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

Brian Berg brianberg at gmail.com
Mon Aug 6 13:53:13 PDT 2018


DIALOG is still being used today (as ProQuest Dialog
<https://www.proquest.com/products-services/ProQuest-Dialog.html>) - and it
thus has been in continual use since 1966.  I documented it here
<http://ieeemilestones.ethw.org/Milestone-Proposal:The_DIALOG_Online_Search_System,_1966-1970>
with an application for an IEEE Milestone which is due to be considered by
the IEEE History Committee this October.  I worked with Roger Summit, whose
PhD thesis was the genesis of this system.

I can ask him about the word "archive."
_________________________
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<http://www.SiliconValleyHistory.com/> Chair


On Mon, Aug 6, 2018 at 12:36 PM, Mike Humphries <mhumphries at mindspring.com>
wrote:

> Don’t know if this is helpful in your context-
>
>
> Around 1974 I sold access to customers (including The Electric Power
> Research Institute) in the SF Bay Area to a service that my company
> Tymshare had made available online. It was a system for retrieving
> abstracts from a large number of publications and papers.
>
>
> It was called DIALOG and my understanding is it was produced by Lockheed
> with government funding from NASA. My customers for this application were
> mostly corporate librarians whose previous function was to take in-house
> information requests and literally search in libraries for answers.
>
>
> In that period data that was stored somewhere was referred to by a number
> of different names. As in this case abstracts of articles that covered many
> years and many subjects. The publications had been ‘archived’ and made
> accessible online through commercial services like Tymshare and its
> network. It was stored in a proprietary database used by DIALOG.
>
>
> But also the term “database” was used loosely to refer to many forms of
> data whether they were organized into a real database or not. Most were not
> because there were no cross platform DBMS systems and few proprietary ones.
> “Archive” was a term used previously in a non computer context apparently
> for a long time. And like many such terms used in the non computer world
> which had analogies to the computing process this one gradually became a
> part of our computer world terminology. But instead of its common use in
> the non computer world meaning stored documents, in the computer world it
> became a more common term relating to the process of storing backed up data
> or materials. Or the original source of data that was eventually loaded
> into a database- i e “from the archives.”
>
>
> I’m guessing you are going to find that like a lot of terms it worked its
> way into early conversations and papers eventually becoming a normal part
> of the terminology. Today I believe it is safe to say “backup” is much more
> the go to phrase with “archive” being used as a verb some and also a noun
> but not as much as “backup.”
>
>
> Ironically I believe your best chance to get a good answer for this is to
> locate an online database of articles or abstracts from computer
> publications of the 60s and 70s and search for the term “archive” and
> follow the trend of occurances per year as its popularity grew. DIALOG was
> certainly one such source a long time ago. Although I have no idea what on
> line accessible collections exist today online I can only guess they are
> available.
>
>
> Hope this is helpful
>
>
> Regards...Mike
>
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
>
> On Aug 6, 2018, at 10:37 AM, Marc Weber <marc at webhistory.org> wrote:
>
>
> 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> 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
>
>
>
>
>
> --
>
> Matthew Kirschenbaum
>
> Professor of English and Digital Studies
>
> Director, Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies
>
> University of Maryland
>
> mkirschenbaum.net
>
>
> _______________________________________________
>
> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion
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> you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listin
> fo.cgi/members-sigcis.org
>
>
> 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
>
> Co-founder, Web History Center and Project, webhistory.org
>
>
> _______________________________________________
>
> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion
> list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member
> posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list
> archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and
> you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listin
> fo.cgi/members-sigcis.org
>
> Sent from my iPhone
>
> On Aug 6, 2018, at 12:13 PM, Barbara B Walker <bbwalker at unr.edu> wrote:
>
> Thanks so much for this info, Henry! I was following this topic with
> interest, nothing “duh” about it.
>
>
>
> If this is connected with the rise of the social sciences in government
> and military in the Cold War US, there’s a growing scholarly literature
> about that out there. It would be interesting to see if ARPA/DARPA were
> involved.
>
>
>
> Barbara Walker
>
>
>
>
>
> *From: *Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> on behalf of Henry E
> Lowood <lowood at stanford.edu>
> *Date: *Monday, August 6, 2018 at 11:48 AM
> *To: *Henry E Lowood <lowood at stanford.edu>, Matthew Kirschenbaum <
> mkirschenbaum at gmail.com>, members <members at sigcis.org>
> *Subject: *Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Origins of "archive" in computer science
>
>
>
> Matt,
>
> Another method – duh – would be to use online databases such as INSPEC.
> Found this, for example:
>
> *Short Note On Information Retrieval Systems Applicable To Archive Data *
>
> Éric De Grolier,
>
> First Published September 1, 1965 Research Article
>
> https://doi.org/10.1177/053901846500400313
> <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fdoi.org%2F10.1177%252F053901846500400313&data=01%7C01%7Cbbwalker%40unr.edu%7Cff1d06e7110f408389b708d5fbcd1fc8%7C523b4bfc0ebd4c03b2b96f6a17fd31d8%7C1&sdata=bkxhg9gCO9VDnxwk6hNP1kj3Vs530s%2BJHkrsTs4zL6g%3D&reserved=0>
>
> Noticed that most uses of “archive data,” “data storage” etc. that popped
> up seem to be related to social science data systems; the first big ones
> were developed in the late 1960s, early 1970s, I believe, though I am no
> expert.
>
> Henry
>
>
>
> Henry Lowood, PhD
>
> Curator for History of Science & Technology; Film & Media Collections
>
> HSSG, Green Library, 557 Escondido Mall
>
> Stanford University Libraries
>
> Stanford CA 94305-6004
>
> PH: 650-723-4602
>
> EM: lowood at stanford.edu
>
>
>
> *From:* Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> *On Behalf Of *Henry E
> Lowood
> *Sent:* Monday, August 6, 2018 11:27 AM
> *To:* Matthew Kirschenbaum <mkirschenbaum at gmail.com>; members <
> members at sigcis.org>
> *Subject:* Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Origins of "archive" in computer science
>
>
>
> Matt,
>
> As Paul already suggested, industry publications (including ads) would be
> a great place to start. The other place I would begin my search is in the
> various encyclopedias and published lists of terms.  That’s what I used to
> track down the use of “virtual” a while back.
>
> Interestingly, even relatively recent encyclopedias do not define
> “archive.”  Just checked the 4th ed. Of the Encyclopedia of Computer
> Science on my shelf – not in the glossary of terms.  Only “archival
> storage” (twice) and “archive compression test” (once) are even listed in
> the general index.
>
> Henry
>
>
>
> Henry Lowood, PhD
>
> Curator for History of Science & Technology; Film & Media Collections
>
> HSSG, Green Library, 557 Escondido Mall
>
> Stanford University Libraries
>
> Stanford CA 94305-6004
>
> PH: 650-723-4602
>
> EM: lowood at stanford.edu
>
>
>
> *From:* Members <members-bounces at lists.sigcis.org> *On Behalf Of *Matthew
> Kirschenbaum
> *Sent:* Friday, July 27, 2018 12:10 PM
> *To:* members <members at sigcis.org>
> *Subject:* Re: [SIGCIS-Members] Origins of "archive" in computer science
>
>
>
> 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> 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
> <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fmkirschenbaum.net&data=01%7C01%7Cbbwalker%40unr.edu%7Cff1d06e7110f408389b708d5fbcd1fc8%7C523b4bfc0ebd4c03b2b96f6a17fd31d8%7C1&sdata=2RJ%2FCX6nJmSW%2FJuPr9EeLbg%2FcS9dfoVmCkGqS9l04d4%3D&reserved=0>
>
>
>
>
> --
>
> Matthew Kirschenbaum
> Professor of English and Digital Studies
> Director, Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies
> University of Maryland
> mkirschenbaum.net
> <https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fmkirschenbaum.net&data=01%7C01%7Cbbwalker%40unr.edu%7Cff1d06e7110f408389b708d5fbcd1fc8%7C523b4bfc0ebd4c03b2b96f6a17fd31d8%7C1&sdata=2RJ%2FCX6nJmSW%2FJuPr9EeLbg%2FcS9dfoVmCkGqS9l04d4%3D&reserved=0>
>
> _______________________________________________
> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion
> list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member
> posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list
> archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and
> you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listin
> fo.cgi/members-sigcis.org
>
>
> _______________________________________________
> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion
> list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member
> posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list
> archives are at http://lists.sigcis.org/pipermail/members-sigcis.org/ and
> you can change your subscription options at http://lists.sigcis.org/listin
> fo.cgi/members-sigcis.org
>
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