September 08, 2007


Milt Riback employed a boolean database system for managing his editorial contacts long before the advent of the personal computer.

By the early 1960s, he had replaced his Addressograph machine with one by Scriptomatic. This system used paper cards (fig. 1) that had a section set up for spirit duplication. This is where the address block went.

Around the edges of the cards were small holes that were numbered. A tool could punch one of the holes, removing the adjacent edge (fig. 2). Each hole had a value assigned by the user. In our case, one set of holes represented the type of media. Another set of holes was for the vertical industry or subject area. A third group represented the title of the addressee.

So, let's say you wanted to send a press release to all the automotive editors for daily newspapers as well as new product editors for automotive trade publications. You would do two searches.

For the first you would push a wand through the hole representing daily newspapers and put aside all the cards that you lifted. With the remaining cards you would wand the hole representing automotive editors. The cards that were left were the ones you wanted.

Assembling all the other cards again, you would repeat the process for automotive trade publications and from that group select new product editors.

Placing the two selected groups together, you now had your mailing list.

You would place those cards on the machine as well as a stack of envelopes. Turn a handle and it would feed the envelopes through as it reproduced an address on each one. Then all that was left was to stuff them with the release and mail.

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