Library Technology Timeline

From Clay Tablets, to Scriptoriums, to OPACs:
A chronology of the first use of a technology in a library

     
1945 - 1950
 
1950 - 1960
 
1960 - 1970
 
1970 - 1980
 
1990 - 2000
   
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1980 - 1990
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1980
“The primary publishing division of the American Chemical Society in Washington was the first to experiment with ways of putting the full-text of one of their primary journals on-line. In 1980, the project was extended: at the time, “the American Chemical Society (ACS) published 16 primary research journals; it was independent of the CAS division (Chemical Abstracts Service, producers at the time of the leading on-line chemical database) but relied on them for technical input. During 1980, Dr. Lowen Garson and Stanley Cohen of ACS took one journal, “Journal of Medicinal Chemistry”, and made it available as a full text test file on the Bibliographic Retrieval Service (BRS) for the very first time in the United States. Some 980 documents were involved which included all the articles from 1976 – 1978; the full text amounted to 16 megabytes of storage (Thompson, 1982, p. 88).”

Source: Thompson, J. (1982). The End of Libraries, p. 88.


1980
“In October, November, and December of 1980 a research project took place endorsed and supervised by the Research Department at OCLC which involved the first ever “home delivery of library services”. Dubbed the Channel 2000 project, this research brought together the cooperative efforts of the Public Library in Columbus and Franklin County Ohio along with “QUBE” a local cable television station in Columbus Ohio at the time. The experiment itself was called the “Home Book Club” project and it involved a small studio audience and a large home audience who could touch-in on their cable television console and/or call in on the telephone to take part in a televised book discussion. Indeed, the Channel 2000 project linked 200 Columbus-area participants’ television sets with OCLC computers and associated data bases through the public telephone network to provide a variety of services including access to a public library catalog, a video encyclopedia, public information, a community calendar, home banking services and much more (Ladenson, 1981, p. 64 & 71).

Source: Ladenson, A. (1981). Current Trends in Library Automation, p. 64 & 71.


1981
In early 1981, a system was written on a Radio Shack TRS-80 I for the Glendora (California) Public Library by its director, John Jolly. He used ROM Level II Basic and a disc-operating system from Radio Shack called “Apparative.” The TRS-80 I model had 48k of main memory and used two 75k disc drives. The system accepted acquisitions data and printed order forms and retained the records on a disc file. Update, receipt and cancellation programs all accessed the online database. An in-process list was generated which tracked each item from date of order to two months after receipt. The vendor file had online update capability. In addition, other programs which ran on the TRS-80 I included a list of city employees with salary, benefits and personnel management information. Because of this, the program more than justified to the city the purchase of the TRS-80 I for the library. (Smith, 1982, p. 30).

In 1981, the Integrated Library System (ILS) was written for the National Library of Medicine (NLM) to run on several machines including an LSI 11/23, one of the larger microcomputers developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) at the time. A typical configuration to run the software included the microcomputer, a video terminal, a printer, and a disc storage of about 64 megabytes, which all cost around $50,000. It was expandable to 4 CRTs, 256 megabytes, and had an online interface to an OCLC terminal. The software was written in MIIS/MUMPS and, since the project was federally sponsored, it was available under a license from the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) (Smith, 1982, p. 30).


Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
An acquisition system that was under development in early 1981 was written by John Blair at Texas A&M Medical Sciences Library. The system ran on five interlinked Micromation computers. In addition to acquisitions, it handled the general accounting for the College of Medicine. A project was also underway in 1981 to allow remote users to communicate with the reference desk by electronic mail to transmit materials requests and reference questions and to receive research results. A microwave link at the time was the first to replace traditional telephone lines (Smith, 1982, p. 30).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
Southern Illinois University was a real hotbed of microcomputer activity in 1891, using an Apple II+, programmers there wrote a program to index a collection of 78rpm records. A sorting program called “Data Cope” was used successfully to sort the data on floppy discs into the desired order. The system was expanded to incorporate a 10-megabyte Corvus disc (Smith, 1982, p. 31).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
The University of California at Davis used a DEC LSI 11/2 to build a cataloging database. The system used a vendor-developed text-editing package and a locally developed key-entry package. It used DEC’s RT / II operating system and was written in Frotran and Macro Assembler (Smith, 1982, p. 32).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
The School of Library and Information Science at the University of Missouri, Columbia, used a DEC LSI 11/23 to build an in-house automated reference database with three input terminals and dual floppy discs. The system ran on software purchased from Charles River Data Systems. (Smith, 1982, p. 32).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
In 1981, the University of Nebraska used a Mohawk Data System, Series 21 for data entry to a batch acquisition system. The computer had 48k of core memory and used two eight-inch floppy diskettes with 500k of storage. The CPU for the system was a Z80-based Intel microcomputer and used Mohawk’s Formattted Data Entry Package (Smith, 32).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
The University of Tennessee used an IBM 52800 to collect data for its library database, which resided on the university’s DEC 10 system. The 5280 provided prompts by field for data entry, and used floopy-disc mass storage. It also had a communication interface to transmit the recorded data and supported multiple terminals (Smith, 1982, p. 33).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
In early 1981, Gerald Lundeen, from the Graduate School of Library Studies at the University of Hawaii wrote a program to generate routing slips for journals received at the GSLS Library on a TRS-80-I (Smith, 1982, p. 33).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
An early application of microcomputers in media centers occurred at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and it was the Children’s Media Database developed by Ted Hines on an Apple II+ (Smith, 1982, p. 34).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
In early 1981, the Health Science Library at St. Luke’s Methodist Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, did development work on an Apple II+ which resulted in the ability to automate their audio-visual inventory system. Staff members used the Apple II+ computer to generate book orders and keep interlibrary loan statistics, and they also developed CAI (Computer Assisted Instruction) for user orientation and continuing education activities at the hospital (Smith, 1982, p. 35).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
In 1981, the School of Library and Information Science at Indiana University developed the first media equipment control system on a Vector Graphics microcomputer (Smith, 1982, p. 35).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
In 1981, UCLA experimented with its REFLES system – Reference Librarian Enhancement System. It was designed to run on several different microcomputers and contained a database of search strategies and ephemeral data (Smith, 1982, p. 35).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
In 1981, the Cincinnati Country Day School Library created subject bibliographies using a program developed in their library using an Apple II+ microcomputer (Smith, 1982, p. 35).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
In 1981, the University of Missouri, Columbia, developed a program on a TRS-80 which the local public library used as a Telnet host. The program enabled the library to communicate with other libraries within the local and state library networks regarding interlibrary loan requests and general electronic mail messages (Smith, 1982, p. 35).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
In 1981, Southern Illinois University used an Apple II+ microcomputers to great advantage in the library’s Reserve Book Room. Using Apple-Writer, which they purchased for $75, the staff sent form letters to the faculty requesting and confirming reserve lists. They also used the program to produce bibliographies and search guides for the Library instruction Office. As items were recalled or requested, they were noted in the system. The output served as a “high activity” book report, from which the subject librarian considered items in the collection for duplication (Smith, 1982, p. 37).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
In 1981, Southern Illinois University used an Apple II+ and VisiCalc spreadsheet software programming to produce comparative and cumulative statistics for the library’s circulation department. A monthly traffic count was maintained, as were the Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS) reference statistics. Because of the Apple II+, what use to take the staff three days to do was reduced to 40 minutes. Additionally, they were able to generate data that were impractical to collect manually (Smith, 1982, p. 38).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
Edunet, a subsidiary of Educom, announced in 1981 the availability of its EASY network access system. Developed at the University of Wisconsin, the system used an Apple II+ microcomputer which acted as an interactive terminal to upload files from diskette to Edumail and download messages to diskette to be examined offline. Connect time on the then Telenet communication protocol was reduced drastically, thereby cutting the costs of electronic mail on the system (Smith, 1982, p. 40).

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1981
In 1981, the Palo Alto (California) Public Library purchased several microcomputers through its Friends of the Library group for use in their Children’s Room. The library stacked programs on cassettes for use in machines, which were heavily used and received enthusiastic response.

During the same year, the Ohio State University installed coin-operated Ataris in its Browsing Room and West Campus Learning Resource Center. Each location had an Atari 800, a color monitor, a cassette deck, and prerecorded software. The vendor which supplied the microcomputers, Computer Bus, collected the first $25 of income per machine per week while the library kept the balance. The user paid 25cents for a 15-minute block of time.

Source: Smith, L. C. (Ed.). (1982). New information technologies – new opportunites. Urbana Champaign: Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois.


1982
"In 1982, the Library of Congress embarked on an Optical Disc Pilot Program, divided into print and nonprint experimental projects, in an attempt to determine the feasibility of using the optical disc medium as a preservation and high-speed access device for library materials."

Source: Hildreth, C.R. (1987). Library Automation in North America: A Reassessment of the Impact of New Technologies on Networking, p. 100.


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