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Ohio Bar Automated Research (OBAR)

The Judge Ben C. Green Law Library Special Collection #3


A group of Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) members began investigating computer assisted legal research technology in the mid 1960s, subsequently forming a nonprofit subsidiary in 1967, the Ohio Bar Automated Research (previous hit OBAR next hit), to develop a computer assisted legal research system for Ohio lawyers. previous hit OBAR next hit contracted with Data Corporation, an Ohio based company specializing in information retrieval, to create the service. Essentially Data Corporation would provide the technology development while previous hit OBAR next hit would raise funds, market, and administer the service (also called previous hit OBAR next hit); both entities were to divide sales revenues. Computer assisted legal research proved feasible; but response time, communication protocol, and other issues were problematic. More funding was necessary to solve technical issues, but both previous hit OBAR next hit and Data Corporation had constraints about committing to additional funding.

Unexpectedly, U.S. based Mead Corporation acquired Data Central as a wholly owned subsidiary in 1969. Initially interested in Data Corporation's scanning technology, Mead became interested in the automated search service developed by previous hit OBAR next hit and Data Corporation. Mead's market research indicated that while a market for online research existed, the existing database required substantial rebuilding. Deciding to go forward with developing an online system, Mead formed a new subsidiary, Mead Data Central (MDC), to concentrate solely on a nationwide automated legal research system. During the next few years Mead invested millions of dollars in the redevelopment of the database, although previous hit OBAR's next hit early concept for a full text, interactive system remained.

By 1971, points of tension developed in previous hit OBAR next hit and MDC's non-profit/commercial joint venture, but previous hit OBAR next hit continued to promote the system, while MDC handled the business and technical aspects. In 1971 previous hit OBAR next hit sold its proprietary interests to Mead Data Central, re

Date Event
1960 Demonstration of "Horty system" at ABA annual meeting (serves as early previous hit OBAR next hit model)
1964-66 OSBA begins investigation of online legal research database development
1966 1966: OSBA crafts service definition for legal reseach database
Jan., 1967 OSBA forms subsidiary nonprofit corporation, previous hit OBAR next hit, to develop automated research project
1967 OBAR contracts with Data Corporation (Gorog, Giering) for database development support
1967 OBAR sells debenture bonds to members of the OSBA to raise funds for the contract
1967-69 OBAR/Data Corporation continue carrying out terms of contract & establish working service
1968 Mead Corporation acquires Data Corporation (initial interest is in DC's scanning technology)
Oct., 1969 Mead contracts with N.Y. firm, A.D. Little, for market studies about automated research
Feb., 1970 Mead forms new subsidiary, Mead Data Central (MDC) for nationwide automated research service
1971 Robert Asman becomes OBAR President; OBAR continues relationship with MDC for terms of contract
1971 Case Western Reserve law school begins using OBAR system
1971 Jerome Rubin replaces Donald Wilson as president of Mead Data Central
Feb., 1971 OBAR sells proprietary interests to MDC in return for 10 year royalty payments
1972 Ohio market test for second generation system complete, ready for nationwide marketing
Apr., 1973 MDC launches Lexis as publicly available service; headquarters remains in Dayton, Oh
Apr., 1973 Ohio Secretary of State approves OBAR for current legislation subscription
1974 Filing fee Am.S.B. 214 bill passed 110th Ohio G.A.- helps courts defray computer research costs
1981 End of OBAR and Mead Data Central's contractual relationship & royalty payments (1971-1981)
July, 1983 Final OBAR trustee meeting?
1985 Asman continues promoting LEXIS, but OBAR is inactive & bonds have zero value
Nov., 1986 Nov. 1986: Ohio State Bar Foundation ends OBAR subsidy