Did you know that the Revised Standard Bible’s concordance was generated by computer…in 1955? Mashable explains how it was done. In what must surely be one of the first examples of computerized indexing of a book, Rev. John W. Ellison proposed to the Remington Rand company, owners of the Univac computer, that the computer could be used to shave literally decades of work off the process of creating a concordance of the Bible. The King James Bible’s concordance, composed in the second half of the 19th century, took 30 years to finish.
The process of programming Univac to index the Bible took a great deal of time. The Bible had to be transcribed to magnetic tape, twice, at five months each. After Univac compared the two to weed out typing mistakes, it then took 13 weeks to program the computer to generate the concordance, which was compiled into a 2,000-page book.
Of course, it would take considerably less time to do now, but the remarkable thing is that they were able to do it at all. You could say that they had to turn the Bible into an e-book in order to index it, though that would be stretching a point more than a little—the electronic version of the Bible wouldn’t have been human-readable. Nor was the final indexed product human-readable, until they went to the effort of translating it back out of binary. It would be quite some time before they managed to come up with human-readable digital media.
Still, it seems appropriate that the Bible, one of the earliest-written literary works to still be in common use today, should be one of the first to be indexed electronically.