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Twenty Years of THOMAS

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?

THOMAS Starting PointOne 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).

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.

The THOMAS homepage, January 2004

The THOMAS homepage, January 2004

With the update in November 2005, THOMAS changed from the above image to the one below.

THOMAS Homepage, Nov. 2005

THOMAS homepage, Nov. 2005

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.

Beta Version of THOMAS, Available Dec. 2006-Dec. 2008 from the Homepage

Beta version of THOMAS, available Dec. 2006-Dec. 2008 from the homepage

Happy 20th birthday, THOMAS! I am counting down the days until you retire to Monticello, just like your namesake.

2 Comments

  1. Lambert Strether
    January 6, 2015 at 2:28 am

    So will there be a replacement with the same or better functionality?

  2. Andrew Weber
    January 6, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Yes, we are replacing it with Congress.gov. We launched Congress.gov in September 2012 and removed the beta label from it last September.

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