Johns Hopkins University
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Supporting Documentation (contact author for more information):
Author’s note: some of the specific details (i.e. people’s names, names of software, etc.) have slipped my mind – if this story is useful, I can go back to my notes and find the details which I can’t remember.
During the summer of 1992, I was working as a summer student at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland (Laboratory of Cellular Metabolism, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) under Dr. Joel Moss. I was there primarily to aid Dr. Moss’ researchers in computerized analysis of their experimental data. One of the researchers needed a certain analysis done on several DNA sequences. After some research and phone calls, I found out that a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had written a publicly available computer program which performs the type of analysis we needed.
I was able to get a copy of the program — but only after a week’s worth of waiting which involved paperwork, mailing a letter to MIT requesting a copy of the program, waiting for them to reply, and waiting for their reply and the program to reach us through the US Postal service.
When I finally received the program, I realized, after working with it for several hours, that it did not do exactly what we needed it to do. I called the researcher at MIT, and he informed me that the type of analysis I was trying to do had been eliminated from the current version of the program (the version he had sent me), but one of their older versions would do the analysis.
I was initially dismayed, expecting I would have to wait another week for the correct version of the program to arrive through the mail, until he said “Do you have access to Internet FTP?” which, thankfully, I did.
30 minutes later, I had a copy of the program in my virtual hands.