Updated at 9:54 a.m. ET on October 2, 2019.
Bill Clinton, the first United States president to send an email from the White House, is famous for practically never having used it. Clinton "sent a grand total of two emails as president," he said in a 2011 talk, a claim that has since been repeated widely.
Except it's not true.
The email often cited as Clinton's first presidential email was a congratulatory note to astronaut John Glenn in 1998. The other, he said, was a note of support to troops in the Adriatic.
But there are other public records showing Clinton's early email trail. Like the fact that he had an AOL address in 1993, ClintonPz@aol.com, according to The Los Angeles Times that year. The very first message he sent as president was just a test—and there was some debate as to whether it even qualified as "electronic communication" for archival purposes since, as Reuters reported in 2004, its purpose was "to see if the commander in chief knew how to push the button on an e-mail." Here's how John Gibbons, who was the director of White House Science and Technology Policy in the Clinton administration, remembers it:
[W]e wanted to introduce the President to email and the Net. So we brought him over to the old EOB, and he sat down in front of this computer—it may have been the first time he sat down in front of a computer—and showed him how email worked and gave him his email address over across the street in the Oval Office. So he typed in his first email message. It was something like, Bill Clinton, it’s time to come home for lunch. Signed, Hillary, something like that. I saved a copy of it. That was his first email.
The president had a reputation for being more interested in face-to-face communication than his vice president, Al Gore, who was constantly on the computer in his office, according to several accounts. But Clinton did refer to himself a "cybernaut" when his administration uploaded a 1996 bill to the Internet. (It was a Telecommunications Act, naturally.) And though Clinton routinely joked about his technological cluelessness (his daughter knew more than he did, he insisted), White House aides told The Los Angeles Times that he used email before he was elected in 1992.