chemical abstracts celebrates its 75th anniversary

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  • ACS News

    Chemical Abstracts celebrates its 75th anniversary Chemical Abstracts marked its 75th birthday on New Year's Day. At age 75 CA is not only robust and healthy, it's still growing.

    CA came into being primarily be-cause U.S. chemists felt that Euro-pean abstracting journals were ne-glecting U.S. chemical research. The first issue carried a cover date of Jan. 1,1907.

    From the beginning, the American Chemical Society charged CA with abstracting the complete world's lit-erature of chemistry. The exponential growth of chemical research and publication in the ensuing years led to a parallel growth in CA and the or-ganization that produces it.

    The first year's issues of CA con-tained just under 12,000 abstracts, almost half of them reporting on work done in Germany. Today, Chemical Abstracts Service abstracts, indexes, or cites more than half a million sci-entific papers and patents annually, and each weekly issue of CA contains almost 9000 abstracts. The 9 mil-lionth abstract to be published in CA appeared in the first issue of 1982.

    The early issues of CA were edited by William A. Noyes Sr., who was chairman of the ACS committee on papers and publications, from his office at the National Bureau of Standards. Noyes was assisted by two other part-time editors, a secre-tary, and 129 unpaid volunteer ab-stractors. The original staff of four has grown to nearly 1200, located in two large buildings adjacent to the Ohio State University campus in Columbus.

    Today, CAS staff members moni-tor some 12,000 scientific journals and other periodicals from more than 150 nations, patents issued by 26 nations and two international bodies, and conference proceedings, reports, dis-

    sertations, and books from around the world in search of new information of chemical interest. CAS document analysts abstract papers and patents published in more than 50 languages. They also thoroughly index each paper or patent using both key words and phrases from the titles and ab-stracts of the document and highly controlled and structured index entries to subjects covered and chemical substances mentioned.

    Abstracts now fill about 35,000 pages in CA annually. Weekly issue indexes add another 8000 pages each year, and the more detailed and comprehensive volume indexes pub-lished every six months total about 30,000 pages per year.

    CA has become thoroughly inter-national both in terms of the infor-mation it covers and the audience it serves. Nearly two thirds of its circu-lation is abroad.

    Noyes was succeded as editor of CA in 1908 by Austin M. Patterson. Pat-terson, who contracted tuberculosis, retired as editor in 1914, but made a major contribution to CA after his retirement. When it was decided to publish a 10-year collective index to CA in 1916, it became evident that some systematic means of naming and indexing chemical substances was necessary. Patterson and Carle-ton E. Curran devised a naming scheme that had a profound effect on chemical nomenclature in general. The same basic principles still are used to name and index compounds in CA, though the system has been improved and updated continually over the years.

    In 1915, E. J. Crane took over as editor and remained at the helm for the next 43 years, becoming the first director of Chemical Abstracts Ser-vice when the CA editorial organiza-

    tion was renamed and made a division of ACS in 1956. Crane made CA the model and pacesetter for all scientific abstracting and indexing services. He was succeeded as director of CAS in 1958 by Dale B. Baker, who led CAS through a difficult transition to fi-nancial self-sufficiency and a major growth in staff and facilities and moved it into the computer age.

    The effort to maintain complete coverage in the face of exponential growth in the volume of scientific publication dominated much of CA's history. The problem was com-pounded by two world wars, a de-pression, and, often, large deficits. Under similar pressures other ab-stracting journals ceased publishing or limited their coverage. CA reso-lutely resisted such cuts, making it, in the words of the present editor, Rus-sell J. Rowlett Jr., "the only chemical manufacturing plant in the world with absolutely no control over its raw materials."

    For much of its history, CA relied heavily on volunteer effort to keep up with the literature. Although indexing was always done by CAfs editorial staff, abstracts were written by hun-dredslater thousandsof volun-teers, often in distant parts of the world, and each subject section was overseen by one or more volunteer section editors, subject matter au-thorities who monitored the cover-age of each section and the quality of abstracts.

    From the 129 volunteer abstractors in 1907, the corps of volunteers grew to nearly 3300-in 55 nationsin the mid-1960s. Formal associations and working groups of abstractors were

    * organized in some nations, most notably Japan and Poland.

    When computer-assisted produc-tion of CA was introduced in the late

    Four peopleWilliam A. Noyes Sr., Austin M. Patterson, E. J. Crane, Dale Bakerhave played key roles In CA's history

    86 C&EN Jan. 18, 1982

  • . . . is the new MINIMUM GUARANTEED interest rate for the ACS Tax Deferred Retirement Annuity Program and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) sponsored by the Board of Trustees, Group Insurance Plans for ACS Members. This rate, compounded annually, will be applied to all contributions made from January 1, 1982 to February 18, 1982 and is guaranteed at 13% through 1984. Interest accumulations are not taxable then until withdrawal. (See also the December 21, 1981 issue of C&EN, "Comment," page 54.)

    During 1982, a new interest rate will be announced each quarter in order to remain current with market fluctuations. The interest rate for that quarter will then be made available for 30 days and guaranteed for three years. For additional information, telephone 1-800-243-4896, or (in Connecticut) 1-203-773-3911.

    Or send the attached coupon to: Professional Pensions Inc. 47 College Street New Haven, Connecticut 06510

    or circle 93 on the Reader Service Card.

    Underwritten by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company

    Mail this coupon for details on the ACS Tax Deferred Retirement Annuity Program and an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).




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  • ACS News

    1960s, it became advantageous to have abstracts prepared in the Co-lumbus offices. More than 90% of abstracts are now prepared by full-time staff members in Columbus who index the papers and patents at the same time they abstract them, and staff members of the Royal Society of Chemistry provide abstracts and index entries for much of the British chemical literature. However, nearly 1000 volunteer abstractors around the world still are called upon to assist with languages and subject areas for which sufficient full-time help is not available.

    Money was a persistent problem throughout much of CA's history. The most severe financial crisis oc-curred in the mid-1950s.

    Through 1933 CA was financed entirely from ACS member dues; all members who wished to, received the publication free of charge. After 1933 a small subscription fee was imposed to supplement the allocation from

    dues. This arrangement met financial needs until after World War II, when the rapid expansion of scientific publication and post-war inflation caused operating expenses to rise rapidly. Subscription prices were in-creased sharply but did not keep pace with costs. In 1952 a Corporation Associates plan was instituted through which industry helped make up the deficit, which nevertheless continued to mount. Growing alarm was evident in headlines in C&EN during the mid-1950s: "Chemical Abstracts, Millstone or Milestone?"; "Chemical Abstracts ServiceGood Buy or Good-by?"

    In 1955 operating expenses ex-ceeded $1 million for the first timeand the deficit over subscrip-tion revenues was almost $500,000. The ACS Board of Directors at that point determined that CA must be self-supporting, and subscription policies and prices were changed drastically. Today, CAS pays its own

    way, including a share of ACS general and administrative expenses, and contributes toward maintaining the society's general reserve fund.

    Also in 1955, CAS became the first abstracting and indexing service to establish a research and development department, which began exploring the application of the then somewhat primitive computer technology to the processing of chemical information. One of the early results of the re-search and development effort was Chemical Titles, introduced in 1961, the first periodical to be organized, indexed, and composed by com-puter.

    In the early 1960s, CAS chemists and computer specialists perfected techniques for translating chemical structure diagrams into a coded form that can be stored and searched by computer. These techniques became the foundation of the CAS Chemical Registry System, which now contains information on more than 5.5 million

    February local section meeting speakers

    As a service to ACS members, C&EN publishes listings of speakers at upcoming local section meetings. The list is published once a month. Each list gives the program of

    speakers, their affiliations, topic, section, date, and location of the meeting. For additional information, please contact the person at the number given.

    Date Time

    8:00 PM

    0 8:00 PM

    10 6:00 PM

    ie 5:30 PM

    16 8:00 PM 16 8:00 PM

    17 5:00 PM

    18 8:00 PM

    18 8:15 PM

    19 6:00 PM

    24 8:00 PM

    25 7:00 PM

    Speaker Affiliation

    Norman Anderson Argonne National Lab

    Albert Lutz American Cy