The pace of technological advance in our everyday life seems ever faster—the internet, cell phones, tablets, mp3s, Skyping, email, Tweets, texting, satellite maps, gps, not to mention blogging (!)—these have all emerged in recent memory. In the clinical laboratory, the pace of change has also been swift. In the headlong rush to introduce and implement faster, more efficient and more versatile analyzers it is easy to forget the analyzers that we discard along the way.
The AACC History Division has undertaken a project that will resurrect, albeit in a virtual manner, the analyzers of yesteryear. This is the Clinical Laboratory Analyzer Archive. This virtual collection of analyzers is modeled after similar archives for televisions and computers, and it resides on the AACC History Division web page.Thus far the Archive contains images of about 300 different clinical analyzers. The archive is organized by year of introduction, manufacturer and type of analyzer (e.g., clinical chemistry, hematology, point-of-care, immunoassay, coagulation) and it can be easily searched. The entry for each analyzer contains information about the analyzer, year of introduction, a literature reference and additional information such as a picture of a prototype or a pdf of the Users Manual. We have numerous analyzers from the 1950s and 1960s—do you remember the Technicon AutoAnalyzer I from the 1950s or the DuPont ACA from the 1960s or the Abbott ABA-100 from the 1970s?
By the end of this year my fellow archivists, Peter Wilding and Ed Neren, hope that the Archive will pass the 500-analyzer mark and this is where I need your help. Do you have any images of old analyzers or old pictures that were taken in a laboratory with analyzers in the background or old publications or catalogs of analyzers? If you do then don't throw them away, send them to me! I will be happy to include images of any analyzers that we don't yet have in our Archive.
Another interest of the History Division is to collect old films (movies!) that relate to the clinical laboratory. The Division already has links to a number of films including a link to a film shot in 1932 that depicts in a brief 17 second segment what we believe to be the earliest moving image of a clinical chemist performing an assay in a laboratory (a glucose assay—not a surprise!). It is hard to believe that there are no other films taken in clinical laboratories, in particular clinical chemistry laboratories. Again, this is an area where we are seeking help. If you have or know of any such films or have ideas where to look then please let me know—my email is waiting day or night for your message! (contact me at: Kricka@mail.med.upenn.edu).