First Computerized Legal Search Service

A LEXIS UBIQ Terminal, possibly from the early 1970’s

April 2, 1973

The first computerized legal search service, LEXIS, launches at a press conference in New York City. The name was coined from the latin word “lex”, meaning law, and the the letters IS for “information service”. Featuring only the full text searches of New York and Ohio state case law at launch, the goal of LEXIS was to allow law firms to access their legal databases directly without the need for an intermediary professional such as a librarian. Legal offices would access Lexis through dedicated terminals, which was an impressive feat since this was well before personal computing had become mainstream. By 1974 Lexis was hosted on an IBM System/370 Model 155 mainframe and had added the entire United States Code. It took until 1980 for LEXIS to complete entering all US federal and state cases. It was not until February of 2020 that the databases were transitioned to Internet cloud hosting and legacy mainframes shut down.