This is a tardy thank-you note to some too-long remote friends. Cleaning out the basement last week, I found a pile of correspondence. The letters concerned various free-text information retrieval (IR) programs that I wrote during my ill-spent early-middle-age. They dated from the pre-Web era, 1988-1991 --- when mailing lists, USENET newsgroups, and Compuserve fora were the dominant dinosaur species. (What will today's newest new things look like in retrospect a decade from now? To imagine is to laugh (^_^)....)

Some quick context: beginning ca. 1984, with encouragement and support from colleagues, friends, and the (now defunct) corporate library at Apple Computer, Inc., I wrote indexer/browser software in my spare time. The programs were designed to help people take huge disorganized collections of textual data and make them useful for personal high-performance research. (See also = "Notes on Free Text Information Retrieval" and the = "Free'Text Archive", as well as the 1999 Nov 27 ^zhurnal entry.) The earliest and crudest of these chunks of code were named "indxr" and "brwsr". (I wasn't much of a naming wizard!) The software then evolved through "qndxr.c", "Texas", "Tex", "multindxr", and finally several "Free'Text" instantiations of the same fundamental ideas.

The hobby of IR programming taught me a lot and occupied many pleasant months of my life (thanks to the near-limitless tolerance of my wife, Paulette Dickerson --- to whom I owe more than I can express). But the best part was that it let me meet and help many nice people. Here's a core sample of names from the letters I received. If you find your name below, please drop me a line and let me know how you're doing these days. And thank you, belatedly, for writing!

Belated thanks to you all --- and apologies to those whose kind letters and messages have not survived the friction of my household filing system. (Please forgive inadvertent typos and garbles.) To those who have been forgotten: remind me gently. And to those who enjoyed Free'Text (and Tex, Texas, qndxr/brwsr, etc.) but who never got around to writing: drop me a line ... it's never too late.

(see NorthAmericanTexasHistory for further thanks and acknowledgements)

Monday, May 15, 2000 at 07:58:35 (EDT) = Datetag20000515

TopicPersonalHistory - TopicProgramming

(correlates: FreeTextFriends, IdeaGardening, KwicsChinksAndChunks, ...)