Pioneering system made information affordable
Developed in the 1970s by IDRC, a pioneering software tool is still helping organizations in over 60 countries store, manage, and retrieve information for development today.
Long before personal computers and the Internet, the huge libraries and databases of UN agencies were accessible in digital form using a system called ISIS.
Website for the MINISIS software suite of products
IDRC Digital Library
Search research outputs on MINISIS
Because ISIS ran only on million-dollar mainframe computers, the information was effectively beyond the reach of most developing countries.
Then “minicomputers” came on the market — machines powerful enough to handle ISIS, at about a third of the cost of mainframes. An IDRC team of computer scientists developed an innovative new minicomputer-based system that could manage data directly transferred from ISIS — thus, its name: MINISIS.
“IDRC was a unique environment for development in that they had a program whose goal was to provide information for development,” says Faye Daneliuk, who headed the development team. “The ideas that we incorporated continue to be instrumental in
providing this type of support on any type of computer system.”
Even greater impacts
In 1999 IDRC sold MINISIS to a new Canadian company, MINISIS Inc. It was a condition of sale that MINISIS “would continue its innovative work and would maintain its excellent reputation both in Canada and abroad.”
The new company has been as good as its word.
“We have shown that by giving away more than $3 million in free and discounted solutions worldwide over the past few years,” says the company’s CEO, Christopher Burcsik. “MINISIS technology has made impacts even greater than were seen in the past.”
IDRC's LASTING IMPACTS > BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE