The AGI has had to address the major problem of equipment and system obsolescence. Since the system was devised in the second half of the 1980s, it has become essential to start updating and enhancing hardware and software, and migrating data. The aim of this update has been to incorporate more open formulas, free from “proprietary” influences and adapted to standards subsequently developed or consolidated. The other participants in the original agreement have worked with the AGI in undertaking these operations.38

Initial Computer Equipment

The following hardware and software was initially installed in the Archivo General de Indias:

  • A 16-megabit-per-second Token-ring local area network with APPC communication protocol for communications support
  • An IBM AS-400 minicomputer with SQL-400 as database and user-management system server
  • PS/2 microcomputers with OS/2 operating system as optical disk servers, controlling Panasonic and IBM disk units
  • PS/2 microcomputers with OS/2 operating system and Dialog Manager and Presentation Manager for user interface as workstations. They control two monitors, one standard VGA (IBM 8513) for text and one high-resolution for image display (IBM 8508 for grayscale or IBM 6091 for color images).
  • Digitization stations with IBM AT microcomputers, DOS operating system, Rank Xerox 7650 flatbed scanners, and IBM or Panasonic optical disk units
  • IBM 4029 laser printers for printing images
  • Stations for digitization of maps and plans consisting of PS/2 model 80s with 16 MB memory, Panasonic (Reflection Systems RF-5010C) optical disk units, and Nikon LS3500 slide scanners

Current Equipment

The system was designed within a “proprietary” framework with some commercial dependence. This has led to revisions of the system to create more open and interchangeable versions. Accordingly, the initial equipment has been changed over time as the system has been updated. The basic changes in equipment have been as follows:

  • Digitization stations with Rank Xerox flatbed scanners have been replaced by others consisting of microcomputers with Pentium processors, Kodak DCS 420 digital cameras, and Hewlett-Packard CD-Writer 4020i disk recording units. Digitization continues at 100 dpi and 16 grayscale with JPEG compression algorithm. The new hardware allows easier and more rapid digitization. This boosts productivity and reduces digitization costs. Moreover, use of the camera instead of the scanner is safer for the original, since there is much less risk of paper deterioration.
  • The AS-400 (database server) and PS/2 equipment are still used but can be replaced today by any PC with a standard Pentium processor. Much of the system now has Windows NT available through ArchiGES and ArchiDOC; the rest of the system is expected to run on Windows NT shortly.
  • The optical disk and printing servers have been replaced by new Pentium processor microcomputers. Similarly, the workstations-originally two-screen PS/2 models-can be replaced today by conventional PCs with Pentium processors and standard monitors.
  • Six WORM to CD-R conversion stations have been added: three converting IBM and three Panasonic disks, with original disk-reading units and Philips CDD 2000 CD-R recording units.
  • Five DAT DDS II tape units have been added.

The Token-ring local area network is still in use, as are the microcomputers with 486 and Pentium processors. The AGI has 40 workstations connected to the network.

Other Current Equipment Possibilities

In standardizing and updating the system, it is possible to use several hardware and software options through ArchiGESand ArchiDOC.

  • Migration of the entire system has begun for use in operating environments other than OS/2. Much of the system is already available in Windows NT, while DB2 for Unix can manage the databases. Full migration of the Information and Reference and Image systems (ArchiDOC) to Windows NT and Windows 95 platforms will be finished by November 1998. For the User Management System (ArchiGES), full migration will be done in the spring of 1999.
  • The system can operate in a standalone workstation or in local area network (Ethernet or Token-ring), with NETBEUI or TCP/IP protocols.
  • The system is supported by the DB2 relational model database and is expected to progress to ODBC standard interface for relational databases.
  • Several flatbed scanner models can be used for digitization (Ricoh, Bell & Howell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Epson), as can the Kodak digital camera (DCS 200, DCS 420, DCS 460), through SCSI interface. Plans call for the incorporation of new digitization devices.
  • Standard compression algorithms have been adopted: JPEG for grayscale images (with selection of compression ratio and loss percentage) and CCITT Group IV for black-and-white.
  • The ISAD(G) archival description standard is used in the information system, with free-text consultation to be incorporated in all fields of the standard.
  • The development of interfaces for Web clients and servers for the Internet is under way.


38 In 1993, during the extension of the initial agreement for the AGI project, IBM España and Informática El Corte Inleés (the principal Spanish company in the field of computers and connected with the Ramón Areces Foundation) decided to establish a new base for the future of the system (continuity, update, enhancement, and diffusion to other archives). Looking to this goal, they signed an agreement to form an association of economic interests officially known as Archivos y Bibliotecas, A.I.E. To date, they have continued the technological development of the system and installed it in about 30 Archives Centers under the trademark ArchiGES (user management system) and ArchiDOC (information and reference and image systems). At the end of 1997, IBM, following a general company strategy toward small business, withdrew. Informática El Corte Inglés continues to maintain and enhance the system.