Title: John A. Starkweather Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1965-1985
Collection number: MSS 92-92
Starkweather, John A.
Extent: Number of containers: 1 carton, 2 boxes
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.
Received from Dr. Starkweather, 11/2/92.
Collection is open for research.
[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.