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The Engineering Index: The Past And The Present

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

ELD Poster Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1230.1 - 15.1230.15

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Paper Authors


Nestor Osorio Northern Illinois University

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Nestor L. Osorio is Professor and Science/Engineering Subject Specialist at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL 60115,

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Engineering Index: The Past and the Present


The purpose of this paper is to present a historical account of the many innovations introduced in this publication since its creation in 1884. This is a commemorative article for the 125th anniversary of one of the most important bibliographic sources for engineering and technology information. The paper is divided into five sections: J.B. Johnson: an Engineer, Scholar, Pioneer in Informatics and Humanist; The First Years up to the 1950’s; The Sixties and Seventies; The 1980’s through 2009; and The Ei Village and its Creator John Regazzi. Each section describes major changes, improvements, management and editorial decisions introduced. It also presents some information on the people that have made The Engineering Index (Compendex) a valuable resource such as J.B. Johnson, Bill M Woods, John E. Creps, and John Regazzi.


The prominence of The Engineering Index as a technical and scientific information service has being recognized through the years. In 1976, Mildren1 described it as “the major transdisciplinary index in the world’s engineering literature.” There are no doubts that this publication has been used for the last 125 years by engineers and technical staff all over the world, people that in one way or another have contributed to the development of today’s modern society. Therefore, Ei is an intrinsic part of the history of technology. The history of The Engineering Index has been presented by several authors at different times. The most prominent have been the works of Hannum2, Bissell3, Landau4, and Woods5 which combined cover details from 1884 to 1984. More recently, Youngman6 wrote about how the role of librarians has changed as reflected by the changes in the The Engineering Index as occurred, and Lafferty and Porter7 in 2005 did a comprehensive review of Compendex. This article does not pretend to be a critical historical presentation of this publication; the intent is to present in one shot some interesting human and technical aspects of this publication that the author has found fascinating when preparing an exhibit to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Ei.

J.B. Johnson: an Engineer, Scholar, Pioneer in Informatics and Humanist

It is not easy to picture how life in academia was at the end of the nineteenth century without the basic comforts of modern society. The truth is that it was a time of many creative ideas that put in place the foundation for the development of new technological progress. J.B. Johnson was one of those creative people, but what set him apart was that he not only mastered the technology of his profession but also discovered the need for better organization of the technical literature. Out of his interest for doing things better, the idea of an index for the engineering literature was born.

Norman F. Koch8, in his short biography of J. B. Johnson, best describes the beginning of The Engineering Index: “The Index of Current Engineering Literature” was started by professor Johnson because he found the need of such an index while doing research work. It originated in an outline of a few of his own engineering journals. This suggested a more complete index which

Osorio, N. (2010, June), The Engineering Index: The Past And The Present Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015