JHW’s Notes: ProQuest bought Dialog & a Bit of History
In 1992 (my first annual conference) the big parties included Standard & Poors, Moody’s, and Dialog. Dialog, founded in 1967 by Roger Summit at Lockheed, was one of the "big dogs" and the service for information professionals. I had learned how to use Dialog while in graduate school by dialing in through paper terminals with analog modems. (By the way, a gentleman at the next table at Seattle’s Best just said that before there was the Internet, there was Dialog.)
Beginning in 1988, Dialog was bought and sold by several companies and has most recently been owned by Thomson Reuters. Along the way, Dialog moved from the Bay Area of California to North Carolina, and many people didn’t move with the company, including some who really knew the internal workings of the system and those hidden commands that helped librarians with massive queries.
Last week, ProQuest announced that it has purchased Dialog. ProQuest — under its current and previous company names — has been a old supplier of files to Dialog. For example, ABI/Inform — file 15 in Dialog — is owned by ProQuest. Files were numbered by when they were added to the Dialog system, so 15 is an old, old file in the system.
Dialog — the huge aggregator, the big dog, the 500 lb. gorilla, the elephant in the room of previous decades — will continue to look at how to fit into this current market for information discovery, a market where services like Google have turned the search world on its ear. As search continues to evolve, it will be interesting if the Internet search engines will look at the repositories held by aggregators like Dialog and seek to own them. Google’s all about adding content. Wouldn’t it be interesting if they — at some point — bought and added Dialog’s files to its service?
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