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CODATA History

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Written by David R. Lide and Gordon H. Wood, CODATA@45Years: the story of the ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) from 1966 to 2010 provides an overview of CODATA’s activities and achievements since its foundation.  As the authors remark, ‘what CODATA has accomplished in these 45 years greatly exceeds the output that might be expected from its budget and paid staff.  Thus is it with pleasure that we dedicate this book to the hundreds of people who have volunteered their time and energy to participate in CODATA projects.’

This passage from the introduction makes particularly interesting reading:

Following the end of World War II, there was a rapid increase throughout the developed world in the the number of scientists carrying out research.  At the same time new, automated instrumentation made it possible to perform physical measurements much more efficiently.  These two factors led to an exponential expansion in the amount of data published in the scientific literature and compiled in handbooks and repositories.  By the early 1960s, a number of scientific leaders began to realise that this deluge of data was swamping the traditional publication and retrieval mechanisms, and that there was a danger that much of it would be lost to future generations.  When several of these leaders got together and agreed that an organised international effort was needed to improve the management and preservation of scientific data and to facilitate coordination among interested groups throughout the world, the creation of CODATA was the outcome.

Sound familiar?  These challenges, of course, are still with us!

The video below summarises the history and may also be of interest.