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Thursday, February 14, 2008

German Spiegel Opens Up Archive

German Spiegel opened up the archives to their weekly magazine dating back to 1947, making the full content searchable. While the search engine for the so-called “Spiegel Wissen” site (Spiegel Knowledge) is very badly implemented for a variety of reasons*, causing low accessibility and usability, articles are displayed for free and in full. Accompanying each text is also a PDF showing the article in its original layout.

When using the advanced search, you can dive into older articles. Here is, according to their search engine, the first mention of the phrase “world wide web” within Spiegel, from March 1994:

The road towards the US “first cat” leads through the computer. If you want to hear news about “Socks”, the speckled cat of US presidential family Clinton, you need to enter the world-spanning data network “Internet,” which connects millions of computers. (...)

The World Wide Web (computer jargon: “W3”) offers a taste of our multimedia future. Using WWW, you can access all net services offered – text, audio and video – by clicking symbols or keywords on the screen, like by using the PC software “Windows” and the search help (“viewer”) “Mosaic.” Developed at US universities, the program is planned to be distributed commercially in the future by US company Spry.

The needed computations are running invisibly under the hood. (...)

Instead of using a dial pad, the World Wide Web first presents you with an “entrance point” made up of text and graphics, resembling a magazine page. If the information searcher clicks on specific locations within this “hyper text,” the so-called “hot links,” he’ll be automatically passed through to further computers.

One of the earlier mentions of the word “computer” is from July 1955. The article in question is titled “The Revolution of Robots” and talks about IBM:

Ever since the end of the war, the US, the UK and the Soviet Union are involved in a dramatic competition to construct varied and “increasingly fast thinking” electronic brains for deployment in large industrial areas. In the US the keyword “automation” has been used for years for this most modern form of business economics. Ever since, it’s causing heated discussions amongst industrial people, sociologists, and union workers in all advanced countries.

On the 18th floor of a luxurious skyscraper in New York’s Madison Avenue, interested high-ranking members of the industry can watch the newest robotic models during a kind of fashion show. (...)

Watching over the global company is IBM president Thomas Watson, who – showing partial gray hair at 41 years of age – leads a team of high paid engineers ...

The following article from 1971 is titled “speaking computers”:

US computer manufacturers offer a new service to their customers: speaking computers. As opposed to the former textual communication, these new electronic brains offer their information via telephone. The most outspoken computers, next to those by IBM, are developed by electronic manufacturers Phonplex Corp. and Periphonics Inc. Using built-in word fragments, they managed to increase the computer dictionary to 2000 words. (...) Says an IBM manager: “This market has a future.”

[Thanks Mathias!]

*No snippets for older articles, bugs when restricting to a certain time, no easy way to find the first mention of something due to lack of “reverse order by date,” super-large margins causing white space where none is needed, Spiegel article results buried in (partially irrelevant and broken) oneboxes (the Wikipedia onebox for “sergey brin” returns the wiki article on “7th September”), overlong URLs, dynamic layers semi-randomly popping up and covering buttons, the search box doesn’t accept certain characters, odd tags appearing in texts ("<0Spalte0=2>"), certain result links are in gray but non-underlined, shift-clicking certain links won’t work, and so on. Spiegel would have done well to make this a straight, simple, working and usability-tested search engine instead – their archive is gold.

Update: I created a search engine for the Spiegel archive. [Thanks Dominik!]


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