Twenty-five Years After

Wendy Warr & Associates was founded 25 years ago in January 1992; see http://warr.com/15years.html for other momentous events of that year. By coincidence, the spring ACS meeting that year was held in San Francisco, as was the most recent one, in spring 2017. My first public report on an ACS national meeting covered the meeting held in August 1992 in Washington, DC, and if I produce two reports this year, I will be up to issue number 50!

This year also marks a notable 40-year anniversary for me: the very first ACS national meeting I attended was in fall 1977. Recently I posted a historical note or two on chminf-l, and it was suggested that I might like to write an occasional historical item for the Chemical Information Bulletin. I hope to start the venture in earnest with the next issue of the bulletin, but here is a short “taster”, focusing on some events of 1991 and 1992.

Tim Berners-Lee posted the first lines of HTML in 1991, and the first sites appeared on the World Wide Web in 1992. Many individuals active in CINF were allocated email addresses by CAS: mine was waw22@cas.org or waw22@xtrn.org. (A CAS email address had your initials and department number; department 22 was unused internally.) I also had a Bitnet id, but I cannot remember what I used it for.

The early IBM PC read real floppy disks (the ones the mailman could bend). Tetrahedron Computer Methodology, a revolutionary electronic journal, using MDL’s Chemist’s Personal Software Series (CPSS) was issued on these floppy disks. The last issue appeared in 1992, although it was dated 1990 to meet the calendar requirements of a more old-fashioned publishing culture. MDL published its file formats in the Journal of Chemical Information and Computer Sciences in 1992, effectively ending the Standard Molecular Data (SMD) file movement, although the Chemical Structure Association was still supporting SMD into 1993. The term “cheminformatics” was not in common use in 1992.

MDL had a year of uncertainty after the death of Robert Maxwell in November 1991 (see Warr, W.A. After the Fat Man Jumped: The Saga of Robert Maxwell. ONLINE 1992, 16(6), 62-67). My notes on the spring 1992 ACS meeting record that relations between MDL and TRIPOS Associates did not improve after the “unfortunate incident in San Francisco”? Can anyone remember what that incident was? It hardly matters now: both companies no longer exist. In 1992, Bob Massie was appointed Director of CAS, and shortly afterwards, Jim Seals departed.

I am happy to receive comments, corrections and omissions. I will include them in my next column, if health, strength, and the demands of my continuing, busy consulting business permit.

Wendy Warr
Wendy Warr & Associates
wendy@warr.com