Brown University and Electronic Books

This page was written by Steven J. DeRose around 1998, and was last updated on 2003-03-28.

This is an overly brief, overly simple, and otherwise imperfect list of some of the electronic book work done at Brown over the years (mainly ones I am somehow related to). There is far more to add about what others were doing, but this should at least give a slight flavor. Additions and fixes welcome.

Profs. Henry Kucera and W. Nelson Francis begin work on the Brown Corpus, the first large-scale statistical sample of English for computer analysis.
Prof. Andries van Dam comes to Brown.
Andy and his undergraduate classmate from Swarthmore, Ted Nelson, build the Hypertext Editing System (HES). Ted later says that all word processors derive eventually from HES -- only they lost the hypertext. Allowing for slight hyperbole, this is largely true.
Andy and students (sadly no longer with Ted) develop the second generation FRESS system, and courses in English poetry are taught with all reading and writing online.
FRESS project officially discontinued. Jonathan Prusky, who wrote the definitive reference manual for it, goes to Microsoft and apparently sets much of the direction for MS Word's more advanced features.
Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship (IRIS) founded, and develops Intermedia, a major hypermedia system used in teaching many classes, and being the first to have truly bidirectional links.
Grad student "departmental computer gurus" from several humanities departments start gathering regularly. This grows into the Computing and the Humanities Users' Group (CHUG), which still meets occasionally and whose roster of speakers over the years read like a "Who's Who" of humanities computing in the world.
3 CHUG people, Jim Coombs, Allen Renear, and I, publish "Markup Systems and the Future of Scholarly Text Processing," which may be the most widely cited and reprinted work on markup theory to date.
Brown, especially CHUG, provides a stack of participants and chairs for committees of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI).
I return to Providence from a stint at the Summer Institute of Linguistics, and co-found Electronic Book Technologies with Andries van Dam, Jeff Vogel, and Lou Reynolds.
Prof. Andries van Dam, Greg Lloyd, I, and a few others put together a symposium at MIT in honor of the 50th anniversary of Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think" article from the Atlantic Monthly. Speakers include Alan Kay, Raj Reddy, Ted Nelson, Doug Engelbart, Douglas Adams (!), etc.
The Women Writers' Project is founded at Brown (now a part of STG).
Prof. Stan Zdonik edits the first issue of the International Journal of Digital Libraries.
The Tenth Anniversary Text Encoding Initiative Conference is held at Brown.
After selling EBT to Inso, I return 1/2 time to Brown's Scholarly Technology Group headed by Allen Renear.
STG takes a leading role in development of the Open eBook standard for handheld book-reading devices.

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