When the fiscal cliff decision was passed a few days ago, President Barack Obama wasn't in Washington to sign it. Instead, he used an autopen: a device that can be loaded with a pen, pencil, or marker to duplicate a person's signature. At the National Journal, Brian Resnick has compiled a history of the autopen and its predecessors, including the efforts taken to keep the signature safe. While Thomas Jefferson used an early machine that mirrored signatures and Harry Truman was reportedly the first US President to use the original autopen, the device was only put to use signing bills by Obama — based on a legal precedent set by George W. Bush.
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