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Register of the John A. Starkweather Papers, 1965-1985
MSS 92-92  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Abstract

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: John A. Starkweather Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1965-1985
    Collection number: MSS 92-92
    Creator: Starkweather, John A.
    Extent: Number of containers: 1 carton, 2 boxes
    Repository: University of California, San Francisco. Library. Archives and Special Collections.
    San Francisco, California 94143-0840
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Received from Dr. Starkweather, 11/2/92.


    Collection is open for research.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], John A. Starkweather Papers, MSS 92-92, Archives & Special Collections, UCSF Library & CKM


    Includes correspondence, sample programs of Computest (early version of Pilot), and materials detailing the development of Pilot, various Pilot user manuals.


    John Amsden Starkweather was born on August 30, 1925, in Detroit, Michigan. During World War II, he served in the U. S. Coast Guard and attended the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He obtained his A.B. degree in Art from Yale in 1950, and graduate degrees from Northwestern University (M.A., Experimental Psychology, 1953; Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, 1955). During his Ph.D. candidacy, he was an assistant research psychologist at the University of California San Francisco campus, and a lecturer in psychology at Northwestern. After obtaining his Ph.D., he returned to UCSF's Department of Psychiatry to conduct courses in medical psychology, first as an assistant professor (1955-1961), then associate professor (1961-1966) and later as a full professor (1966-1992) and emeritus professor (1992-). He also has lectured in pharmacology (1956-1962) and in psychology at U. C. Berkeley (1957-1958).
    Dr. Starkweather's teaching activities from 1955 through 1961 centered primarily on clinical skills of diagnostic psychological testing and interviewing. Referrals were also accepted for evaluative consultations for faculty members and students in outpatient clinics of Psychiatry, Medicine, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and inpatient wards of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Medicine. Following a sabbatical leave in 1962, his emphasis of teaching shifted from clinical skills toward consultation about data analysis, research methods and computer usage, involving consultation with faculty and staff, with postgraduate fellows, residents and medical students. It was in this second field of interest that much of Dr. Starkweather's later work took place. From 1965 to 1977 he was the director of UCSF's Office of Information Systems and Computer Center, and from 1967 to 1992 he was first a faculty member and later chairman of the Graduate Group in Medical Information Science.
    Notable among Dr. Starkweather's achievements during this period was the development of two interactive computer programming languages, initially designed for automated examinations and learning exercises: COMPUTEST was developed in the early 1960s, and PILOT (Programmed Inquiry, Learning Or Teaching) in the early 1970s. Of the two systems, PILOT --designed for use on individual desktop microprocessor equipment --has been the most successful. PILOT was chosen by the National Library of Medicine as their primary computer language for the dissemination and interchange of computer-based instructional materials in the health sciences, and for the instruction of medical librarians about how to search the MEDLINE data files; a more recent version has been used to develop current instruction about access to toxicology information.