Photo: Patent searching circa 1960. Searchers (junior patent attorneys most likely) flip through stacks of paper patents in metal troughs located in the Patent Search Room.
The IP Mall, an online resource center for intellectual property information provided by the Pierce Law Center in Concord, NH, has digitized a fascinating collection of Patent Office Research and Development Reports from the 1950s and 1960s. The reports describe the Patent Office’s early attempts at “mechanizing” or automating patent searching using coding schemes and early “punched card” computers.
Photo source: How to Obtain Information from United States Patents, Washington, DC: U.S. Patent Office, 1964.