Skip to Main Content

C&EN Special Issue – CAS Celebrates 100 Years

June 11, 2007
Volume 85, Number 24
Web Exclusive

Technological Legacy Of Success

Christian Zeidner, Projects Manager, Online Services Development

Except for an eight-month hiatus in the 1970s for a motorcycling adventure, I've been part of CAS's technology development team for my entire career and would not have chosen to do anything differently. My most vivid memories surround working with the amazingly talented people here. Let me give you two examples.

Lou O'Korn was my first boss when I entered management. Everything Lou did, he did fast. Lou thought fast, he worked fast, he had fast comebacks, and at meetings, he listened and doodled fast. For several years, Lou drove a group of guys to the OSU Horseshoe (the football stadium) for a run over our lunch break. Even if others finished ahead of Lou, he was always the first one showered and dressed waiting at the car as he inhaled his sack lunch. But most important, Lou was fast to encourage new ideas, fast to encourage his staff, and fast to confront problems head on.

For about half of my career, I had the privilege of working under Nick Farmer. Nick had the greatest technology impact during my CAS tenure, but he rarely let his technical abilities overshadow his business acumen. He earned the respect of the sharpest software developers, the most demanding customers, the shrewdest competitors, or the most probing CAS board members. Nick was creative, set high standards, led with passion, and worked with high energy. Nick's leadership left CAS a technology legacy that has endured since he retired five years ago.

Nick was heavily involved in shaping the STN technology and business architecture. His vision for the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office contract of the mid-1980s and his drive to make it happen resulted in the technology innovations that were subsequently leveraged to grow the STN franchise and launch SciFinder.

The technology he is most remembered for was one he devised over a weekend. CAS was ready to challenge Dialog and SDC by expanding the fledgling CAS Online (1980 predecessor to STN) structure search capability to also load and search bibliographic databases. We knew this was a core competency that CAS had to have control over, financially and technically. But time was of the essence, and the time it would take to develop it ourselves would jeopardize our chances for even getting into the marketplace.

Over that weekend, Nick saw the hierarchical database management system CAS had built in the early 1970s in a completely different light. He identified a few targeted and inexpensive changes that almost magically transformed it into the inverted text search technology critical to CAS's future.

Nick later championed an approach for applying it to structure searching and for running both text and structure searching on parallel commodity computers. The result in the late 1980s was the search engine???s architecture, functionally the same architecture used by Google in the '90s.

Zeidner received a B.S. degree in mathematics from Heidelberg College in 1969 and an M.S. degree in computer and information science from Ohio State University in 1973. He started with CAS as an associate programmer in June 1969. His job titles have included software engineer, projects manager, research department manager, manager of the Registry Renovation software development team, and manager in the New Products Development Department.

View other profiles

BÉla S. Buslig,
Volunteer Abstractor

Translating Is Easier Said Than Done

Raymond A. D'Angelo,
Director, Online Services Development

Computers Made It Possible

Richard Hermens,
Volunteer Abstractor

Abstracting's Unique Payoff

Cathy Hanning,
Human Resources Manager

Meaningful, Long-Lasting Friendships

John Manley,
Senior Financial Adviser, Cost Accounting

At CAS, A Value-Added Career

W. Val Metanomski,
Senior Scientific Information Specialist, Database Operations Department

Happy Historian

Vicki Nichols,
Department Manager, Editorial Systems

Having Fun On The Job

Eli M. Pearce,
Volunteer Abstractor

Abstracting For Lunch Money

Chiori Shimizu,
Assistant Scientific Document Analyst, Editorial Operations

Loyal Employer, Loyal Employee

Divya J. Soares-Khilnani,
Scientific Information Analyst, Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics

Success Is In CAS's DNA

Kathy Springer,
Manager, General Accounting

A Career Built On Opportunity

E. Thomas Strom,
Volunteer Abstractor

Not As Easy As It Looks

Barbara Vieira,
Senior Product Development Manager, New Product Development

The Human Side Of Chemistry

Shan Wei,
International Customer Service Representative

Thinking Globally At CAS

David Weisgerber,

People Who Come To CAS Rarely Leave

Pat Wilson,

Challenges And Opportunities, Always

Kris Woods,
Manager, Data Center Operations

The Only Constant Is Change

Christian Zeidner,
Projects Manager, Online Services Development

Technological Legacy Of Success