Al Gore May Have Invented the Internet, but Ronald Reagan Is the Father of Foursquare

Ad Age's Exclusive Ranking of Retail Check-Ins

By Published on .

As Britain's The Guardian reported over the weekend, tech-publishing icon Tim O' Reilly has already delivered the soundbite to beat at the SXSW conference in Austin. "Reagan is the father of Foursquare," he told his interlocutor Jason Calacanis in an on-stage interview -- because Reagan opened up military GPS data to the general public. As "The GPS Revolution" page of the website of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum explains,

After the downing of Korean Flight 007 in 1983 -- a tragedy that might have been prevented if its crew had access to better navigational tools -- President Ronald Reagan issued a directive that guaranteed that GPS signals would be available at no charge to the world. That directive helped open up a commercial market.

Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan

Thanks to that directive, all of us -- not just the military -- get to know that 15,051 people checked in to KFC on Foursquare in the past week. And thus the dead-bird emporium soars into our exclusive Top 10 Foursquare Retail Check-ins chart, which we produce with our editorial partner Trendrr, the social-media tracking firm.

Meanwhile, father of the internet Al Gore must be really happy that he invented Starbucks too (I kid!), because the coffee chain, which pretty much has a stranglehold on our chart's No. 1 position, surged anew this week, with an increase in Foursquare check-ins of nearly 30%. The week's biggest percentage gainer, though, was Apple, as customers mobbed its stores to buy the iPad 2.

P.S. Here's the debunking of the urban legend that "Al Gore claimed that he 'invented' the Internet."

1 Starbucks Starbucks 199,723 29%
2 McDonald's McDonald's 62,502 6%
3 Walmart Walmart 37,653 8%
4 Target  Target 35,289 10%
5 Apple Apple 26,729 53%
6 Best Buy Best Buy 17,791 23%
7 KFC KFC 15,051 New
8 Chipotle Chipotle 13,740 15%
9 Costco Costco 13,593 6%
10 Burger King Burger King 12,356 9%

Simon Dumenco, our "Media Guy" columnist, filled in on this week's charticle for Matt Carmichael, Ad Age's Director of Information Projects, who is out on assignment today. For more about Trendrr, take the Trendrr tour. Questions about this chart? Please email Matt -- and follow @adagestat on Twitter.

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