1. NICOLL, LESLIE H. PhD, MBA, RN-BC Editor-in-Chief

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Beginning with this volume, CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing celebrates its 25th year of publication. When founding editor Gary Hales, PhD, penned the first words of his first editor's comments, I wonder what he thought. Could he imagine what computers would look like 25 years later or that nurses would use them to map nursing concepts, educate students, or locate the latest evidence to incorporate in practice? Did he envision the Internet? Did he think that SPAM was just a canned meat product? (For the last question, the answer was probably yes.)


I thought back to 1982 and tried to remember "then" and "now." In 1982, I was married but didn't have any children. Now I have two, and the youngest is a freshman in college, studying nursing (yeah!). I had a master's degree but not a doctorate, although I was in the process of applying to my doctoral program. In fact, 2007 will be the 20th anniversary of my dissertation defense, on October 30. Oh wait, this isn't about me. Well, maybe it is. Sort of[horizontal ellipsis]


I bought my first computer in 1982. It was an Osborne 1 and was described in the advertising literature as "portable." At 24.5 pounds and the size of a sewing machine, I would say "luggable," but let's not quibble over details.


It cost $1795 and came bundled with $1500 worth of software, including SuperCalc, WordStar, and Mbasic. It had a CP/M operating system, which eventually led to the demise of the computer and company, as MS-DOS became the standard. The notion of bundling software was revolutionary, however, and is the legacy of the Osborne Computer Company that lives on to this day. Can you imagine buying a computer without software installed?

Figure 1 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 1. Volume 1, number 1 of
Figure 2 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 2. Volume 2, number 2 of

My computer had a 5-inch monitor and dual floppy disk drives (5.25" disks-remember those?). The disk with the program would be inserted on the left, and the blank disk (for saving your file) went in on the right. A box of 10 disks usually retailed for about $50.


I had a dot matrix printer, which also cost a small fortune, as I recall. WordStar had "dot commands" to do anything: set margins, tabs, and so on. It took me a year to figure out the dot command for underlining-and back in those days, American Psychological Association (APA) style was to underline titles of books and journals. What was my interim solution? I underlined by hand, with a ruler and marker!


I can mark stages of my professional career by the computers I have owned. After the Osborne 1 came an Osborne Executive, which was used to produce the first edition of Perspectives on Nursing Theory.1 My dissertation was typed on a Zenith (with a whopping big 10 megabyte hard drive). I also used that computer for my data analysis-after I persuaded my committee that a PC was sufficiently powerful for the type of analysis I needed to do.2

Figure 3 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 3. Volume 11, number 4, July/August 1993, with a new cover design.

Over the years, my computers got smaller and more powerful. For a while, it seemed as if an annual upgrade was needed as I moved through the '86' family of processors: 286, 386, 486. Surprisingly, the desktop I am typing this on-my workhorse-is 5 years old and going strong. Keeping up with the hardware has become somewhat more manageable and affordable.


I went through my Case Western doctoral program "long distance," but in those days, "distance learning" meant taking up residence in Cleveland, OH, for most of the summer. In between, I communicated with faculty by letter and phone. No fax, no e-mail, and no Internet, much less the notion of an online course. Federal Express (it wasn't FedEx then) was brand new, and it cost $35 to send a letter.


Thinking back to my doctoral program, e-mail would have been nice, but the thing that sticks in my mind is online access to information. To me, this is perhaps the biggest and most revolutionary change in the 25-year history of CIN. Three weeks after I defended my dissertation, I was at a conference, and one of the exhibitors was demonstrating GratefulMed from the National Library of Medicine. I stood there with my jaw hanging down to the floor. "If only I had had this over the past 3 years," I thought to myself. "How many hours of work would I have saved?"

Figure 4 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 4. Volume 13, number 5, September/October 1995, a new cover design and a new Editor-in-Chief.
Figure 5 - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE 5. Volume 20, number 2, March/April 2002, the debut of the new name,

Now, I can't imagine doing work any other way. Having archives of information-all types of information-has made enormous changes in the way I work and use information.


Similarly, computers and electronic information have moved inexorably into nursing practice. Not too long ago it was common for the editorial office to receive manuscripts delving into nurses' attitudes toward computers, this new device that threatened some and encouraged others. Now, point-of-care computing, clinical decision support, electronic medical records, even electronic patient education is almost taken for granted. In the future, they will likely become indispensable.


In honor of Gary Hales' vision, I would like to thank all of you-readers, authors, reviewers-who have worked to facilitate the use of computers in nursing and to examine the impact of technology and information science on nursing practice.


Here's to the next 25 years of CIN: Computers, Informatics, Nursing.




1. Nicoll LH. Perspectives on Nursing Theory. 1st ed. Boston, MA: Little, Brown; 1986. [Context Link]


2. Nicoll LH. The microcomputer: an alternative for data analysis. Nurs Res. 1987;36(5):320-323. [Context Link]