John Rennie, Editor in Chief of Scientific American, in his April 1996 issue reminded us that in 1845, Rufus Porter, founder of Scientific American, described his efforts as ''The Advocate of Industry and Enterprise, and Journal of Mechanical and Other Improvements.'' Porter further told us Scientific American, was ''a new scientific paper, for the advancement of more extensive intelligence in Arts and Trades in general, but more particularly in the several new, curious and useful arts, which have but recently been discovered and introduced.'' Reading Porter's initial issues one can see that he anticipated the impact of the telegraph on journalism, publishing from the start, in 1845, his weekly issues in three different cities: New York, Philadelphia and Boston.

Ones ability to use and share knowledge was once limited by what we could carry in our minds, our knowledge was based upon experiences and conversations with our neighbors. A dramatic change occurred when Gutenberg started printing books with movable type in 1454. Fifty years later, it is estimated that 10 million books were available in Europe. Our knowledge then became limited by what printed matter was available to us. This radical change in the access to knowledge accelerated the process of "knowledge aggregation" thus beginning "incremental sciences."1

In its initial issue, No. 001 - THE PENNY MAGAZINE - Mar. 31, 1832 discussed the social impact of its availability, from it is quoted: "The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge have considered it proper to commence this publication, from the belief that many persons, whose time and whose means are equally limited, may be induced to purchase and to read it."

This usage of technology to enhance knowledge aggregation and communication between individuals continues today on the web. Rufus Porter would have been one of the first to be online if he was here today. This page will attempt to gather information about old tools, and place it into organized units. Pointers to other places which have additional information about old tools will be used to extend access beyond the scope of this page.

1. Henry A. Swett MD, "Computers: power tools for imaging diagnosis,"DIAGNOSTIC IMAGING, May 1992, p. 97.

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Copyright (c) 1996 Philip A. Cannon All Rights Reserved
Old_tool/preface updated July 20th, 1996