It all started with using BibTeX with LaTeX for my papers.
BibTeX provides some very flexible and powerful tools for creating
fine-looking bibliographies and references. With the number of references
I needed for my university papers the free-format text-file approach
worked out fine. It was not very easy to use and modify, but was
adequate for my use.
Frans van Eijnatten, having collected literature on Socio-Technical
Systems Design for more than 10 years,
did have a problem on a larger scale. He wanted
to publish a bibliography on SocioTechnical Systems Design containing
a few thousand references. He was using a Macintosh-based program
called LiteratuurManager to manage these references.
LiteratuurManager is a hypercard stack using the one-reference,
one-card approach. This slows down to an unacceptable level at
about 1000 references on the Macintosh IIci then available. The older
Macs still used had problems when more than about 200 references
were used. In addition to the slowing down, it also couldn't handle
lists of references longer than 32K characters (a limit on the size
of a character field in Hypercard).
Frans did want to use American Psychological Association (APA)
style for formatting his references. Both LiteratuurManager and
BibTeX provide an APA style, but that has a lot of loose ends and
First I wrote some Hypertalk (the programming language of Hypercard)
code to improve the APA-like layout LiteratuurManager used, and then I
modified the list generating and exporting code so a RTF (Microsoft
Word interchange format: Rich Text Format) file could be produced
with a list of all references in APA format.
I also wrote some code to export these lists of cards to a LaTeX-based
card format capable of printing 6 cards on A4.
Next I developed a small database program for a PC using DOS capable of
handling some 3000 references in 640k of ram. Some simple compression
techniques were needed to make that possible. The program was
extremely fast and small, and allowed the same exports as the hypercard stack.
This was later converted to a dutch-language version, and a protected-mode
one capable of handling 16k references with sufficient ram (8M).
This first program was delivered on one floppy disc with the bibliography