Even though we are working to retire THOMAS, I thought we should celebrate the fact that it has now been online for twenty years! THOMAS was a pioneer when it was launched on January 5, 1995. It was even noteworthy that THOMAS was “available 24 hours a day.” I have been at the Library of Congress for just over ten years and have worked on THOMAS (and now Congress.gov) for part of that time. The Library’s website is like the Library itself — there is a lot of content and sometimes one finds surprises while doing research. Did you know that THOMAS was once defaced? Or did you know there was a page with Legislation Related to the Attack of September 11, 2001?
One of the more detailed reports about the launch of THOMAS is from the Library of Congress Information Bulletin article, Congress on the Internet. Then there are various links about the history of THOMAS. I am primarily focusing on the last few years (the part I am most familiar with).
- Thomas Jefferson was born, April 13, 1743.
- THOMAS launched, Jan. 5, 1995.
- More than 36,000 users in first nine days of THOMAS, Jan. 1995.
- THOMAS logs its millionth query, Feb. 1995.
- THOMAS hacked, Jan. 2000.
- A THOMAS facelift/press release Nov. 2005.
- Top five bills and increased timeout and 15th birthday/press release, Jan. 2010.
- Homepage enhancement, better browse and search options, June 2010.
- Recess revamp, Aug. 2010.
- Search and title improvements, Dec. 2010.
- Constitutional Authority Statements added, Feb. 2011.
- THOMAS joins Twitter, Apr. 2011.
- Social media additions, June 2011.
- THOMAS on Jeopardy, July 2011.
- THOMAS celebrated its 17th birthday, Jan. 2012.
- Watch House Committee Hearings on THOMAS, Feb. 2012.
- Congress.gov was introduced, Sept. 2012.
- THOMAS.gov and THOMAS.loc.gov redirect to Congress.gov, Nov. 2013.
- Removed the beta label from Congress.gov, Sept. 2014.
I combed the web archive and found a few images of THOMAS at various points in time. The earliest version of the homepage I saw was this one from 2004.
With the update in November 2005, THOMAS changed from the above image to the one below.
For two years between 2006 to 2008, this beta version of THOMAS was available from the homepage. With the start of the 111th Congress, the link to the beta was removed.
Happy 20th birthday, THOMAS! I am counting down the days until you retire to Monticello, just like your namesake.