107 Years of Line-Formula Notations (1861-1968)

Thus, within the short period of just seven years after the birth of structural chemistry in 1861, virtually all of the main ideas relating to line-formula descriptions were conceived and published. No basically new practices appeared for some 79 years. Then, within an identically brief period of just seven years (1947-1954), virtually all of the fundamental features of structure-delineating chemical notations appeared in the international chemical literature.

William J. Wiswesser

Apparently, advances in chemical line notations have a history of occurring in clusters. Perhaps the development of InChI will spawn a renaissance in the development and use of line notations. Is there room (or need) for multiple line notation languages, each filling a particular niche, or can a universal line notation ever be developed? Will currently popular line notations such as SMILES and InChI seem as cumbersome in 30 years as Wiswesser Line Notation does today?