3. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for Science and Technology (Hornig) to President Johnson1


  • Measures to Attack the “Technological Gap” between the United States and Europe

At Walt Rostow’s suggestion, I am reporting for your information a number of measures that I believe could be helpful in attacking the “technological gap” between the United States and Europe. Dean Acheson discussed this problem with me last week in connection with his study for NSAM 345.2 We agreed that the basic problem of the “technological gap” relates to such fundamental issues as the size of European markets, European management procedures, and policies toward capital investment in industry, research and development and education, and that these problems could not be cured by any package of technological proposals that we might offer.

At the same time, I do believe that there are specific proposals that would point the Europeans in the right direction toward solving these problems, would have a unifying effect on Europe, and would help remove the widespread impression in Europe that the United States was trying to perpetuate the “technological gap.”

I have given some preliminary thought to the following specific proposals on which we could move relatively quickly:

NATO Computer Center. Europe is considerably behind this country in the use of modern computers which are fundamental to advanced technology, business management, economic planning, etc. Although these computers are on the open market, the required investment is too great for the smaller European countries and most industrial concerns. We could therefore propose that a very advanced computation center, using both US and European hardware, be established and operated by NATO. This center, which could be remotely connected with other facilities by existing telephone lines, could serve NATO [Page 5] governmental and industrial enterprises directly in solving military, commercial, and research problems. We would offer our assistance in organizing the operation and in introducing Europeans to the full range of possibilities involving the best modern computer equipment.3
Technological Information Service. The Europeans are very concerned that they do not have access to the advanced technology emerging from our advanced military and space projects. We have tried to make such information available to domestic concerns through such programs as the NASA Technology Utilization Program and the State Technical Service Program of the Department of Commerce. To help overcome this problem in Europe, we could propose a NATO technological information service that would perform similar services there. The participating governments would pool the relevant technological information available to them in this organization.

These are examples of the kind of proposals that we could make in this area. On the basis of my preliminary look, I think that it will be possible to put together a reasonably good package that would ease the political tensions resulting from the “technological gap” problem even though it would not solve it.

Donald F. Hornig 4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, Papers of Donald F. Hornig, Box 4. Secret. Drafted by Spurgeon Keeny on June 7. Attached to the source text is a June 7 note from Hornig to Rostow indicating that the memorandum was transmitted to Rostow for action and that a copy was sent to Francis Bator.
  2. National Security Action Memorandum No. 345 dealt primarily with nuclear planning, but in it the President also noted his “wishes to have developed other forward-looking proposals that would increase the cohesion of NATO and the North Atlantic Community.” For text of NSAM No. 345, see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XIII, Document 159.
  3. NATO discussion on and plans for a NATO computer center continued throughout the Johnson administration. A later reference is in telegram 5052 from Brussels, October 20, 1968. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, SCI 3 NATO)
  4. Printed from a copy that indicates Hornig signed the original.