Travel the Digital Timeline

By: Carolyn Rogers

By Carolyn Rogers

Take an interactive, historical orthopaedic adventure
If you’ve descended the escalator from lobby of Moscone North but didn’t notice the Academy’s eye-catching “Digital Timeline” exhibit, you might be a bit too absorbed in your reading.

The Academy Chronicles, created by artist Lawrence M. Romorini, will become a permanent fixture in the lobby of the AAOS headquarters in Rosemont, Ill.

The spectacular Digital Timeline display features eight 56-inch plasma screens positioned end-to-end, spanning 40 feet. Stop by and use the video-game-like controllers to swing through more than 1,500 events that have taken place over the history of orthopaedics.

Comprised of a series of multilayered, interactive online timelines, the Digital Timeline incorporates still images, audio and video clips, and text to dramatically illustrate the history of the orthopaedic specialty. One comprehensive database contains all of the timelines, which can be viewed singly or sorted according to the following 15 topic areas: AAOS history, foot & ankle, general orthopaedics, hand, health policy, hip & knee, industry, military, orthopaedic organizations, pediatrics, shoulder & elbow, specialty societies, spine, sports medicine/arthroscopy, and trauma.

Assembling the Timeline
In recognition of 75 years of orthopaedic achievement, members of the 75th Anniversary Project Team and the Annual Meeting Committee worked diligently to ensure that this anniversary celebration would be one for the record books—literally.

To provide a real “face” to the field of orthopaedics, an ambitious, member-driven effort to collect information, photos, artifacts, interviews, and existing historical documentation was launched in October 2004.

The creation of a content collection Web site (

history)—now called Living History—that could be used to collect, store, and manage key historical, anecdotal, and user-generated information was the first step in the archival process.

Convinced that orthopaedic history is not, and should not be, solely a collection of academic papers and medical treatises, the team sought stories, thoughts on orthopaedic history, personal accounts of seminal events or people, historical artifacts, and photos from physicians, patients, state and specialty societies, orthopaedic nurses, and industry partners. A “Question of the Week” was also disseminated via AAOS Headline News to solicit information, gauge opinions, and encourage dialogue on the site’s discussion threads—the heart of the Web site.

Living History
Since their inception, both the Living History site and the Digital Timeline site have been heavily used. As thousands of stories, artifacts, photos, and “nuggets of knowledge” flowed in, the project team culled historical material, reviewed submissions, and filtered entries. The Living History site remains a forum for the orthopaedic community to post stories and exchange memories in an effort to preserve the orthopaedic legacy.

Thanks to this collaborative effort, the Academy is now able to share the story of orthopaedics, not only through the Digital Timeline, but through a fascinating series of multimedia projects—all premiering at the Annual Meeting.

To view the Digital Timeline online, visit