• Edwin A. Hill publishes his system for ordering molecular formulas in an index. It is first used by the Classification Division of the U.S. Patent Office.


  • First issue of Chemical Abstracts (CA) is published, edited by William A. Noyes, Sr., in the United States, using volunteers as abstractors (a continuing tradition in CA until the 1960s).


  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers is founded and begins publication of its transactions.


  • Austin M. Patterson, professor at Ohio State University, assumes editorship of CA, and its offices are moved from the University of Illinois at Urbana to Columbus.


  • Wilhelm Ostwald founds Die Brücke, an international institute for the organization of intellectual work, but fails in his attempt to establish a special international institute to document the field of chemistry.


  • Editor Evan J. Crane publishes first CA decennial index (1907-16), which includes a new means of naming and indexing compounds developed by Austin M. Patterson and Carleton C. Curran.


  • The Beilsteins Handbuch der Organischen Chemie makes possible substructure searching.


  • Chemical Abstracts adds annual formula index, first to be used in an abstract journal. These formula indexes did not indicate molecular structures, or functional groups, but served as very broad screens for searching purposes.


  • International Union of Pure Applied Chemistry establishes commissions on chemical nomenclature to formulate rules for naming chemical compounds systematically.


  • Eighth edition of Gmelin Handbuch der Anorganischen Chemie is published, under sponsorship of Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft.


  • British Chemical Abstracts begins. Becomes British Chemical and Physiological Abstracts in 1938 and British Abstracts in 1946.
  • In the United States Biological Abstracts is first published.


  • Nippon Kagaku Soran, a Japanese chemical abstracts journal, is published.


  • Samuel C. Bradford, mathematician and librarian at the Science Museum in London, develops his “law of scattering” regarding differences in demand for scientific journals. This work influences bibliometrics and citation analysis of scientific publications.


  • A $15,000 grant from the Chemical Foundation allows Watson Davis to establish the Documentation Institute as part of Science Service and to operate the Auxiliary Publication Service for science librarians. These initiatives lead indirectly to the establishment, in 1937, of the American Documentation Institute, the predecessor of the American Society for Information Science.


  • Conrad Weygand, a German chemist, proposes a method for classifying chemical reactions based on the breaking and forming of bonds during a reaction.


  • France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique is established with chemical information science among its fields of research.


  • The Ring Index, by Austin M. Patterson and Leonard T. Capell, is first published.
  • Bulletin Signalétique, a French abstract journal, is first published.


  • National Registry of Rare Chemicals established by the Armour Research Foundation in Chicago.


  • Technical Library Techniques Symposium is held at an ACS meeting, and the Chemical Literature Group is formed as part of the Division of Chemical Education.


  • Article by Gerald J. Cox, Charles F. Baily, and Robert S. Casey in Chemical and Engineering News, “Punched Cards for a Chemical Bibliography,” is first to bring punched cards to attention of chemists.


  • ACS board establishes a Board Committee on Punched Cards, with James W. Perry as chairman. The committee’s activities are financially supported by the ACS with additional funds solicited from industry. Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Scientific Aids to Learning continues this work with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation.
  • Chemical Biological Coordination Center (CBCC) is established in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council. Begins punched-card system to organize complex information files.
  • The Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker is founded, replacing the Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft and the Verein Deutscher Chemiker.
  • G. Malcolm Dyson presents a paper before London’s Royal Institute of Chemistry on his notation system, which seeks to represent chemical structures uniquely and unambiguously in a linear sequence of letters and numbers. IUPAC provisionally recommends the Dyson system.
  • USDA Library offers to furnish copies of all articles cited in CA to subscribers and members of the ACS. Project is halted in 1956 because of copyright issues.


  • Preparation of the CA fourth decennial index (covering 1937-46) requires 1.6 million index cards, five miles of one-column galley proofs, and several years to produce.
  • First volume of first edition of Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology is published.
  • William E. Batten, Imperial Chemical Industries in Great Britain, reports on the use of optical coincidence cards for information retrieval.


  • ACS’s Division of Chemical Literature is formed and the next year begins publication of Chemical Literature. In 1975 name changes to Division of Chemical Information.
  • Gmelin-Institut für Anorganische Chemie und Grenzgebiete of the Max-Planck Institut commences editing and publishing Gmelin Handbuch.
  • Welch Medical Library Indexing Project at Johns Hopkins University begins. Sponsored by the Army Medical Library (now the National Library of Medicine), it is one of the first efforts to study medical and chemical nomenclature and indexing and to apply machine technologies to this information.
  • Royal Society Scientific Information Conference convenes in London.
  • James W. Perry and G. Malcolm Dyson discuss with Thomas J. Watson, IBM president, the need to develop a machine to handle large volumes of scientific information, particularly chemical information. Watson agrees to work on the problem and assigns Hans Peter Luhn to the project.
  • Calvin Mooers develops concept of Zatocoding, using “descriptors” and random coding on mechanically sorted edge-notched cards.


  • Austin M. Patterson receives first A.M. Patterson Award for Documentation in Chemistry from ACS’s Dayton Section. In 1975 the award is expanded to honor E.J. Crane and becomes the Patterson-Crane Award.
  • George Willard Wheland, professor at the University of Chicago, develops basic concept of the connection table to represent chemical structures.
  • William J. Wiswesser introduces Wiswesser Line Notation.


  • Hans Peter Luhn develops prototype of the Luhn Scanner for IBM. Its technology is based on IBM punched cards, run vertically through a specially adapted scanner, using photo-electric cells. It does not require fixed-field searching. It is first demonstrated at the World Chemical Conclave in New York City, September 1951.
  • The Information for Industry Index to U.S. Patents (IFI/Plenum) begins publication using Mortimer Taube’s Uniterm system for index terms.


  • Mortimer Taube and Alberto F. Thompson of the AEC Technical Information Service present “The Coordinate Indexing of Scientific Fields” before the Symposium on Mechanical Aids to Chemical Documentation sponsored by the ACS’s Division of Chemical Literature. This paper contains the first use of the term coordinate indexing.
  • James W. Perry and Robert S. Casey publish Punched Cards: Their Application to Science and Industry. A second edition appeared in 1958 with Madeline Berry and Allen Kent as co-authors.
  • At Johns Hopkins University’s Welch Medical Library, Eugene Garfield develops machine methods for compiling Current List of Medical Literature (later merged with Index Medicus) and applies the IBM 101 punched-card sorter to search this database.
  • At Sharp and Dohme, Claire Schultz employs Calvin Mooers’s superimposed coding and the Remington Rand punched-card sorter to perform chemistry searches.
  • In Great Britain, Derwent Publications, Ltd., begins patent abstracting services with Central Patents Index. Punched cards are used to construct the indexes.


  • Karl Heumann and Raimon Beard report on the U.S. National Research Council’s Chemical-Biological Coordination Center survey of the use of punched cards, classification systems, etc. in documenting work in the chemistry and biology fields.
  • The Institute of Scientific Information is established at the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow and in the following year begins publication of Referativnyi Zhurnal, Khimiya, a chemical abstracting journal. In 1955 the institute becomes the All-Soviet Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (VINITI), the centralized abstracting and indexing service for all scientific fields.
  • National Research Council issues a call for the comparative study of the best notation systems for structural formulas.


  • In France, Jacques-Emile Dubois does initial work on the DARC (Description, Acquisition, Retrieval, and Correlation) system.


  • Chemical Abstract Services (CAS) establishes research and development unit.


  • Robert Cahn, Christopher Ingold, and Vladimir Prelog present a nomenclature system for the unambiguous specification of stereoisomers.


  • International Union of Pure Applied Chemistry approves rules for chemical nomenclature that are subsequently issued in book form–the famous Red, Blue, and Green Books, dealing with inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, respectively.
  • Eugene Garfield Associates, Inc., begins project with Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association to scan and index the current literature on steroid compounds. The coding sheets produced are then used by the U.S. Patent Office to make punched cards for searching by patent examiners to find current literature. This project leads indirectly to Index Chemicus.
  • Robert Fugmann and co-workers at Farbwerke Hoechst, West Germany, develop Generic Retrieval by Magnetic Tape Storage (GREMAS), a high-performance fragmentation coding, storage, and retrieval system for low molecular weight organic compounds.


  • U.S. Patent Office and National Bureau of Standards develop the experimental HAYSTAQ (Have You Stored Answers to Questions) system using a Standards Electronic Automatic Computer (SEAC) for use in searching patent files, with particular focus on chemical information.
  • International Conference on Scientific Information (ICSI) is held in Washington, D.C.
  • National Federation of Science Abstracting and Indexing Services is founded. In 1972 it becomes National Federation of Abstracting and Indexing Services.
  • Kagaku Gijutsu Bunken Sokuho (Alerting Service of Scientific and Technical Information) by Japan Information Center for Science and Technology is published. Covers world science literature.
  • Hans Peter Luhn (IBM) and Herbert Ohlman (System Development Corporation) display first key word in context (KWIC) indexes at ICSI.
  • Eugene Garfield Associates publishes first issues of Current Contents/Life Sciences, covering life sciences, pharmacy, and chemistry in a format that was prototyped in 1952. Garfield also begins work on his algorithm for converting chemical names into molecular formulas.
  • Beilsteins Handbuchadopts CIP (for Cahn, Ingold, Prelog). CIP is now used nearly universally.


  • Ascher Opler (Dow Chemical Company) reports on the use of a light pen for graphical entry of chemical structures into a computer.


  • CAS and the Union of American Biological Societies (later, its information service known as BIOSIS–BioSciences Information Service of Biological Abstracts) agree to exchange abstracting services to avoid duplication of efforts.
  • U.S. National Science Foundation begins funding research and development on new information handling projects at CAS, then led by Dale B. Baker, director, who is soon joined by Fred A. Tate, director of the research department. These projects include the Chemical Registry and a comprehensive national computerized chemical information system. By 1974 this funding exceeds $23 million.
  • Institute for Scientific Information, formerly Eugene Garfield Associates, publishes first issues of Index Chemicus (briefly called Current Abstracts of Chemistry), a monthly alerting service to new chemical compounds and reactions. It features a computer-based molecular formula index constructed from chemical names.
  • CAS publishes first five monthly samples of Chemical Titles (CT ); bi-weekly issues begin in 1961. CT is first periodical to be organized, indexed, and composed almost completely by computer and to use Hans Peter Luhn’s KWIC method.


  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers publishes Chemical Engineering Thesaurus, derived from the DuPont Technical Information Thesaurus, developed by Mortimer Taube as a consultant to the Du Pont Company’s Engineering Information Center.


  • Based on earlier work done by Donald J. Gluck and colleagues at DuPont, CAS’s Harry L. Morgan develops an algorithm to translate two-dimensional structural diagrams into a tabular form (or connection table) that can be manipulated and searched via computer. This algorithm becomes fundamental to the CAS Chemical Registry System.
  • Robert E. Maizell (Olin Corp.) and Charles N. Rice (Eli Lilly) begin using CAS tapes to produce in-house alerting service for chemists. Similar program is developed for students by Purdue University at about the same time.


  • George E. Vladutz, a Soviet chemist, enunciates the basic idea for a computerized retrieval system for chemical reactions.
  • With funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, Institute for Scientific Information publishes the first issue of Genetics Citation Index (GCI) and the prototype of Science Citation Index (SCI), relying on computer indexing. While GCI is not continued, SCI is first offered commercially in 1964.
  • MEDLARS (Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System), an off-line batch service, begins operation from the National Library of Medicine.
  • University of Sheffield Postgraduate School of Librarianship and Information Science is founded and two years later begins extensive research program in computerized retrieval methods for chemical and textual databases.
  • Walter Reed Army Institute of Research develops the Army Chemical Typewriter, which enables the input of chemical structures to a computer using a paper tape punching machine.


  • CAS inaugurates Experimental Chemical Registry System, assigning unique numbers to each new substance.
  • Meyer Mike Kessler, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, develops Technical Information Project (TIP), an experimental online searching system.
  • Douglas Engelbart develops the mouse as an input device. Used shortly thereafter for manipulation of chemical structures in input and searching at the Lister Hill Center of the National Institutes of Health.


  • Subsidized by grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Office of Science and Technology, CAS Chemical Registry System begins. At first the system is only available for use in-house at CAS.
  • CAS offers batch (off-line) access to users of the Chemical Titles file.
  • CAS provides online searching of its structure files for the National Cancer Institute.
  • Computer processing of CA is introduced on a rudimentary scale. CA indexes are running about 22 months behind the close of a volume period at this time.
  • Partially funded by National Institutes of Health, Chemical Biological Activities is introduced by CAS. It was published simultaneously in printed form and on computer tape and was the first computer-produced service to include full text, searchable abstracts.
  • Imperial Chemical Industries in Great Britain begins work on a project named CROSSBOW (Computerized Retrieval of Organic Structures Based on Wiswesser).
  • CAS works with the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the Food and Drug Administration to develop computer-based substance identification techniques. NLM uses the CAS Registry techniques to develop the Chemical Dictionary Online (CHEMLINE) and Toxicology Information Online (TOXLINE) databases.
  • Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre is established by Olga Kennard in the Department of Chemistry at Cambridge University.
  • CAS markets microfilms of all abstracts published since 1907.
  • Chemical Notation Association is founded in the United States.


  • Chemical Society Research Unit in Information Dissemination and Retrieval is established at the University of Nottingham under the directorship of Anthony K. Kent. In 1969, it becomes the U.K. Chemical Information Service.
  • The International Council of Scientific Unions establishes the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) to improve the quality and accessibility of scientific data collected worldwide.


  • West Germany’s Internationale Dokumentationsgesellschaft für Chemie is founded with the cooperation of German chemical companies.
  • CAS introduces the hetero-atom-in-context system in its chemical formula index.


  • Association of Information and Dissemination Centers is established by various private and public national and international organizations to deal with production, distribution, and use of electronic products and services.
  • Information Industry Association is founded by Eugene Garfield, Saul Herner, and others.
  • CA Condensates, an alerting service covering the full range of documents abstracted and indexed by CAS, commences. This is the first publicly available computer file to forthcoming issues of CA.


  • The U.K. Consortium on Chemical Information, the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker, and CAS form a partnership to develop and operate a common, computerized information system for chemistry and chemical engineering.
  • Great Britain’s Chemical Notation Association is founded.
  • Chemisches Zentralblatt ceases publication.
  • U.S. Department of Defense implements ARPANET (advanced research projects agency network) to demonstrate how communications between computers could promote cooperative research among scientists.
  • Elias J. Corey and W. Todd Wipke of Harvard University develop the OCSS-LHASA (Organic Chemical Synthesis Simulation-Logic and Heuristics Applied to Synthetic Analysis) synthesis planning system. Beginning with a molecular structure input by light pen or mouse, the system suggests starting materials and reactions to produce the molecule.
  • Japanese Information Center for Science and Technology begins online service of its database.
  • On an experimental basis, U.S. National Library of Medicine begins offering online access service, known as AIM-TWX (Abridged Index Medicus Accessed by Teletypewriter Exchange Service), to the MEDLARS database. Uses ORBIT software developed by System Development Corporation.
  • U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) begins offering online search service RECON (remote console) to NASA facilities. Uses DIALOG software developed by Lockheed Missiles and Space Corporation.


  • BIOSIS, CAS, and Engineering Index begin study of overlap of journal coverage.
  • European Association of Information Services is established to coordinate and advance the interests of operators of computerized data services.


  • Japan Association for International Chemical Information is founded to increase the international flow of chemical information.
  • U.S. National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency announce the establishment of the Chemical Information System.
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine’s MEDLINE (Medical Literature Online) becomes operational.


  • Commercial online systems, ORBIT (System Development Corporation) and DIALOG (Lockheed Missiles and Space Corporation), become available in the United States.
  • INPADOC (International Patent Documentation System) is founded by the World Intellectual Property Organization and the government of Austria. Later integrated into the European Patent Office.


  • NATO’s Computer Representation and Manipulation of Chemical Information is held at Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands.


  • Herman Skolnik becomes the first recipient of the Skolnik Award of the ACS Division of Chemical Information.
  • Chemical Abstracts Search, a file of CA references and indexing, is introduced and soon becomes the most widely used chemical database in the world.
  • CAS ONLINE becomes operational on a pilot basis.


  • Molecular Design Limited, a supplier of computer software for chemical and pharmaceutical companies, is founded by Stuart A. Marson, Steve Peacock, and W. Todd Wipke.


  • Gmelin Handbuch begins transition from German to English.
  • The Chemical Society, the Royal Institute of Chemistry, and other organizations merge to form the Royal Society of Chemistry in Great Britain.
  • The ACS publication, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, is made available in full text on an experimental basis on the BRS (Bibliographic Retrieval Service) online system.


  • Fachgruppe Chemie-Information is founded within the Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker.
  • Great Britain’s Chemical Structure Association is established.


  • Division of Chemical Information and Computer Science is founded within the Chemical Society of Japan.
  • CA File, the most complete online equivalent of CA, is introduced.
  • U.S. National Science Foundation incorporates ARPANET into its new INTERNET (interactive network).


  • CAS ONLINE is incorporated, along with non-CAS databases, into Scientific and Technical Network International, a joint operation of CAS, Japan Science and Technology Corporation, and Fachinformationzentrum Karlsruhe.
  • Journal of Biological Chemistry becomes first journal to ask authors to reference an electronic database, in this case of nucleotide sequences.


  • First International Conference on Chemical Structures held in Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands.


  • National Center for Biotechnology Information is founded to oversee the information components of the Human Genome Project.


  • First International Conference on Chemical Information held in Montreux, Switzerland.
  • Tetrahedron Computer Methodology, edited by W. Todd Wipke, becomes the first journal published in electronic form only, available on floppy disks.


  • DIALOG Information Services files $150-million lawsuit against CAS, charging violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act for attempting to monopolize control of the chemical literature.
  • CAS responds to DIALOG lawsuit and counter sues for $30 million, charging DIALOG with breach of contract and fraud.


  • The CORE project, to create a prototype of an electronic library of ACS journals, is established cooperatively by ACS, CAS, Bellcore, OCLC, and Cornell University.
  • Gmelin Database is made commercially available.


  • First sites appear on the World Wide Web.


  • DIALOG and CAS settle lawsuit and promise further cooperation; terms not disclosed.


  • SciFinder, a client server for scientists, is marketed by CAS.
  • Chemical Abstracts Services (CAS) Registry System records over 1 million new substances this year.
  • CAS begins Internet coverage of chemical science resources on the Internet that are only available in electronic form.


  • ACS creates ChemCenter, a web service to access a wide variety of chemical information. Includes full text of 26 ACS journals.


  • At the end of the year, the Registry file contains 17.2 million substances. The Registry database contains over 23 million names.