IV.3 Tracing of Key Events in the Development of the Video Tape Recorder

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Francis Narin

Francis Narin, Principal Investigator of the TRACES study at IITRI, founded CHI Research in Chicago in 1968 to develop and serve “indicator services” for government and private clients. CHI Research went on to become a leading bibliometrics research firm for the next 35 years, pioneering the application of bibliometrics to science indicators, patent citation analysis, the linking of patents and papers, and the linkage between quality patents and stock market performance. The tracing shown here was developed by George Benn under the direction of Narin. It was part of the TRACES study entitled Technology in Retrospect and Critical Events in Science, funded by the National Science Foundation. Key events that led to the development of the video tape recorder were identified by knowledgeable research scientists and classified into three categories: non-mission research (red circles), mission-oriented research (blue triangles), and development and application (green squares). They were then organized in time, grouped, and interlinked. The resulting map is a first attempt to quantify the types of events and time lags that occur in the entire R&D process, from basic (non-mission) research to the commercial availability of a product. Most notable are the six different streams of knowledge that had to converge to produce the video tape recorder.


Moll, Joy K., and Francis Narin. 1977. “Bibliometrics.” Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 12: 35-38.

Narin, Francis. 1976. Evaluative Bibliometrics: The Use of Publication and Citation Analysis in the Evaluation of Scientific Activity. Cherry Hill, NJ: Computer Horizons, Inc.

Benn, George and Francis Narin. 1969. Tracing of Key Events in the Development of the Video Tape Recorder. From Technology in Retrospect and Critical Events in Science. Courtesy of the IIT Research Institute. In “4th Iteration (2008): Science Maps for Economic Decision-Makers,” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Elisha F. Hardy. http://scimaps.org.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.