|Monty Hyams (1918-2013): Patent Information Pioneer||home||intro||derwent||personal||downloads||links|
1963- Proto-database phase: punch cards
Even before the advent of databases came an interesting phase in the development of means not only to store information, but also to search for it: punch cards. When we rediscover these, we measure the distance covered since, writes Philippe Borne.
The operating principle of the cards implemented by Derwent in the early 1960s was simple.
In this illustration we see a Derwent abstract printed on a card with perforations on its right-hand side (the black rectangles).
Each perforation is defined by a column and row number on the card, corresponding to a chemical fragment, a biological property, a use, etc. featuring in the patent application.
For example, if a document describes a new preparation process involving cyclohexane or one of its derivatives, cyclohexane is represented by a perforation at the intersection of column 40 and row 2. To find all the patents involving cyclohexane, one had merely, using a card sorter, to retrieve all the cards perforated at the intersection of column 40 and row 2.