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June 24, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

The IBM Spain Scientific Centre, based in Madrid, is transferring eight million antique Spanish documents and maps to optical disk, IBM reports. The centre is working with funding and support from the Ramon Areces Foundation and Spain’s Ministry of Culture to preserve the handwritten documents which relate to the Spanish exploration of the New World and which otherwise would decay over time. The documents will be placed on an imaging system built around an IBM AS/400 networked to 60 IBM PS/2s. The work is being carried out in Seville, where the documents are housed in a 17th century archive house. As well as preserving the documents, computerisation will also improve readability and make them more widely available. Using the system, historians will be able to zoom in on certain sections of the text and change contrast. More historians around the world will be able to study the documents, more easily and without fear of decay. In 1987, 900 researchers requested more than 73,000 bundles of documents and 5,000 maps. The documents include of rejection letter from the King of Spain to Miguel de Cervantes in response to an application for employment in the Indies Cervantes went off to write Don Quixote instead.

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