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The Epi Info™ Story

1992-2001 - Version 6

1992 Epi Info™, Version 6, had a 600 page manual, many more programming features, improved graphics, exact statistics, extensive examples, a programmable menu system, and a mini reportable disease surveillance system for a state health department.

An Epi Info™, Version 6, questionnaire. Text defines the questions or prompts. Special symbols like ### and <Y> indicate numeric or Yes/No fields for data entry. Text fields are indicated by underline characters, but there are none in this questionnaire.

Photo of Robert Fagan Robert Fagan, systems analyst at CDC, used Epi Info™ to develop reportable disease software eventually used in 42 states and territories in the US.

Analytic results from Version 6 of Epi Info™ include exact confidence limits for the odds ratio...

...and an explanation of the Risk Ratio, as well as the statistics from previous versions. The Fisher Exact test is not displayed here because none of the expected values of the cells is less than 5.

A new program in Version 6 processed data from complex sample designs, such as cluster samples used by WHO in immunization surveys, and stratified cluster samples frequently used in professionally designed surveys.

Photo of Dr. Denis Coulombier Dr. Denis Coulombier contributed two new programs, EpiTable and EpiNut, for statistical processing of tables and nutritional anthropometry, and many programming examples to Version 6. This version and several minor upgrades provided a solid basis for individual public health computing through the decade of the 90s and for worldwide distribution.

Graphs of nutritional values of a population compared with an international reference population in Nutstat.

Photo of Dr. Andy Dean , Juan Carlos Fernández Merino, Dr. Robert Freund, Dr. Pandu Riono, and Dr. Samy Sidki
1993
A conference on “Microcomputers and the Future of Epidemiology“convened 130 public health experts in Atlanta and provided the basis for designing a Windows version of Epi Info™. Dr. Andy Dean on the left poses with translators of Epi Info™ into Spanish (Juan Carlos Fernández Merino), Chinese, French (Dr. Robert Freund), Indonesian (Dr. Pandu Riono), and Arabic (Dr. Samy Sidki).

1994 Internet distribution of Epi Info™ began, making it available to a wide international audience without charge.

“It is a generally accepted rule in the software business that producing a working prototype is only 20% of the cost of making a commercial product.“(from a report of the Working Group on Biomedical Computing, Advisory Committee to the Director, National Institutes of Health, June 3, 1999) Much of the work in making Epi Info™ useful on a range of computers worldwide in the hands of many different kinds of users is in debugging, testing, documenting, obtaining user feedback, and providing technical support to users.

An important feature in Epi Info's™ acceptance is the Epi Info™ Hotline. Two Hotline staff members respond to 20 to 40 inquiries per day by telephone, FAX, and e-mail. The Hotline not only provides support and builds confidence among users, but also is a channel through which problems and suggestions become available to the development team.

Photo of Natalie Huet

Natalie Huet

Top row: Epi Info™ manuals in German, French, English, Spanish, and Italian. Middle row: A needle-stick surveillance system, an Arabic manual, Version 6 in English, Czech and Indonesian manuals. Bottom row: Norwegian, Chinese, Portuguese, and Epi Map manuals. The manual or programs for Epi Info™ for DOS became available in 14 languages.

1996 Greg Fegan transferred the Epi Info™ Worldwide Discussion LISTSERV from Tulane University to CDC which brought about 400 interested Epi Info™ users in touch with each other and with the latest information. Experienced users regularly responded to questions posed by others in the group. Collaboration via e-mail became commonplace, with users or translators in China, South and Central America, Europe, or India.

During the Summer of 1997, an evaluation of Epi Info™ distribution was performed by Braddee Harbage, a student intern, using e-mail and the Internet to contact as many distributors of Epi Info™ as possible. Results included:

  • A minimum estimate of 145,320 copies of Epi Info™ and Epi Map distributed in more than 117 countries
  • 1207 citations in the scientific literature
  • 52 Internet sites providing copies of the Epi Info™ programs, manual, or related materials
  • An estimate that 66% of copies were distributed by Internet

1998 Version 6.04 b-to-c upgrade provided “Year-2000 Compatibility“for the DOS version of Epi Info™ by strengthening the 4-digit year features and providing a utility for upgrading previously created data files.

2001 Fast processors disclosed a bug in the original Turbo Pascal software. The programs were recompiled with a patched version, and are now available as Version 6.04d, consolidated on 3 diskettes. It is important to download and install the new version for use on any machine with modern processing speeds (more than about 400 mhz).

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