Although not as numerous as the library automation products on display at recent meetings, there does appear to be an upsurge in the number of new software packages for general file creation and access displayed at recent information conferences.
Aaron/Smith Associates' Finder retrieval system claims to give microcomputer users the same kinds of retrieval power available with commercial data base systems such as LEXIS, BRS, and Dialog. This is achieved by the use of inverted files capable of indexing every word in a data base. For retrieval, the system offers Boolean operators, left and right truncation, and the ability to mask characters within words. Users can create their own stop word lists. Searching can be limited to specific fields in a record, as can indexing, if required. The system provides flexible display and print options.
Finder runs on the IBM PC, PC XT, PC AT, and compatible machines with PC-DOS operating systems. A hard-disk configuration is usually required to accommodate the data base. The number of records handled by the system is limited only by the amount of disk storage available. Except for the system requirement that each record must fit on a single screen, a record may have up to 50 fields, and each field can accommodate up to 255 characters.
The software is priced at $1,495. This includes the programs, documentation, and two hours of data base design consultancy. A retrieval-only module is available separately for $295, and a data entry/retrieval module, which permits the updating and searching of a data base but does not support the creation of new data bases, is $495. These options are designed to permit the searching and updating of copies of a data base in locations remote from that in which it was created.
Despite its name, the MARCON software is not designed to support library cataloging operations. Instead, it was developed by AIRS, Inc., of Baltimore to support the creation and searching of Micro Archives and Records ONline. It handles records of all types, formatted and full text.
MARCON is based on a mainframe system design developed for use in university archives and record centers. It runs on the IBM PC, the AT&T PC, and compatible micros. Most applications require hard disk storage. The programs are written in Pascal and utilize the UCSDP operating system.
Among the applications supported by MARCON are the creation of bibliographic data bases and hierarchical thesauri. Records may contain up to 7,560 characters and up to 175 fields. Boolean techniques may be applied in searching. MARCON is priced at $895.
Cucumber Information Systems of Rockville, MD offers SIRE for information retrieval on the IBM PC, DEC PDP/ 11, and VAX and other computers utilizing the UNIX, MS-DOS, or RSX operating system. The system may be used to create documents of any length. If required, these may be formatted into fields-256 fields per record can be accommodated. There is no limit to field length and all fields are variable in length. Field names are parameterized and may be ready set and changed by the user. Data may be automatically indexed as it is entered.
A variety of search options is sup>, ported: keyword, Boolean, adjacency, and truncation. Searches can be expanded by the system identifying the characteristic of relevant retrieved documents and automatically searching for other items that share these characteristics. Search results may be ranked in order of their potential relevance to the user's query. Output may also be formatted by specifying alphabetic sorting on the contents of any required field.
Capable of supporting data bases of up to 64,000 documents, the MS-DOS version of SIRE costs $600 and the "small" UNIX system version is priced at $2,500. For data bases of up to 16 million documents, the REX version costs $5,000 and the large system UNIX version will be the same price.
Readers should note the current pricing for Cuadra Associates' STAR system, which many libraries and information centers have chosen for information retrieval applications. Since STAR is marketed as a turnkey system rather than a software package, the prices include both hardware and software. Configured around Alpha Micro computers, STAR accommodates both fulltext and formatted files. It is available in a range of configurations, from a single-user system with a 10 MB hard disk for $19,560 to eight-user systems that begin at $30,355. The largest systems can accommodate up to 20 users and high-speed hard disks of 400 MB. These systems, priced at around $80,000, also include a magnetic tape drive.
[Contact: Aaron/Smith Associates, Inc., Suite 518, 1422 West Peachtree St., N.W., Atlanta, GA 30309, (404) 876-0085; AIRS, Inc., P.O. Box 16322, Baltimore, MD 21210; Cucumber Information Systems, 5611 Kraft Dr., Rockville, MD 20852, (301) 984-3539 and (301) 881-2722; Cuadra Associates, Inc., 2001 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 305, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (213) 829-9972]