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Options for accessing CD-ROM data

The data on most Census Bureau CD-ROM discs issued between 1990 and 1996 is in dBase III Plus (tm) format.

  1. Use the lookup software on the CD-ROM. The software programs on CD-ROM discs issued between 1990 and 1994 are DOS programs. The software programs on discs issued after 1994 are DOS and/or Windows software programs.

    Capabilities included are:

    • displaying and printing (to a file or printer) a table for an area.

    • copy (in most programs) a table for like areas (all counties in a state, all places in a state, all tracts in a county, etc.) to an output file in several formats.

    • compare or browse (in most programs) a dataitem for like areas.

    • Some programs, like STF3, include a keyword feature to select tables from a large list. Unlimited database querying is not supported. It is necessary to use other software to perform mathematical operations or any other processing like sorting. Also, many extractions (such as multiple tables for different types of areas) may be time consuming with the software on the disc.

  2. Use EXTRACT software

  3. Use a database management program (DBMS) to access the files directly. Some of these programs will require creating a copy of the original data file on your hard drive. The user should be able to or learn how to enter simple interactive commands and/or do some light programming. The user will also need to examine the documentation to become familiar with the database structures. These programs allow you to perform mathematical operations, sorts, queries, extractions and more. For Census of Population and Housing Summary Tape File data on CD-ROM, pay special attention to a chart in the How to Use this File section that contains information on which tables are contained in each database. Programmers can also find this information in TABLES.DBF. Also, Appendix I will have information on the dBASE III indexes that the software uses. For other products, this information will also be in the documentation.

  4. Small files can be processed with a spreadsheet program. These programs usually have a limit of, at most, 16,000 rows.

  5. A combination of some of the above options.


Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Administrative and Customer Services Division | (301) 763-7710 |  Last Revised: February 13, 2013