The Major Events in the History of Information Retrieval (in the United States)
According to Professors David Scott Dubin and Linda Cheryl Smith
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Graduate School of Library and Information Science

Caveat: This list is highly skewed toward developments in the United States.

1890Hollerith tabulating machines used to analyze the US census  Herman Hollerith

1945: Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think" appears in Atlantic Monthly 

Late 1940's: US military confronts problems of indexing and retrieval of wartime scientific research documents captured from Germans.

1947: Hans Peter Luhn (research engineer at IBM since 1941) begins work on mechanized, punch card based system for searching chemical compounds.
1950: The term "information retrieval" may have been coined by Calvin Mooers

1950's: Growing concern in the US for a "science gap" with the Soviets.  Motivates, encourages funding, and provides a backdrop for mechanized  literature searching systems (Allen Kent et al) and the invention of citation indexing (Eugene Garfield). 

1955: Allen Kent joins Case Western Reserve University, and eventually becomes associate director of the Center for Documentation and Communications Research.

1958: International Conference on Scientific Information Washington DC included consideration of IR systems as a solution to problems identified. See: Proceedings of the International Conference on Scientific Information, 1958 (National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, 1959)

1959: Hans Peter Luhn publishes “Auto-encoding of documents for information retrieval.” (more on Luhn)

1960: Melvin Earl (Bill) Maron and J. L. Kuhns publish “On relevance, probabilistic indexing, and information retrieval” in Journal of the ACM, 7(3):216-244, July 1960.

Early 1960's: Gerard Salton begins work on IR at Harvard, later moves to Cornell.

1962: Cyril W. Cleverdon publishes early findings of the Cranfield studies, developing a model for IR system evaluation
See: Cyril W. Cleverdon, "Report on the Testing and Analysis of an Investigation into the Comparative Efficiency of Indexing Systems". Cranfield Coll. of Aeronautics, Cranfield, England, 1962.

1962: Kent publishes Information Analysis and Retrieval

1963: Weinberg report "Science, Government and Information" gives a full articulation of the idea of a "crisis of scientific information."  The report was named after Dr. Alvin Weinberg.

1963: Joseph Becker and Robert Hayes publish text on information retrieval
Becker, Joseph; Hayes, Robert Mayo. Information storage and retrieval: tools, elements, theories. New York, Wiley (1963).

1964: Karen Sparck Jones finishes thesis at Cambridge, Synonymy and Semantic Classification, and continues work on computational linguistics as it applies to IR

1964: National Bureau of standards sponsors a symposium titled "Statistical Association Methods for Mechanized Documentation." Several highly significant papers, including G. Salton's first published reference (we believe) to the SMART system.

Mid-1960's: National Library of Medicine develops MEDLARS Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System, first major machine-readable database and batch retrieval system

Mid-1960's: Project Intrex at MIT

1965: J.C.R. Licklider publishes Libraries of the Future

1966: Don Swanson involved in studies at University of Chicago on Requirements for Future Catalogs

1968: Gerard Salton publishes Automatic Information Organization and Retrieval.

1968: J. W. Sammon's RADC Tech report "Some Mathematics of Information Storage and Retrieval..." outlines the vector model.

1969: Sammon's "A nonlinear mapping for data structure analysis" (IEEE Transactions on Computers) first proposal for visualization interface to an IR system.

Late 1960's: F. W. Lancaster completes evaluation studies of the MEDLARS system and publishes the first edition of his text on information retrieval

Early 1970's: first online systems--NLM's AIM-TWX, MEDLINE; Lockheed's Dialog; SDC's ORBIT

Early 1970's: Theodor Nelson promoting concept of hypertext, published Computer Lib/Dream Machines

1971: Jardine and Van Rijsbergen's "The use of hierarchic clustering in information retrieval", articulates the "cluster hypothesis."

1975: Three highly influential publications by Salton fully articulate his vector processing framework and term discrimination model:
A Theory of Indexing  (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics)
"A theory of term importance in automatic text analysis", (JASIS v. 26)
"A vector space model for automatic indexing", (CACM 18:11)

1978: First ACM SIGIR conference.

1979: Van Rijsbergen publishes Information Retrieval (Butterworths).
Heavy emphasis on probabilistic models.

1980: First international ACM SIGIR conference, joint with British Computer Society IR group in Cambridge

1982: Belkin, Oddy, and Brooks propose the ASK (Anomalous State of Knowledge) viewpoint for information retrieval. Important concept, though their automated analysis tool proves ultimately disappointing.

1983: Salton (and M. McGill) publish Introduction to Modern Information Retrieval (McGraw-Hill), with heavy emphasis on vector models.

Mid-1980's: efforts to develop end user versions of commercial IR systems (the topic of this paper!)

1985-1993: Key papers on and experimental systems for visualization interfaces.
Work by D. B. Crouch, R. R. Korfhage, M. Chalmers, A. Spoerri and others.

1989: First World Wide Web proposals by Tim Berniers-Lee at CERN

1992: First TREC conference.

1997: Publication of Korfhage's Information Retrieval with emphasis on visualization and multi-reference point systems.

Late 1990's: Web search engine implementation of many features formerly found only in experimental IR systems



Compiled by Karen E. Medina via email, December 1999.

For more information see :

Garfield, Eugene. "On the Shoulders of Giants". presented at The Conference on The History and Heritage of Science Information Systems, Pittsburgh, PA October 24, 1998
http://www.garfield.library.upenn.edu/papers/history/heritagey1998.html (Nov. 24, 2000).

M. E. Maron and J. L. Kuhns. On relevance, probabilistic indexing and information retrieval. Journal of the ACM, 7(3):216-244, July 1960.

Lesk, Michael. "The Seven Ages of Information Retrieval" UDT Occasional Paper # 5. http://www.ifla.org/VI/5/op/udtop5/udtop5.htm and http://www.lesk.com/mlesk/ages/ages.html

History of the Vision. A timeline of public access to science information.

People to add to a longer list:

Claude Elwood Shannon, founder of Information Theory
http://www.research.att.com/~njas/doc/shannonbio.html
http://www.research.att.com/~njas/doc/shannon.html
http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Shannon.html
http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/PictDisplay/Shannon.html
frequency based processing : Edmundson, Van Rijsberghen, along with the aforementioned Salton and Sparck Jones.