 1940. Now, there are 40 million retired workers receiving Social Security benefits averaging about $1,340 a month. Current life expectancy at birth is roughly 77 years for males and nearly 82 years for females. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online at <>.