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Calvin Northrup Mooers (October 24, 1919 – December 1, 1994), was an
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is ...

American
computer scientist A computer scientist is a person who has acquired the knowledge of computer science, the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their application. Computer scientists typically work on the theoretical side of c ...

computer scientist
known for his work in
information retrieval Information retrieval (IR) in computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer h ...
and for the programming language
TRAC Trac is an open-source, web-based project management Project management is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve goals and meet success criteria at a specified time. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve al ...
.


Early life

Mooers was a native of
Minneapolis, Minnesota Minneapolis () is a city in the U.S. state of Minnesota. With a population of 429,954 as of 2020 United States census, 2020, it is the most populous city in the state and the 46th most populous in the nation. The county seat of Hennepin County, ...

Minneapolis, Minnesota
, attended the
University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (the U of M or Minnesota) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organ ...

University of Minnesota
, and received a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1941. He worked at the
Naval Ordnance Laboratory The Naval Ordnance Laboratory (NOL) was a facility in the White Oak, Maryland, White Oak area of Montgomery County, Maryland. It is now used as the headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Origins The ...
from 1941 to 1946, and then attended the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, aft ...
, 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 theory is the scientific study of the quantification (science), quantification, computer data storage, storage, and telecommunication, communication of Digital data, digital information. The field was fundamentally established by the ...
,
information retrieval Information retrieval (IR) in computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer h ...
, and
artificial intelligence Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction Abstraction in its main sense is a conceptual process where general rules and concept Concepts are defined as abstra ...

artificial intelligence
. He coined the term "
information retrieval Information retrieval (IR) in computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer h ...
" using it first in a conference paper presented in March 1950. See also a short paper published later that year from Mooers.


Mooers's law

He coined " Mooers's law" (not to be confused with
Moore's law Moore's law is the observation that the number of transistor upright=1.4, gate Candi bentar, a typical Indonesian gate that is often found on the islands of Java">Indonesia.html" ;"title="Candi bentar, a typical Indonesia">Candi be ...
) and its corollary in 1959: :An information retrieval system will tend not to be used whenever it is more painful and troublesome for a customer to have information than for him not to have it. :Where an information retrieval system tends not to be used, a more capable information retrieval system may tend to be used even less.


TRAC

He founded the Rockford Research Institute in 1961, where he developed the
TRAC programming language TRAC (for Text Reckoning And Compiling) Language is a programming language A programming language is a formal language In logic, mathematics, computer science, and linguistics, a formal language consists of string (computer science), words ...
, and attempted to control its distribution and development using trademark law and a unique invocation of copyright.http://www.resistors.org/index.php/History_of_the_R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S.
/ref> (At the time
patent law A patent is a type of intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depe ...
would not allow him to control what he saw as his
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property Property is a system of rights that gives people legal control of valuable things, and also refers to the valuable things themselves. Depending on the nature of the property, an owner o ...
and profit from it.) The trademark strategy was later used by
Ada Ada may refer to: Places Africa * Ada Foah Ada Foah is a town on the southeast coast of Ghana, where the Volta River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The town is located along the Volta River, off of the Accra-Aflao motorway. Known for Palm tree, pal ...
.


Awards

Mooers received the
American Society for Information Science The Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) is a non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated ...
's Award of Merit in 1978. The citation reads 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 network A computer network is a set of computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operati ...
s and distributive processing, and daring to predict that machines could simulate thought processes in retrieving computerized information. In 1947, he proposed the Zator, an electronic, film-scanning retrieval machine, and made the first proposal to use the Boolean operations or, and, and not to prescribe selections in retrieval machines. He developed his own Zatocoding System in 1948 using superimposed subject codes on
edge-notched card Edge-notched cards or edge-punched cards are an obsolete technology used to store a small amount of binary or logical data on paper index card . This type of cataloging has mostly been supplanted by computerization. Image:notecard.jpg, 200px, A r ...
s. He coined the term "Information Retrieval" in 1950, and went on from there to obtain several patents in information retrieval and signaling, produce a text-handling language (TRAC), author some 200 publications, and form one of the first companies whose only concern was information. His thinking has affected all who are in the field of Information and his early ideas are now incorporated into today's reality.


Death

Mooers died in 1994 in
Cambridge, Massachusetts Cambridge ( ) is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and part of the Greater Boston, Boston metropolitan area as a major suburb of Boston. , it was the fifth most populous city in the state, behind Boston, ...
. Mooers's article critical of
John Vincent Atanasoff John Vincent Atanasoff, , (October 4, 1903 – June 15, 1995) was an American physicist and inventor, best known for being credited with inventing the first electronic digital computer A computer is a machine A machine is a man-made dev ...
and his brief tenure as chief of a failed computer construction project at the
Naval Ordnance Laboratory The Naval Ordnance Laboratory (NOL) was a facility in the White Oak, Maryland, White Oak area of Montgomery County, Maryland. It is now used as the headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Origins The ...
during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, was published posthumously in the May–June 2001 issue of ''
IEEE Annals of the History of Computing The ''IEEE Annals of the History of Computing'' is a quarterly Peer review, peer-reviewed academic journal published by the IEEE Computer Society. It covers the history of computing, history of computer science, computer science, and History of c ...
''.


References

* * *


External links


Calvin N. Mooers Papers, 1930–1992
at the
Charles Babbage Institute The Charles Babbage Institute is a research center at the University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (the U of M or Minnesota) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in the Mi ...
, University of Minnesota.
Oral history interview with Calvin N. Mooers and Charlotte D. Mooers
at the
Charles Babbage Institute The Charles Babbage Institute is a research center at the University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (the U of M or Minnesota) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university in the Mi ...
. Interview discusses information retrieval and programming language research from World War II through the early 1990s. {{DEFAULTSORT:Mooers, Calvin 1919 births 1994 deaths American computer scientists University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts alumni Engineers from Minnesota People from Minneapolis MIT Department of Physics alumni