History of Visualization of Biological Macromolecules

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1966 Molecular Model Catalogue

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Before molecular graphics and modeling became affordable and widely available in the 1980s, physical molecular models were the primary tool to model and visualise the structre of biological macromolecules. This 1966 catalogue from the Ealing Corporation is the first to describe the Corey-Pauling-Koltun space-filling models (or CPK models, for short). Based on a design developed by Robert and Linus Pauling at Caltech in the late 1940s and early 1950s, these models were 'Developed by the National Institutes of Health Biophysics and Biophysical chemistry Study Section, Atomic Models Committee' and 'Implemented by the United States National Science Foundation with financial support for the American Society of Biological Chemists'. The CPK models are still available today from Harvard Apparatus. Also featured in this catalogue are the Courtauld Atomic Models and the famous Kendrew Skeletal Atomic Models, an indispensale tool for protein X-ray crystallography.


On the Courtauld Models: Hartley, G. S., and Conmar Robinson. 1952. Atomic Models. Part 1. A New Type of Space Filling Models. Transactions of the Faraday Society 48:847-851.

On the CPK Models: Koltun, Walter L. 1965. Precision Space-Filling Atomic Models Biopolymers 3:665-679

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Max-Planck Institute for the History of Science