[SIGCIS-Members] Origins of "archive" in computer science

Marc Weber marc at webhistory.org
Mon Aug 6 10:37:22 PDT 2018


Dear Matt,
My first thought would be to ask Charlie Bourne, who’s a pioneer of computerized information retrieval and wrote a couple of relevant books (one on information handling in general with a section on computers,  <https://www.amazon.com/Methods-Information-Handling-Charles-Bourne/dp/B000L2E846/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1533576647&sr=1-6&keywords=charles+p.+bourne>first written in 1963, second on history of computerized retrieval from 2003 <https://www.amazon.com/History-Online-Information-Services-1963-1976-ebook/dp/B009NBFYZS/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1533576563&sr=1-3&keywords=charles+bourne>). He donated his archives to us last year, including proceedings of relevant conferences going back to the late ‘50s. Let me know if you want me to put you in touch with him. 
The library science/information retrieval folks were often thinking more about these kinds of issues than computer folks at the time. Michael Buckland at the UC Berkeley i-School is another possible resource, and he in fact introduced me to Charlie.
Best, Marc

> On Jul 27, 2018, at 12:09, Matthew Kirschenbaum <mkirschenbaum at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> I've had a couple of additional backchannel responses to this (thank you) but nothing terribly decisive. Is the question too diffuse, I wonder? Too obscure? How would one go about running something like this down? What would be some good industry publications to check to try to track the emergence of "archive" as a computer systems term?
> 
> OED doesn't offer a usage in relation to computing or data before 1978, but this seems late to me; certainly Wang was using the language of an "archive" disk for much of the 1970s. 
> 
> Best, Matt
> 
> 
> On Thu, Jul 26, 2018 at 2:23 PM, Matthew Kirschenbaum <mkirschenbaum at gmail.com <mailto:mkirschenbaum at gmail.com>> wrote:
> Dear all,
> 
> I'm trying to find early exemplars of the use of the word "archive" in computer systems contexts, whether as a noun to denote an element of computer  architecture (i.e., the archive disk or archive tape) or as a verb, i.e. "I've archived those files."
> 
> Examples might include the TAR ("Tape ARchive") format, Wang's nomenclature of an "archive disk" in its systems, and Gmail's early mantra, "Archive, Don't Delete." 
> 
> I'd love to run down some early instances of this sort of thing, which I assume goes back to the mainframe era.
> 
> Thank you--
> 
> -- 
> Matthew Kirschenbaum
> Professor of English and Digital Studies
> Director, Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies
> University of Maryland
> mkirschenbaum.net <http://mkirschenbaum.net/>
> 
> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> Matthew Kirschenbaum
> Professor of English and Digital Studies
> Director, Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies
> University of Maryland
> mkirschenbaum.net <http://mkirschenbaum.net/>
> 
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Marc Weber <http://www.computerhistory.org/staff/Marc,Weber/>  |   marc at webhistory.org  |   +1 415 282 6868 
Internet History Program Curatorial Director, Computer History Museum            
1401 N Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View CA 94043 computerhistory.org/nethistory <http://computerhistory.org/nethistory>
Co-founder, Web History Center and Project, webhistory.org 

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