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Magazines > Searcher > July / August 2003
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Vol. 11 No. 7 — July/August 2003
Online Before the Internet: Early Pioneers Tell Their Stories, Part 2
by Susanne Bjørner Bjørner & Associates
& Stephanie C. Ardito Ardito Information & Research, Inc.

What's What: Key Names, Acronyms, and Abbreviations

A-76 Memo — Codification of the federal policy stating that the government should not compete with its citizens (private business); sets forth procedures for determining whether activities should be performed under contract with commercial sources or in-house using government facilities and personnel. Originally promulgated through Bureau of the Budget Bulletins issued in 1955, 1957, and 1960. OMB Circular No. A-76 was issued in 1966 and has been revised frequently since.

ABI/INFORM — Business information database co-developed by Greg Payne, Dennis Auld, and Jerry Dick in 1971; now owned by ProQuest Information and Learning.

ADI — American Documentation Institute, predecessor to ASIS.

API — American Petroleum Institute. Ev Brenner managed the Central Abstracting & Indexing Service of the American Petroleum Institute for 30 years. Its early databases (APIPAT and APILIT) were originally on Orbit and today survive as WPAM on Questel-Orbit.

ASIS — American Society for Information Science. Founded in 1937 as the American Documentation Institute (ADI). Name changed to ASIS in 1968 and to the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) in 2000.

BRS — Bibliographic Retrieval Services, begun as a commercial outgrowth of the SUNY Biomedical Communication Network in 1976. In 1994, BRS was purchased by Ovid Technologies. In 1998, Wolters Kluwer bought Ovid.

CA SEARCH: Chemical Abstracts — Chemical database, variously known as CA Condensates and Chem Abs; produced by American Chemical Society.

CAB ABSTRACTS — A database of agricultural information, originally produced by the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux (U.K.) and now by CAB International (CABI).

CD-ROM — Compact Disk, Read-Only Memory, a durable medium of digital content popularized in the mid-1980s as a controlled price subscription alternative to online transactions.

COSATI — Committee on Scientific and Technical Information; sponsor of a 1968 demonstration to the U.S. government of interactive data-handling systems.

Data Central — One of the online systems shown at the COSATI demonstration by Dick Giering of Data Corporation. It later became part of Mead Data Central and led to the LexisNexis system.

Derwent World Patents Index — Database produced by Derwent Information, U.K.; now a part of Thomson Derwent.

ERIC — Educational Research Information Center, a database sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Excerpta Medica — EMBASE, a database provided by Elsevier Science B.V. (Netherlands).

Information Industry Association (IIA) — Founded in 1968 by seven member companies "to build the information industry"; merged with Software Publishers Association in 1999 to form the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA).

INSPEC — Produced by IEE (U.K.) as the database for Physics, Electronics and Computing) and corresponding to the print Science Abstracts.

MARC — Machine Readable Cataloging, an interchange format for bibliographic data. MARC became a U.S. standard in 1971 and an international standard (UNIMARC) in 1973.

Mead Data Central — An early subsidiary of the Mead Corporation, a paper production company, formed by Mead's acquisition of Data Corporation; owner of Data Central, an early online system. Became LexisNexis, now owned by Reed Elsevier.

MEDLINE — Medical Literature, Analysis, and Retrieval System Online (originally known as MEDLARS and operated as a system by NLM, the U.S. National Library of Medicine). Records are indexed by the medical taxonomy MeSH.

NASA/RECON — REmote CONsole. NASA's "first multi-site" online bibliographic system, created in 1968.

National Agricultural Library (NAL) — A database, now called AGRICOLA, produced by the U.S. government library.

NLM — National Library of Medicine. Publisher of Index Medicus, comprising the content of MEDLINE and PubMed; also produces the MeSH (Medical Subject Headings) taxonomy.

NSF — National Science Foundation. Established by Congress in 1950. During the 1950s and 1960s, NSF funded a number of significant information retrieval projects.

NTIS — Database provided by the National Technical Information Service, U.S. Department of Commerce.

OCLC — Founded as Ohio College Library Center, originally to provide cooperative cataloging; now known as OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), a worldwide, multiservice organization.

Predicasts — Using Sam Wolpert's detailed Predicasts indexing system, the PROMT (Predicasts Overview of Markets and Technology) database and F&S Index became two of the earliest sources of business information online. Ownership of PROMT has gone from Predicasts to Information Access Company and now resides with Gale Group.

Psychological Abstracts — Database produced by the American Psychological Association; now known as PsycINFO.

SUNY Biomedical Communication Network — Online bibliographic retrieval service developed by Irwin Pizer at SUNY Upstate Medical Library in 1968. In 1976, Jan Egeland and others commercialized the service, which became known as Bibliographic Retrieval Services (BRS).

Telenet — First packet data communications carrier. Sold to GTE in 1979, subsequently becoming the data division of Sprint.

TRADELINE — Tradeline and Tradeline International, offering historical financial information provided by; available via a gateway service from Dialog and searchable via protocols.

Tymnet — Commercial computer network, created by Tymshare, Inc., and used for remote login and file transfer. The public network went live in November 1971.

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