Dialog is the most
successful of all database utilities/publishers, which are
companies that provide online access to multiple databases. I like
the term "utilities" because Dialog is like a utility in that it
funnels content from a variety of database vendors just like
PG&E buys oil and electricity from a variety of producers.
The company is a subsidiary of
the Thompson publishing conglomerate, one of the five largest
publishers in the world. Thomson also owns the Gale Group, which
produces the Infotrac and other databases; DataStar, Dialog's
European-oriented sibling; and Thomson ISI, which was formerly the
independent Institute for Scientific Information.
Most of the databases in Dialog
are created and published by database vendors who license them to
Dialog, other database utilities, and other organizations and
- About 500 databases available
over the Internet.
- Over 1200 databases including
the Euro-centric peer DataStar and Thomson's other related
- Used largely by businesses,
government, organization, medical, legal, and academic communities
because of the cost.
- Minimal use by public
- Substantial use by information
brokers, who are essentially librarians for a fee.
- Negligible use by individuals
A Very Brief
- Dialog was originally developed
at Lockheed Lockheed Missiles & Space Company in Sunnyvale,
CA. The database utility was the result of the desire to access
individual online databases via a single search (query) interface.
Individual databases were converted to a single format to make
unifed searching possible.
- The first databases in Dialog
in 1972 were the government's ERIC (Educational Resources
Information Center. File number 1) and NTIS (National Technical
Information Service) databases.
- In 1981 Lockheed formed Dialog
Information Services, Inc., as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
- In 1988 Knight-Ridder, which
owns numerous newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News),
purchased Dialog from Lockheed.
- In 1998, Knight-Ridder sold
Dialog to M.A.I.D., a United Kingdom vendor of online database
- In 2000, publishing giant
Thompson acquired Dialog.