Achieving the Impossible

Prior to the founding of the TLG project, the creation of a digital library for Greek literature had been considered impossible due to a complete lack of the necessary technological tools. This pioneering project was made possible by the efforts of the visionary classicist David W. Packard, who designed and implemented the hardware and software used to store, process, search, and display texts written using the Greek character set. The procedures and encoding conventions established at that time remain to this day the standard for encoding ancient Greek.

The early TLG system used a Varian 620L minicomputer tied into UCI’s Sigma-7 mainframe. The texts were entered in the so-called Alpha and later Beta Code, a convention that uses Roman characters to represent Greek letters.

In the project’s early years, printed concordances were published in order to give scholars access to TLG data prior to the advent of CD-ROMs as a dissemination medium. When compared with the power of today’s online database, these printouts barely began to reveal the potential of the TLG for enhancing scholarship.