Artifact Details


Bourne, Charles (Charlie) oral history

Catalog Number





Charles (Charlie) Bourne is an information scientist and engineer who is a pioneer in information retrieval services. He specialized in areas such as search and information retrieval systems, library analysis, automation and evaluation, and natural systems. Born in San Francisco on September 2, 1931, Bourne grew up in Los Gatos, California. After graduating from high school, Bourne enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve, where he spent several years on active duty and worked as an instructor. In August 1953, he married Elizabeth Scheidtmann and started courses at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), in the School of Engineering. Bourne received a BS in Electrical Engineering with a specialization in Computers from UCB in 1957 and an MS in Industrial Engineering, specializing in computer technology, from Stanford University in 1963.
From 1957 to 1966, Bourne worked as a research engineer at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in their Computer Systems Lab. He then spent five years in private industry, working as a vice-president at Information General Corporation as well as consulting in the information industry. From 1971 to 1977, Bourne worked as a professor at the School of Librarianship and Information Studies at UCB. During this time, he was also the director of the Institute of Library Research at the university. Beginning in 1977, Bourne began working at Dialog Information Services, initially as a project manager and eventually as Vice President of the General Information Division. He worked there until 1992.
For much of his professional career, Bourne also worked as a consultant for libraries, schools, academies, and government institutions. Clients of note include the Stanford University Libraries, UNESCO, National Academy of Science, Library of Congress, National Agricultural Library, US Patent Office, United Nations, and Central Intelligence Agency. Most of his work as a consultant involved evaluating, developing, and upgrading information systems, serving on advisory panels, and working to increase access to information through improving technical information services in developing countries.
Bourne is the author or co-author of several books, including Methods of Information Handling (1963), which won the American Documentation Institute (ADI) Book-of-the-Year award, Technology in Support of Library Science and Information Service (1980), and A History of Online Information Services, 1963-1976 (2003), which won the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Book-of-the-Year award. Bourne has also received a number of awards for his professional accomplishments. He was a recipient of the ADI/ASIS&T Award of Merit in 1965, was named a Pioneer of Information Science by ASIS&T in 1987, and was honored by the National Federation of Abstracting and Indexing Services for “Achievement in the field of Information Science and Distinguished Service to the Federation” in 1999.




Bourne, Charles P., Interviewee
Dennis, Eric, Videographer
Weber, Marc, Interviewer


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA, USA


37 p.






online search; Information science; Information retrieval; online information systems; Engelbart, Douglas; SRI; DIALOG Information Services; Search engine

Collection Title

CHM oral history collection


Computer History Museum

Lot Number


Related Records

102737963 Bourne, Charles (Charlie) oral history