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Celebrating 25 years: FRED was born of woman


FRED was born of woman. That may sound Shakespearean or even biblical, but it’s metaphorically true. Lora Holman, former St. Louis Fed research coordinator, brought FRED to life. FRED toddled around as a bulletin board service for a few years before Holman made a more ambitious appeal in the summer of 1995 to introduce FRED to the masses on the world wide web. She convinced senior management to take a chance on her baby, armed with an old computer┬árunning Linux, a dedicated ISDN line, and an upload process that involved magnetic tape.

FRED memo 1995

Holman described the reception from the public as “fantastic,” including numerous emails expressing gratitude and asking a variety of questions. And what parent isn’t proud to hear good words about their offspring? The good words poured in from many sources, including the New York Times, which called FRED “one of the snappiest of the Fed’s home pages.”

If Holman delivered FRED to the public, then George Essig raised FRED right, with plenty of attention and love and support. Essig, who’s on the St. Louis Fed Research web development team, was the first to work on FRED full time, in the year 2000. One of his many contributions was to store economic data in a database instead of text files, so the data could be queried and transformed. Others, such as Julie Knoll, also contributed a great deal of time, effort, and expertise.

We haven’t even mentioned this FRED graph yet, which adds a little flavor to FRED’s childhood story. It provides, with childlike simplicity, our decreasing birth rate and our increase in resources devoted to data technology.

Suggested by the FRED Team.

View on FRED, series used in this post: EXPEF518ALLEST, SPDYNCBRTINUSA


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