Not only the rapid development of technologies that have significantly influenced practices and research methods in this field, but also the emergence of organizations and infrastructures have played an important role in the history of the digital humanities.
Milestones in the history of the digital humanities
The history of the digital humanities can be viewed from several perspectives. The first one concerns the technologies that have significantly influenced practices and research methods in this field. Another important aspect involves the individual projects that have influenced the digital humanities and their further development. Infrastructures and institutions are undoubtedly an important area for the development of the digital humanities, enabling communication among scholars involved in research in this field, providing access to data repositories, organizing conferences, and often also offering educational materials.
Roberto Busa and Index Thomisticus
While there are a number of milestones that have shaped the development of the digital humanities, the beginnings in this area are associated with the efforts of the Jesuit Robert Busa, who, in cooperation with IBM, used computer technology to analyse the writings of Thomas Aquinas and created the so-called Index Thomisticus, a database that lemmatizes the entire work of Thomas Aquinas and related authors. This event is considered to be the first “Digital Humanities” project.
Onset of the optical character recognition (OCR) technology
This marks the beginning of the widespread development of OCR (optical character recognition), although the Austrian engineer Gustav Tauschek obtained a patent for it already in the 1920s.
Origin of GIS
Roger Tomlinson, known as the “father of GIS”, created and developed the first geographic information system (GIS) for use by the Canadian Land Inventory in the early 1960s.
The first journal on the use of computers in the humanities
The journal called Computers and the Humanities, founded by Joseph Raben, was the first periodical in the field of application of computer methods in the humanities.
The first mention of the term Humanities Computing
One of the first references to the term “Humanities Computing” (predecessor of the term “Digital Humanities”) in an article in the Computers and the Humanities journal.
The first conference in the field of Humanities Computing
The first conference of the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing (since 2011, European Association for Digital Humanities) was held at the University of Cambridge.
Establishment of the Association for Computers and the Humanities
The Association for Computers and the Humanities was established as a forum for research, discussion and technical research in the field of humanities.
Index Thomisticus completed
After thirty years of work, Roberto Busa completed his work Index Thomisticus.
SGML language created
SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language), adapted from the IBM’s generalized markup language (GML), was approved and published in October as ISO 8879:1986.
Launching the Perseus project
Launch of the Perseus digital library, one of the early projects in the DH area, with photographs and texts contributed by archives, special collections, libraries, and museums.
World Wide Web
World Wide Web (WWW), created by Tim Berners-Lee, was originally developed to share information among scientists at universities and research institutes all over the world.
The Rossetti Archive project
Jerome McGann begins his work on the Rossetti Archive, an edition of facsimile and transcription of manuscripts, paintings and publications by the painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
The first draft of the XML language
The first XML (Extensible Markup Language) draft was created. XML was designed for easy implementation and interoperability with SGML and HTML.
The first Digital Humanities conference
The first joint ALLC-ACH conference was held in 1989 at the University of Toronto, later to become the annual ADHO conference.
The Women writers project
The Women Writers Project published on the website. A long-term research project dedicated to pre-Victorian women writers, which uses TEI encoding.
The concept of Distant Reading introduced
Franco Moretti presents the concept of Distant Reading in his article “Conjectures on World Literature”.
Wikipedia, an online encyclopaedia based on a model of editable content, where anyone with an Internet access can write and make changes to records.
Google Books project launched
The launch of the Google Books project, containing millions of books, provided by publishers, authors and libraries, that Google has scanned, converted to text using optical character recognition (OCR), and stored in its digital database.
The first use of the term Digital Humanities
The term “digital humanities” is presented in the publication: The New Companion to Digital Humanities by John Unsworth.
ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium)
The establishment of ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium), which later became DARIAH, an organization that provides services to research communities in the field of digital humanities.
The first prototype of the Europeana project
A prototype of the European digital library network, the predecessor of Europeana, a web portal with more than 10 million cultural and scientific artefacts from European cultural institutions, was launched.
The first projects in the field of cultural analytics
Culturomics - “Science” publishes the work of Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel on the topic of “Culturomics”, in which they describe the concept of quantitative analysis of digitized texts for the purpose of studying cultural phenomena.
The Selfiecity project
Introducing Manovich’s Selfiecity, which analyses and visualizes thousands of selfies from five global cities and explores how people represent themselves through photos on social media. Manovich’s work is essential for the field of cultural analytics.
Establishment of CzADH (Czech Association for Digital Humanities)
The official establishment of the Czech Association of Digital Humanities (CzADH), which brings together more than 30 researchers and several institutions involved in the research in the digital humanities.