The Epi Info™ Story ~ 1993-1998
1993 - Conference
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 & HelpLine
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.
1996 - Translations & Global ListServ
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.
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.
1997 - Distribution Evaluation
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
- 1,207 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 - Year 2000 Compatibility
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.