|Monty Hyams (1918-2013): Patent Information Pioneer||home||intro||derwent||personal||downloads||links|
In the pre-Internet online generation, scientific and technical databases mostly came from public sector or non-profit institutions -- such as the UK's Institute of Electrical Engineers, the American Chemical Society and the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Influential individuals were at work in each place, but none was an entrepreneur as Monty was. He did, however, have one equivalent in a complementary area.
Seven years younger than Monty, Eugene Garfield built a profitable database business from tracing the relationships among scientific journal citations. Dr. Garfield called his 1955 Philadelphia start-up Institute for Scientific Information, rather grandly, and over time it grew into that name. Best known for Science Citation Index, ISI was (in another parallel with Derwent) acquired by Thomson Corporation, in 1992. Over time the datasets deriving from Derwent and ISI became complementary aspects of Thomson Reuters 'Web of Science'.
A start-up entrepreneur in the business database arena was Monty's other equivalent. Samuel Wolpert (1928-88) founded his Predicasts operation in Cleveland, Ohio in 1960. Eventually Predicasts Overview of Markets and Technology (PROMT) became integrated also into Thomson Reuters' portfolio, via ownership by Information Access Company.
The Hyams Archive will eventually include correspondence Monty engaged in with both Gene Garfield and Sam Wolpert. In the early 1980s he also investigated for Thomson the possibility of buying out an entrepreneur from the next generation: Philip Brown, whose Pharmaprojects database tracked the development of new drugs.
Like Monty, a Londoner, and in his case a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Dr Brown grew his business from the £3,000 purchase in 1976 of a newsletter about the drugs industry. He eventually sold PJB Publications in 2003, and (guess what) after successor buyout, Pharmaprojects became rebranded 'Thomson Reuters Integrity'.
is interesting to see what difference accrued between the first and
second generations of database entrepreneurship. Philip Brown sold his
business for an initial
£120 million potentially rising to £150 million. Even allowing for
inflation, this was a different order of
magnitude to the rewards for Monty, or indeed
what they'd have been to Brown had he chosen to sell 20 years