4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

Stephen Parrish's Concordance of the Poems of Matthew Arnold: the First Computerized Literary Concordance (1959)


The first published concordance of a literary work was probably Stephen M Parrish's A Concordance to the Poems of Matthew Arnold published by Cornell University Press in 1959. According to the Cornell Daily Sun newspaper issue for February 15, 1960, p. 6:

"The University Press introduced the use of an electronic computer to prepare "A Concordance to the Poems of Matthew Arnold," edited by Prof. Stephen M. Parrish of the Department of English.

"The device eliminates years of tedious work previously needed to prepare such volumes, and will serve as a model for future editions.

"The IBM 704 Computer reads 15,000 characters and makes 42,000 logical decisions per second. The computer run took 38 hours and the printing took 10 hours.

"The new process produces finished pages ready for offset reproduction and greatly reduces the number of errors.

"One feature of the concordance, unavailable in hand-edited volumes, is the Appendix, which lists the words of Arnold's vocabulary in order of frequency, and also gives the frequency of the word."

Parrish's concordance was reproduced by offset from line printer output in uppercase letters, with punctuation omitted, causing such ambiguities as making shell indistinguishable from she'll.