Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: March 8, 2021, 7:37 a.m. Humanist 34.263 - the first computer-generated concordance:

				                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 263.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
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        Date: 2021-03-07 16:42:04+00:00
        From: Henry Schaffer 
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.260: psychology of quantification

Responding to one historical DH tidbit:

On Sun, Mar 7, 2021 at 2:48 AM Humanist  wrote:

>                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 34, No. 260.
>         Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                                 Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                        www.dhhumanist.org
>                 Submit to: humanist@dhhumanist.org
>
>
>     [1]    From: Henry Schaffer 
>            Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.259: psychology of quantification
> (128)
>
>     [2]    From: Manfred Thaller 
>            Subject: Re: [Humanist] 34.259: psychology of quantification
> (88)
> ...
> (What is frequently overlooked is, that Busa did NOT produce the first
> major computer generated concordance. That was John W. Ellison in 1956.
> ...


  I had been under the impression that the first one was attributed to
Stephen Maxfield Parrish. His publication of a book in this area
https://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?id=4017 was in 1959 and is
mentioned in the 1959-60 Cornell Univ. President's report at
https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/37495/CUA_v52_1960_X1_25.pdf?
sequence=1&isAllowed=y,
but my recollection is that he had produced computer generated concordances
some years earlier. The IBM 704 mentioned was introduced in 1954, but
Cornell's first computer installation was in 1953 (The History of Computing
at Cornell University By John W. Rudan p 1) It was an IBM CPC (Card
Programmed Calculator) (op. cit. p 13.) An IBM 650 was installed in 1956
(op. cit. p 14) and I saw it in 1957. That book doesn't mention arrival of
an IBM 704. So I'm wondering where Parrish did his computation, in addition
to wondering when he did his first concordance. I knew him (he was my
Freshman English instructor) but don't remember any mention of concordances.

--henry schaffer


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