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

Brian Berg brianberg at gmail.com
Mon Aug 6 15:36:26 PDT 2018


Roger Summit of DIALOG fame says "we often used the term in the '60s and
'70s as a 'Database archive' or 'document archive' - meaning a database
collection or document collection that covered an expanse of time and dated
back some years."

Brian Berg

On Mon, Aug 6, 2018 at 2:22 PM, Matthew Kirschenbaum <
mkirschenbaum at gmail.com> wrote:

> Everyone, thank you, this additional flurry of replies has been extremely
> useful and gives me some new resources ("duh" or otherwise!) to track down.
> Best, Matt
>
>
> On Mon, Aug 6, 2018 at 4:53 PM, Brian Berg <brianberg at gmail.com> wrote:
>
>> 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."
>> _________________________
>> Brian A. Berg / bberg at StanfordAlumni.org
>> Berg Software Design
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>>
>>
>> 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
>>> list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member
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>>> http://lists.sigcis.org/listinfo.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
>>> <https://maps.google.com/?q=1401+N+Shoreline+Blvd.,+Mountain+View+CA+94043&entry=gmail&source=g>
>>> 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
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>>>
>>> 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
>>> <https://maps.google.com/?q=557+Escondido+Mall&entry=gmail&source=g>
>>>
>>> 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
>>> <https://maps.google.com/?q=557+Escondido+Mall&entry=gmail&source=g>
>>>
>>> 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
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>>>
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> 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/listinfo.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/listinfo.cgi/members-sigcis.org
>>
>
>
>
> --
> Matthew Kirschenbaum
> Professor of English and Digital Studies
> Director, Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies
> University of Maryland
> mkirschenbaum.net
>
>
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