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Carlos A. Cuadra

  • Born: December 21, 1925, San Francisco, California

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0221
Interview Date: May 21, 2001
Location: Los Angeles, California
Interviewer: Colin B. Burke
No. of pages: 39
Minutes: 73
Sponsor: Eugene Garfield Foundation
Eugene Garfield Foundation

  Abstract of Interview

Carlos A. Cuadra, a pioneer in the field of information sciences, begins the interview by discussing his family and educational background. He describes how he continued his education while serving in the Navy during World War II. He did his undergraduate and graduate work in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and wrote his dissertation on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Upon graduation, Cuadra worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Downey, Illinois. While still in Downey, he was recruited by the RAND Corporation to work on projects related to the United States Air Force.

He began work for RAND in the System Development Division, which split off and became System Development Corporation (SDC). Dr. Cuadra began to learn about computers and programming while he was working on intelligence project 466L for the Air Force. He was made head of the Intelligence Systems Branch of SDC and worked on various information systems such as MEDLARS II, MEDLINE, ORBIT, and ELHILL. He became interested in the developing field of information science.

After meeting some of the pioneers of information science, he was surprised to learn that an annual review did not exist for that field. With the support of Hans Peter Luhn, IBM; Helen L. Brownson, National Science Foundation; and the American Documentation Institute, he started the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology. Cuadra briefly worked as a consultant for the National Academy of Science's Committee on Scientific and Technical Information (COSATI), and was later appointed to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), on which he served for thirteen years. By the time he became a member of NCLIS, he was the manager of the Education and Library Systems Department at SDC. During this time, Cuadra began to see a possible market for online information services. Within SDC, Cuadra created SDC Search Service, one of the first online retrieval services. In 1978 he founded his own company, Cuadra Associates (CA). CA was quite ahead of its time in that it foresaw the need for powerful information retrieval systems for in-house use. CA developed STAR, which was one of the first such systems. CA also published a directory of databases called the Directory of Online Databases. Cuadra concludes the interview with some thoughts about his work habits.

  Education

1949 B.A., Psychology, University of California, Berkeley
1953 Ph.D., Psychology, University of California, Berkeley

  Professional Experience

Veterans Administration Hospital

1953 - 1956 Staff Psychologist

System Development Corporation

1957 Training Specialist

System Development Corporation

1957 - 1959 Head, Personnel Planning and Training Group, Air Force Project 466L

System Development Corporation

1960 - 1962 Head, Project Team, Intelligence Systems

System Development Corporation

1963 - 1964 Staff Member, Special Projects Department

System Development Corporation

1965 - 1966 Technical Assistant to the Head of Special Development Division

System Development Corporation

1966 - 1967 Head, Information Systems Technical Staff

System Development Corporation

1968 - 1970 Manager, Library and Documentation Systems Department

System Development Corporation

1971 - 1974 Manager, Education and Library Systems Department

System Development Corporation

1974 - 1978 Manager, SDC Search Service

The Annual Review of Information Science and Technology

1964 - 1975 Editor

National Academy of Sciences Committee on Scientific and Technical Communication (SATCOM)

1968 Consultant

National Commission on Libraries and Information Science

1971 - 1984 Member

Cuadra Associates, Inc.

1978 - present Cofounder and President

University of California, Los Angeles

1979 - 1980 Adjunct Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences

American Chemical Society

1991 - 1997 Member of Governing Board, Chemical Abstracts Service

American Chemical Society

1997 - 2000 Member of Governing Board for Publishing

  Honors

1948 Phi Beta Kappa, University of California, Berkeley
1949 Highest Honors, University of California, Berkeley
1968 Merit Award, American Society for Information Science and Technology
1969 Best Information Science Book Award, American Society for Information Science and Technology
1970 Distinguished Lecturer, American Society for Information Science and Technology
1975 Information Product of the Year, Information Industry Association
1980 Hall of Fame Award, Information Industry Association
1980 Miles Conrad Memorial Lecture Award, The National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services
1987 Pioneer of Information Science, American Society for Information Science
1997 Honorary Fellow, The National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services
2001 Roger Summit Award, Association of Independent Information Professionals

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Family Background and Education 1

Growing up in San Francisco. Education while serving in the Navy during WWII. Undergraduate and graduate work in psychology at UC Berkeley. Post-graduate internships in clinical psychology.

Beginning to Work in Intelligence 5

Working for RAND Corporation and the US Air Force. Working at SDC and learning about computers. Air Force intelligence system project 466L. Working on other intelligence system projects at SDC.

Gaining Interest in Information Science 10

Developing information systems, including MEDLARS II, MEDLINE, ORBIT, and ELHILL. Attempting to develop fingerprint analysis techniques. Creating the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology. Becoming manager of Library and Documentation Systems Department at SDC.

Work on Government Committees 16

Participating on COSATI. Sitting on NCLIS. Disagreements within NCLIS. Attempts to establish a National Periodicals Center.

Developing Online Databases 23

Beginning to develop ideas for online information services. Managing SDC Search Service. Founding Cuadra Associates. Publishing the Directory of Online Databases. Creating STAR. Concluding thoughts.

Notes 27

Index 28

  About the Interviewer

Colin B. Burke

Colin B. Burke had recently retired from the history department at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County and held a research fellowship at Yale University when he came to CHF. He spent his residency working on his book on the history of computer-based scientific information systems and related government policies, from the 1950s through the early 1990s. He received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis and currently serves as associate professor emeritus at the University of Maryland. He also served as a Fulbright Scholar in Poland and as a scholar-in-residence at the National Security Agency.

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