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Starting Contents in Advance and getting sacked


Developing new computer systems for indexing
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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Eventually... because there was no other project like this in the country... everybody, you know, people kept coming visiting this project because it was the only one like it, and I met all sorts of foreign librarians who came in, the first time I ever met I met them at that committee, at that library and I would explain what the project was doing.

What happened eventually was that they, somehow they had arranged to get an IBM 101 statistical machine which was supposed to, you know, be the fantastic answer to all these irretrievable problems, you know. And I became an expert on wiring what we today call programming that machine. I mean, you didn’t program it you, you had a board where you put the wires in to do the sorting and do whatever you... selecting and so forth. And, I had already learned how to use the other IBM machines because this machine was located separately from the Johns Hopkins Hospital which was across the street, and where all the other standard IBM machines were located, the tabulators, key punchers, and so forth. We had our own key puncher in, in the lab, and Collators and so forth. And so eventually I started doing things with this machine that the IBM said were impossible to do. I mean, we, we developed... Calvin Mooers had developed something called superimposed coding, so I developed a concept of superimposed wiring and said, if he can do that with Zator, I can do that with wires, you know, so that’s how we developed, I developed that particular system.

Anyhow, by the time... There were so many different things that I did on that project. I, I met the people at Chemical Abstracts through that project. I was a volunteer abstracter for CA, and they, they gave me the subject of Spanish pharmacology because I could read Spanish and I knew enough chemistry to do the abstracting and I learned how to, you know, the, the technique of abstracting and indexing. And, Charles Bernier was the editor, I met him, and EJ Crane, Dale Baker was working for them at that time, but he never came to the Welch project.

And, so, what else? I... the project also did, did a study of abstracting and indexing services in the overlapping coverage, and so forth, you know, and then subject heading analysis, we did work with Sam... Bob Hayne, and eventually I went over to... the idea was that you introduced mechanisation so I went over to learn how they did, they put together the, the current list of medical literature. And, I developed an IBM punch card system for producing that system. There are, you know, these papers that I did, Preparation Subject Heading was by punch card methods. Well, today they’re so primitive but you think about it, back then...

Eugene Garfield (1925-2017) was an American scientist and publisher. In 1960 Garfield set up the Institute for Scientific Information which produced, among many other things, the Science Citation Index and fulfilled his dream of a multidisciplinary citation index. The impact of this is incalculable: without Garfield’s pioneering work, the field of scientometrics would have a very different landscape, and the study of scholarly communication would be considerably poorer.

Listeners: Henry Small

Henry Small is currently serving part-time as a research scientist at Thomson Reuters. He was formerly the director of research services and chief scientist. He received a joint PhD in chemistry and the history of science from the University of Wisconsin. He began his career as a historian of science at the American Institute of Physics' Center for History and Philosophy of Physics where he served as interim director until joining ISI (now Thomson Reuters) in 1972. He has published over 100 papers and book chapters on topics in citation analysis and the mapping of science. Dr Small is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an Honorary Fellow of the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services, and past president of the International Society for Scientometrics and Infometrics. His current research interests include the use of co-citation contexts to understand the nature of inter-disciplinary versus intra-disciplinary science as revealed by science mapping.

Duration: 3 minutes, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009