The History Of Information Science

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Early Beginning
  3. Nineteenth-century
  4. The Documentation
  5. Twentieth-century
  6. Modern change in Information Science
  7. Conclusion
  8. References


Information science can be defined as a branch that explores the characteristics and conduct of data, the driving forces that control the flow of information, and ways of optimally accessing and using absorbed information. It is composed of branches of science that majorly deal with collecting, classifying, manipulating, storing, retrieving, and disseminating information (Yan, 2011). Information science is a wide interdisciplinary area that incorporates computer science features, library science, intellectual and with the inclusion of social sciences. It deals with understanding challenges from the stakeholders' viewpoint and then using the information technology as required (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). Therefore, it handles systemic challenges fast more than a person's technology in the system. In the information science, much focus is been granted to the interaction of human and computer, iterative design processes, groupware, value-delicate design, and the methods individuals generate and use information. The science of information needs not to be misunderstood with theory of information and maybe studying any kind of mathematics concept or the science of library, and any field that closely relates libraries that applies the same principles as of information science (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). This paper discusses the history of information science, highlighting its developmental milestones.

The Early Beginning

Information science traces its origin during the ordinary of humanoid knowledge. The information analysis was done by scholars during the Abyssinian Empire with cultural depository’s appearance what today is referred to as libraries and archives (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). In the institutions, information science is said to have come up during the nineteenth century together with other many communal science disciplines (Rayward, 1996). Information science has its institutional beginning in the science history starting with 'philosophical publications' which was referred to as the first scientific journal during the year 1665 in the Roya society. Science institutionalization happened during eighteenth century with Benjamin Franklin putting up the Philadelphia’s Library Company in 1731, which became the first-ever 'public' library and quickly grew beyond the empire of books (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). It expanded to a scientific experimental center and it also carried out public demonstrations of scientific trials. With the continued formation and founding societies and many other scientific journals, Alois Senefelder discovered the lithography concept in 1796 which was to be used in mass production exercise in Germany (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009).


In the nineteenth century, signs of information science came up as different and unique from the rest of social sciences and other sciences nevertheless, in combination with calculation and communication. During 1801, there was an invention of a punched card system by Joseph Marie which was used in controlling procedures in the cloth interlacing loom in France (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). By 1834, Charles Babbage came up with a “difference engine” which was the initial phase to the current computer, and during 1844 first telegraph communication message was sent by Samuel Morse (Buckland, 1995). In 1865, Smithsonian Institution commenced a collection for the present scientific papers that developed the “International Catalogue of Scientific Papers” later during 1902 (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). In 1872, an analog computer that could predict tides was developed by Lord Kelvin, and during 1875, Frank Baldwin was given first ownership for a practical calculating apparatus that does four mathematics functions (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). At around 1879, 'Index Medicus' became the first to be granted by the Library of Surgeon General, Army and John Shaw Billings becoming the librarian attendant and the library later issuing “Index Catalogue” hence gaining global status as the highly comprehensive index of medical literature (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009).

The Documentation

European documenting emerged during the late period of the nineteenth century and marked the first theoretical bases of up-to-date information science. Information science was not readily used in the academic world until then 2nd World War (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). The documentarists highlighted the practical incorporation of technology and procedure in the direction of precise social goals. The majority of information and science historians refer Henri La Fontaine and Paul Otlet as pioneers of information science in their development of the International Institute of Bibliography (IIB) during 1895 (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). Both Lafontaine and Otlet projected future procedural innovations and also predicted worldwide vision for information that speaks right away to postwar dreams of worldwide 'information society'. They put up many institutions devoted to calibration, bibliography, international cooperation, and they also came up with universal decimal classification (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). Despite that Otlet lived some many decades ago before the discovery of networks and computers which he had described is what later transitioned to World Wide Web.

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From the year 1950, information science awareness begun to increase as programmed devices of searching, keeping, and information retrieval were introduced. Between the years 1960s and 1970s, information science grew faster since there was introduction of micro and mini computers which was an advancement of the mainframe computer (Yan, 2011). These machines were capable of keeping large amounts of data, process it for easy retrieval. Medical and law programs were also incorporated in the social sciences. At the start of the 1980s, larger machines were first accessed by people using their personal computers such as user-oriented services and the National Library of Medicinal laboratories (Yan, 2011). During this time, many science-related books were published having the article name “Introduction to information science” which is one of the best articles used even up-to-date. Further studies were taken to get a better understanding of the upgrading machine and in the end, many disciplines of information were found. For instance, cybernetics, semantics, system theories like the automata theory, and many others were generally published (Yan, 2011). In the year 1994, a Conference was held in Madrid to discuss the rising articles of Information Science and the additional disciplines that relate closely with information. There was the structuring of the 2nd law, quantum theory measurements, non-linear and non-equilibrium, electronics and just to mention but a few (Yan, 2011). From that time up to date, many disciplines relating to information science have been introduced in many fields over the world. Since then, these disciplines were treated as academic concepts but today they have changed into branches of information in study cores. These disciplines are mostly majoring in information-related theories, information of sciences, and informatics which establish a good Information Science.

Modern change in Information Science

Information Science has changed its historical background meaning due to the advancement in technology (The Internet). With internet effects, social mass media has altered information landscape in many ways bringing up new communicating styles (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). Today, networks allow higher dissemination of information than the past means of dissemination. The internet has created an open environment for information distribution for many people who have a limitation of accessing information through traditional outlet means. It is made possible by the current trends in the information sector like the introduction of mobile phones, computers which have resulted in different information skills (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). It is also responsible for good storage, manipulation, classification, and retrieval of data. Introduction of new channels of communication such as WhatsApp, Twitter, and so on provide the visibility of the audience who are sharing certain information. This new means provide fast sharing, commenting on information, and increases the spread time of data as compared to traditional ways (Khosrow-Pour & Khosrowpour, 2009). People are interested in the modern ways of sharing data as they have better influences from the social media and are termed as a “play nice” for persons who desire to pass information. Even though it is of mutual benefit, it is capable of improving both users’ understandings when approaching any social media.

Todays' social media is capable of covering wide area information and spreading it over the world within the shortest time possible. Information through sending pictures is a clear way of communicating since one can get the right piece of information without being deceived. Information management is termed as a gathering of information from one basis to another, storing and being easily retrieved when the user is in need of it. Unlike the past where information management was stressful to keep since large files were needed and occupied a lot of space. Today is it simple to store information in a small and portable device where generally has led to the simplification of life in today’s world.


Information Science started a long time ago with many challenges of passing information from one individual to another. Information Science simply captures the way information is structured, interpreted, and passed from one person to another in a simple way which can be understood. Historically, Information Science was not as easy as today since simpler ways of sharing information have come. Today, many simpler ways have come to ease the way people are communicating when in different places. To add on, there is a simplification of how things should be done as far as information sharing is concerned. Small and portable devices have been established which assist to ease information science across the world.


  1. Buckland, M. K., & Liu, Z. (1995). History of information science. Annual review of information science and technology, 30, 385-416.
  2. Khosrow-Pour, M., & Khosrowpour, M. (Eds.). (2009). Encyclopedia of information science and technology (Vol. 1). IGI Global Snippet.
  3. Rayward, W. B. (1996). The history and historiography of information science: some reflections. Information processing & management, 32(1), 3-17
  4. Yan, X. S. (2011). Information science: its past, present, and future. Information, 2(3), 510-527.
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