• Jan 1, 1919
    (b.) -
    Dec 1, 1994


An American computer scientist known for his work in information retrieval and for the programming language TRAC, he was a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, attended the University of Minnesota, and received a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1941. He worked at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory from 1941 to 1946, and then attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a master's degree in mathematics and physics. At M.I.T. he developed a mechanical system using superimposed codes of descriptors for information retrieval called Zatocoding. He founded the Zator Company in 1947 to market this idea, and pursued work in information theory, information retrieval, and artificial intelligence. He coined the term "information retrieval" using it first in a conference paper presented in March 1950. He also coined "Mooers' Law" (not to be confused with Moore's Law) and its corollary in 1959. He founded the Rockford Research Institute in 1961, where he developed the TRAC programming language, and attempted to control its distribution and development using trademark law and a unique invocation of copyright. (At the time patent law would not allow him to control what he saw as his intellectual property and profit from it.) The trademark strategy was later used by Ada. He received the American Society for Information Science's Award of Merit in 1978 which stated in part: “He was a participant in early developmental work on digital computers, a researcher, author, and implementer of applications in information retrieval; and a prophet in the 1950s describing the future importance of what is now called computer networks and distributive processing, and daring to predict that machines could simulate thought processes in retrieving computerized information.” He died in 1994 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His article critical of John Vincent Atanasoff and his brief tenure as chief of a failed computer construction project at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory during World War II was published posthumously in the May–June 2001 IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. He authored the paper, "The Computer Project at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory" (PDF). IEEE Annals of the History of Computing (IEEE) 23 (2): 51–67. doi:10.1109/MAHC.2001.10002. ISSN 1058-6180. http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MAHC.2001.10002.
  • Date of Birth:

    Jan 1, 1919
  • Date of Death:

    Dec 1, 1994
  • Gender:

  • Noted For:

    Known for his work in information retrieval and for the programming language TRAC
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