MITSFS Index

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The MITSFS Index to the S-F Magazines, 1951-1965 was a project by Erwin S. Strauss to create a follow-on to Don Day's Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1926-1950 while he was a student at MIT and a member of MITSFS. It made use of the excellent MITSFS library and a number of other MIT students (including Tony Lewis and Mike Ward) worked on it, but it does not seem to have been a formal MITSFS project. The book was 9x11", 210 pages, hardcover.

This seems to have been the first published index to SF produced on a computer, though the unpublished MITSFS Pinkdex was probably earlier.

Black and Bluedex[edit]

Strauss compiled an index to the five major prozines by story title and author. Odd (or even) pages were backed by even (or odd) inverted pages. One way was by title; flip the book and the listing was by author. One listing was in black ink; the other was in blue ink, so it was called "The Black and Blue Dex." To print the mimeo masters, he taped them to the IBM 407 paper, disengaged the ink ribbon and listed the Hollerith cards on the printer. The resulting stencils were then mimeoed.

It was popular, so he decided to enlarge it. Tony Lewis told him he needed a listing of the magazines and he said if Lewis generated one he would include it. This time the line printer output was pasted on oaktag (for 50% reduction) and professionally printed. MIT objected to the use of The MIT SFS part of the title so this had to be blacked out on the cover of the books as they were sold.

About this time Strauss was drafted into the Army. He couldn't pay the printer so they retained the books which would be destroyed if not paid for. NESFA (which was newly formed at the time) raised money by selling bonds which were redeemed as copies were sold and saved the books from destruction. The books (2000 copies!) were delivered to the (small) apartment Strauss shared with Mike Ward and, for want of any other options, became the furniture.

By the end of 1967, Strauss had been drafted and Ward moved to California and the remaining indexes were turned over to NESFA which continued to sell them until the supply ran out in the 1980s.


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