In November 1958, at a six-day international conference devoted to scientific information, the inventor Hans Peter Luhn demonstrated a series of his electromechanical machines.
Taking in a large number of texts—typically, articles from 500 to 5,000 words in length—the KWIC system could quickly and automatically construct a kind of index.
His many inventions seemed to belong to an earlier, predigital era of mechanical calculators and slide rules.
His father, Johann, was a master printer, prosperous and apparently very tolerant of his children’s endeavors.
Luhn & Associates, an engineering consulting company that Luhn founded.
One device consisted of a metallic ribbon inserted into a typewriter, which punched magnetic patterns onto paper that could then be scanned by machine.