AGU Meets the Computer Age, 1986

By Vicki Zwart

The American Geophysical Union joined the computer age in 1986 when its electronic communications network Kosmos went online. It was established to provide alternative means for communication between and among AGU members and more importantly, according to Eos, Vol. 67, No. 39, “to begin establishing the means for AGU to deliver products electronically.”

The first subscriber accounts were established in November of 1986 and by the end of the year, 156 individual accounts were active. Online content included legislative coverage, a geophysical meetings calendar, classified ads and the program for the 1986 Fall Meeting – 3 weeks before the abstract issue was in the mail! Members could order books, change their address and make claims for missing journals all electronically.

By the end of 1987, Kosmos had gone international, serving geophysicists around the world. In addition to the electronic mail, the network gave global users easy access to other scientists for consultation, registration for meetings and scientific news and information bulletin boards. According to the Annual Report for 1987 in Eos, Vol. 69, No. 17, another of AGU’s major goals was to use Kosmos “to connect individual scientists by setting up gateways with other networks … to establish a true network of Earth and space scientists.”

The Kosmos network helped make life easier for those submitting meeting abstracts. In 1995, about 30% of the Spring Meeting abstracts were submitted electronically, giving procrastinating presenters the ability to submit up to the last day.  And by 1996, nearly all abstracts were expected to be submitted through Kosmos.

Also in 1995, AGU was moving forward on its mission to deliver products electronically with the development of a prototype journal, Earth Interactions. The publication gave authors the means to use computer animations and other visualization techniques that could not be accommodated by traditional publishing. The journal was launched in 1997.



In the beginning, a Kosmos connection was available through PINET, which was operated by the American Institute of Physics. Using Kosmos on PINET provided access to a variety of databases, including the AGU membership directory, meetings information, and various geophysical and political news.

The electronic abstract submission service through Kosmos went live in 1991.  It caught on quickly after just 30 abstracts were submitted for the Spring Meeting … 200 were sent for the Fall Meeting!

In 1993, Kosmos provided access to AGU’s “Current Publications Index” containing full bibliographic information for all of the Union’s publications: journals books, and translations.

Earth Interactions was published jointly by AGU and the American Meteorological Society.

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