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Biographies -- Calvin Mooers Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129897D
Original Publication Date: 1995-Sep-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 3 page(s) / 20K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Kevin D. Corbit: AUTHOR [+2]


The Charles Babbage Institute

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Copyright ©; 1995 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Biographies -- Calvin Mooers

Kevin D. Corbit

The Charles Babbage Institute

Calvin Mooers was born on October 24, 1919 and died on December 1,1994, of a heart attack. He conducted research on the development and use of information retrieval systems and created the Text Reckoning and Compiling (TRAC) programming language, which was designed specifically to handle unstructured text in an interactive mode, i.e., by a person typing directly into a computer."1

Mooers became interested in mathematics from his involvement with amateur radio and through the encouragement of Viola Marti, his high school mathematics teacher. While he was still a high school student, his teacher introduced him to the mathematics professors at the University of Minnesota. They encouraged Mooers abilities, and after three years at the university. he began taking graduate courses in mathematics and physics. In the spring of 1941, Professor Lynn H. Rumbaugh, from whom Mooers had taken theoretical physics, recruited him to join the Naval Ordnance Laboratory (NOL) as a physicist, where he worked on degaussing (the protection of ships against magnetic mines). While at NOL he met Charlotte Davis from the Acoustic Division. They married in 1945 and their union continued for 49 years until his death. At the end of World War TI, NOL reorganized and Mooers became part of NOL's newly created Computer Division. where he worked under John Vincent Atanasoff.2

Frustrated by his belief that 'we were just not getting anywhere at NOL in our computer project," Mooers left NOL in 1946 for graduate school at MIT, hoping to capitalize on his computing experience. He set out to explore the use of digital processes and mathematics to impose control on the technical reports then flooding out of government laboratories. At MIT, Mooers discussed his ideas with James W. Perry, a chemist interested in indexing and finding chemical information. Perry arranged at an American Chemical Society meeting for Mooers to present his ideas on the development of a machine capable of Boolean searching. In his paper, Mooers advocated that chemists should be involved in the development of such a machine.3

His research led him to invent Zatocoding,4which he described as

  (Image Omitted: a complete system. In terms of contemporary lingo, ... [it] was non-electronic, which equals mechanical; it was digital; it would be called a knowledge-based system; it was a selector device (you didn't pick the cards out by hand); it was automatic, in other words, a motor drove it; and it exploited the Zatocoding technique, which can be characterized as selection based upon fuzzy sets.)

Zatocoding used a series of specially notched cards. Each notch was a descriptor representing information in the document to which that card referred. Moo...