• Joseph Marie Jacquard (France) invents a punched card system to control operations of the cloth weaving loom. First use of “memory storage of patterns” system (Reichman, 1961).


  • Jöns Jakob Berzelius proposes a system of chemical symbols in which elements are represented by the first letters of their names. Compounds are represented by these letters with superscripts indicating combining weights, which in turn suggest the number of atoms combining.


  • Thomas Thomson begins an annual retrospective review of chemical literature in his Annals of Philosophy, a practice later adopted by other editors like Berzelius.


  • Leopold Gmelin publishes the first edition of his Handbuch der Anorganischen Chemie.


  • The Pharmacopoeia of the United States is published, establishing standard English and Latin names for drugs.


  • Charles Babbage develops his “difference engine,” the first step towards the modern computer.


  • In Germany Pharmaceutisches Centralblatt is issued as the first chemistry-related abstracts journal. Becomes Chemisches-Pharmaceutisches Centralblatt in 1850 and Chemisches Zentralblatt in 1856. The Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft assumes responsibility for publication in 1897.
  • Richard Hoe and Company build the first cylinder press constructed in the US (Emard, 1976).


  • Justus Liebig acquires Annalen der Pharmacie. Name later changes to Justus Liebigs Annalen der Chemie and, most recently, to European Journal of Organic Chemistry.


  • Babbage designs his “analytical engine.”


  • Joseph Lovell, an Army surgeon general, organizes a library in the Army Medical Department.


  • Library in the Patent Office’s Agricultural Section is established. Precursor to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Library and the National Library of Agriculture (NAL) (Emard, 1976).
  • John Dancer develops microphotography, combining photography and microscopy (Emard, 1976).


  • The Chemical Society of London is established.


  • Richard Hoe develops rotary press.


  • Samuel Morse sends the first public telegraph message.


  • Richard Hoe installs first commercial application of his rotary printing press (Emard, 1976).
  • American Medical Association (AMA) establishes a committee on medical literature (Emard, 1976).
  • Quarterly Journal of the Chemical Society of London (later, Journal of the Chemical Society) is first published. In 1871 it begins including abstracts of the chemical literature.


  • William F. Poole begins the Index to Periodical Literature, the first general periodical literature index in the US.
  • The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is founded. It includes a section devoted to chemistry.


  • George Boole publishes his An Investigation into Laws of Thought…, which lays the foundations for Boolean algebra, which is later used in information retrieval (Smith, 1993).


  • The Société Chimique de Paris is established. Begins publication of Bulletin as well as Répertoire de chimie pure and Répertoire de chimie appliquée, which includes abstracts.


  • In a published outline of a chemistry course, Stanislao Cannizzaro clarifies the calculation of atomic weights, then a highly contentious subject, using, in part, the long-neglected hypothesis put forward by Amedeo Avagadro in 1811.
  • Friedrich August Kekule and Archibald Scott Couper recognize that carbon atoms have the ability to link to one another in chains.
  • Archibald Scott Couper uses straight lines to indicate valence bonds in organic compounds, as is still the practice in most modern structural diagrams.


  • Chemical News and Journal of Physical Science (with which is incorporated the Chemical Gazette), the first weekly chemistry periodical, is published in England. It continues to be published until 1932.


  • Congress is held at Karlsruhe Technische Hochschule to discuss the feasibility of establishing a systematic and rational nomenclature for chemistry. The congress does not reach any conclusive results, but several key participants return home with Stanislao Cannizzaro’s outline (1858), which ultimately convinces them of the validity of his scheme for calculating atomic weights. (Skolnik, “Milestones,” 1976).
  • US Government Printing Office is established.


  • Friedrich August Kekule, as well as others, including Josef Loschmidt, identifies the ring structure of benzene.
  • John Shaw Billings takes charge of the Library of the US Army Surgeon General’s Office, Washington, DC.
  • Smithsonian Institution begins a catalog of current scientific papers. Becomes the International Catalogue of Scientific Papers in 1902 (Adkinson, 1976).


  • The Deutsche Chemische Gesellschaft is established. Begins publication of its journal, Berichte.
  • The Royal Society begins publication of its Catalogue of Papers in London.


  • Christopher Sholes, Carlos Glidden, and S. W. Soule produce the first practical typewriter (Emard, 1976).
  • The Rossiskoe Khimicheskoe Obschestvo (now Russko Khimichesko Obschestvo) is established in Russia. Begins publication of a journal the following year.


  • Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev publishes a periodic table of the elements organized by atomic weight, similar chemical and physical characteristics, and valence.


Handwritten draft of the first version of Mendeleev’s Periodic Table.

Reproduced by permission of  Bill Jensen, Curator of the Oesper Collection at the University of Cincinnati.


  • Julius Lothar Meyer publishes a periodic table similar to Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev’s that he has been developing since 1864.


  • Societa Chimia Italiana is established in Italy. Begins publication of a journal the same year.


  • Lord Kelvin devises an analogue computer to predict the tides (Emard, 1976).


  • Jacobus Henricus van’t Hoff and Joseph Achille LeBel’s recognition that there are two ways of arranging four unlike substituents tetrahedrally around a carbon atom marks the beginning ofthree-dimensional structural organic chemistry and the associated problem of representing these structures graphically and, much later, in a machine-readable code.


  • Frank Baldwin is granted the first US patent for a practical calculating machine that performs four arithmetic functions (Emard, 1976).


  • Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.
  • The American Library Association (ALA) is founded in Philadelphia.
  • American Chemical Society (ACS) is formed in New York City. First proceedings are published in the following year.


  • Thomas Edison invents the phonograph.


  • Kagaku-kai is established in Tokyo and, two years later, publishes its journal in Japanese; in 1921, becomes Nippon Kagaku-kai.


  • ACS commences publication of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, including abstracts of foreign journals.
  • Index Medicus is first issued by the Library of the Surgeon General, U.S. Army; John Shaw Billings, librarian.


  • Library of the Surgeon General, US Army (Billings, Librarian) issues the first volume of Index Catalogue. Last volume issued in 1895. Catalog soon achieves an international reputation as the most complete catalog of medical literature (Schullian, 1958).


  • Friedrich Beilstein issues the first edition of his Handbuch der Organischen Chemie, a ready reference to fifteen hundred organic chemicals.


  • AAAS Committee on Indexing Chemical Literature is established.
  • London’s Chemical Society publishes Nomenclature and Notation, guidelines for establishing systematic and uniform practices.


  • ACS establishes the Committee on Nomenclature and Notation.
  • Lexicon der Kohlenstoffverbindungen, a formula index to Beilstein’s Handbuch der Organischen Chemie, is published by Victor von Richter.
  • Journal of the Association of Engineering Societies begins abstracting section, “Index Notes,” covering about one hundred journals in the field of engineering. Becomes Engineering Index in 1896.
  • Herman Hollerith’s card tabulating system is used for the first time to collect public health statistics in Baltimore.  (Norberg, 1990). Hollerith credits much of his idea for developing the system to Billings of the Army Medical Corps.
  • Merganthaler Linotype machine is invented by Ottmar Merganthaler


  • W.S. Burroughs invents the first workable adding and listing calculator.


  • First edition of Merck Index is published; at first it is just a list of chemicals and drugs available from Merck & Co.
  • George Eastman develops a practical photographic film.
  • Library of the USDA issues a catalog of its collections.


  • Geneva conference establishes principles that set the stage for an evolving chemical nomenclature. These principles are developed more fully by various forerunners of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), which is founded in 1919 (Skolnik, “Milestones,” 1976).


  • AAAS Committee on Indexing Chemical Literature presents plans for an international index to the chemical literature (Emard, 1976).
  • Herbert H. Field proposes a plan for the control of international literature in the field of zoology. A bureau, with Field as director, is established in Zurich in 1896. It begins the Concilium Bibliographicum, which lasts until World War I (Werdel & Adams, 1976).


  • Paul Otlet and Henri LaFontaine found the International Institute of Bibliography (IIB) (Rayward, “International Federation,” 1994).
  • Paul Otlet and others at the IIB develop the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) System (Buckland, 1996).
  • First U. S. venture in chemical abstracting, the Review of American Chemical Research (a supplement to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Technology Quarterly), undertaken by Arthur A. Noyes. In 1897 it is incorporated into the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
  • Alfred Werner introduces a systematic nomenclature for coordination compounds based on the groups surrounding a central metal atom.


  • Hollerith establishes his Tabulating Machine Company to hold all his patents and manufacture the tabulating machines.
  • First patent for a marginal punch card is issued to H. P. Stamford (Reichman, 1961).
  • Royal Society (London) holds an international conference on the planning of an International Catalogue of Scientific Literature. US representatives include: Simon Newcomb, Director of the Smithsonian Institution, and Billings (Werdel & Adams, 1976).


  • Noyes’ abstracting publication becomes a part of the ACS’ JACS.


  • The magnetic tape recorder is developed (Emard, 1976).
  • Library of the USDA begins a printed catalog card distribution program (Adkinson, 1976).