A post on Above the Law today noted the launch of Lexis on April 2nd 1978. I recalled reading that there was an Ohio Bar system which predated Lexis so I did some research. Lexis created a  history of online research Timeline  for its 30th anniversary. This timeline points to the initiatives by the Ohio State Bar Association. In 1965   bar members James F Preston Jr and William G Harrington created the seminal definition of electronic legal research as a “non-indexed, full text, online, interactive, computer assisted service”
The bar association later created a non-profit called Obar (Ohio Bar Automated Research  Corporation) which retained a small technology company Data Corp. to create a database of the Ohio cases and statutes. The company was subsequently purchased and became Mead Data the original owner of Lexis.
The Original Lexis DeLuxe Terminal

All this mental time travel reminded me of my first encounter with a Lexis terminal when it was wheeled into the Pace University Law Library in 1979. The Deluxe terminal shown here was the size of a washing machine and despite its weight and girth it was remarkably “dumb.” It had no computing power. It dialed up and searched a remote database over telephone lines. It could not print out a full case, but you could print a section of “key words in context” KWIC  on exotic silver paper. I mused about the empty directory screen which listed only 4 databases – cases and statutes from New York and Ohio. I wondered for nano-second why I hadn’t pulled out my iPhone in 1979 and taken a picture of the barren black screen on the Deluxe terminal —  ooops the iPhone was 30 years in the future.

More Shots From “The Lexis Museum”
The Pre-GUI Lexis Display
The Deluxe was replaced by the compact Ubiq terminal.
The many faces of Lexis

Lexis And ABA Enter eBook Agreement

ABAToday LexisNexis and the American Bar Association announced an agreement to have over 200 ABA eBook titles available through the LexisNexis Digital Library– the LexisNexis eBook platform. Access to the ABA Library will be available on a subscription basis through theLexisNexis Digital Library. Single user titles will continue to be available through the ABA bookstore

While I applaud this initiative, I am a proponent of the multi-modal approach -publishers should make information available through many platforms. Let the users decide how they want to consume the information. There was a time when Lexis offered a searchable library of ABA publications on the LexisNexis platform, maybe we can go back to the future….