APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2007-09 > 1189265761
From: "DearMYRTLE" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] 1982 NGSQ Article on "Getting Involved With Computers"
Date: Sat, 8 Sep 2007 08:36:01 -0700
Holly has a GREAT memory. Steve's program was insightful and intuitive.
I REMEMBER THE OLDEN DAYS BEFORE COMPUTER VIRUSES.
A few more comments to add to the mix.
I - Home computers circa 1984
II - Online services predated the internet circa 1984
III - Scanners at BLM circa Spring 1989
IV - FHC computers circa 1989
I. HOME COMPUTERS circa 1984
For Christmas 1984, I purchased a Commodore 64k and two years later upgraded
to the Commodore 128, so I could boot it up in CP/M mode Richard Pence just
mentioned. I needed CP/M to run an early version of PAF Personal Ancestral
File. As a single mom, and teacher, I didn't have the cash for an Apple, but
preferred the full-sized keyboard the Commodore provided over the small
Texas Instrument ___??what was it??___ also available at the time. I saw the
Atari computer as merely a game console.
II. ONLINE SERVICES PREDATED THE INTERNET circa 1984
BBS & FIDONet pre-dated the online services. If I wanted a file from a guy
in Alabama, I had to know his telephone number, his computer had to be on,
and I had to make my computer dial out to call his computer (paying long
distance charges no less) in order to download the file he had for me about
our common ancestors.
Initially I started with the Q-Link the online service, whose descendant
chart is listed below:
Q-Link - (Commodore computers, with 300 baud modems)
-- PC-Link / Apple-Link
---- America Online
On Q-LINK -- IQ do you? was their slogan. We had a small Thursday night
chat in Your Family Tree. Russ Kyger was our leader Message boards were
barely taking off, and Terry Morgan was the best at keeping those going. We
didn't have file libraries (with GEDCOMs, how-to-info) for a few years. By
the timeall evolved into AOL, we had began to enjoy years of expertise
provided by the Genealogy Forum Leader George Ferguson.
Over on Prodigy, Myra Vanderpool Gormley was holding chats.
On Compuserve, Dick Eastman held down the fort in the genealogy area.
If Q-LINKERS wanted to hear Dick or Myra talk about genealogy, we had to
sign up for that other service.
What year was is finally possible to send email to people who weren't on
your "online service"? This pre-dates the internet and ISPs. That's right,
we could not send email to anyone outside our own service. Then for a few
years, we could send email, but couldn't share files. This meant that things
were riskier, because we had to actually send disks to eachother via email,
if we wanted to share our genealogy databases. In the early days it wasn't
uncommon to do a lengthy print-out of 50-100 pages and snail mail it to a
newly discovered distant cousin.
III. SCANNERS AT BLM circa 1989
Where previously one had to know the legal land description of an ancestor's
property to find the record of his purchase from the US federal government,
the index compiled at the time of scanning old land BLM records made it
possible to locate the record by the ancestor's name.
In the spring of 1989, the Eastern Division of the Bureau of Land Management
invited local computer genealogists for a special tour to view the scanning
project taking place at their offices, which were then in I believe
Arlington, Virginia. Who attended? The group consisted of a handfull of
folks: members of the NGS Computer SIG, local FHC volunteers with computer
experience (I was in this category) and a few others including online
genealogy forum leader Russ Kyger. We were looking at the process involved
in creating what is now known as the BLM and GLO (Government Land Office)
Automation website. http://www.glorecords.blm.gov
The BLM Eastern Division had received funding from Congress to scan the old
General Land Office record books, which were falling apart. The pages of
those large (probably 18X24 inch) books were literally pulling away from
their bindings. Interestingly, the BLM had lobbied Congress with the
explanation that it would be more cost effective to scan than to microfilm
the records, and the BLM has managed to keep the technology up-to-date so
that those scanned documents are still accessible at the website referenced
above. The pages were scanned on custom-made scanners (owing to the
oversized format of the land record books.) We also met a book-binder on
load from another agency, the last of his breed, working on preserving torn
pages and damaged bindings of the old books. He had an odd lot of
interesting hand-made tools to get his job done.
IV. FHC COMPUTERS CIRCA 1989
In November, our local FHC Family History Center in Bradenton,Florida
received our first computer. We know other centers had received theirs
earlier that year, owing to their greater size and patron involvement. We
then experimented with the first searchable IGI International Genealogical
Index on CD, the event-based collection of largely birth, marriage, and
death records either extracted or submitted by patrons. That was a great
improvement over the hundreds of IGI microfiche, easily miss-filed in drawer
after drawer of storage space. About this same time, we have the first
appearance of a pedigree format database came in the form of the AF
Ancestral File on CD.
Initially the AF was the result of the 4-generation program of the LDS
Church members, and the efforts of the Medieval Records Identification Unit.
Then Salt Lake began accepting floppy disks from any patron who wished to
submit names. We had 5 1/4 inch floppies then. Since file servers hadn't
been thought of for FHCS, there was a whole lot of CD-swapping going on, to
get to the next part of the information recorded therein.
I remember when the first SSDI Social Security Death Index CD came out
through our FHCs, because that is how I discovered the death of my maternal
grandfather, who had been estranged from our family for decades due to his
divorce from Grandma Frances.
Updating the FHC CDs is another topic. Initially the FHCs received new sets
of CDs as the databases grew. Eventually addendum CDs were sent out, most
likely as a cost-saving mechanism. It was easier to send out an addendum in
a few CDs than replace an entire set of CD to include the new information.
From: [mailto:] On Behalf
Of Richard A. Pence
Sent: Friday, September 07, 2007 11:08 PM
Subject: [APG] 1982 NGSQ Article on "Getting Involved With Computers"
I have a photocopy of an article by Esther A. Anderson which appeared in the
National Genealogical Society Quarterly, apparently in 1982, as it carries
her copyright notice for that year. Unfortunately, there is no issue date or
volume or number on any of the pages of this article. If anyone has the CD
of the earlier years of NGSQ, can you give me a citation. The full title is:
"Getting Involved With Computers: Some Guidelines for Genealogists."
BTW, I am working on an article for Liz Kerstens on the early history of
computers in genealogy. I would be interested in hearing from any of you if
you have thoughts on particularly noteworthy early milestones in the
marriage of computers and genealogy. I am not interested - at this point -
in personal anecdotes on "how I got started" but particular events,
software, etc., that you think were important in the development and growth
I am tentatively placing the "birth of computer genealogy circa 1982. The
above article is one reason. Formation of the NGS CIG at the start of that
year is another. Paul Andereck founded _Genealogical Computing_ in July,
1981. You get the idea.
Who was there at the beginning but it was so long ago!
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|Re: [APG] 1982 NGSQ Article on "Getting Involved With Computers" by "DearMYRTLE" <>|