Articles about medical diagnostic decision support (MDDS) systems often begin with a disclaimer such as, "despite many years of research and millions of dollars of expenditures on medical diagnostic systems, none is in widespread use at the present time." While this statement remains true in the sense that no single diagnostic system is in widespread use, it is misleading with regard to the state of the art of these systems. Diagnostic systems, many simple and some complex, are now ubiquitous, and research on MDDS systems is growing. The nature of MDDS systems has diversified over time. The prospects for adoption of large-scale diagnostic systems are better now than ever before, due to enthusiasm for implementation of the electronic medical record in academic, commercial, and primary care settings. Diagnostic decision support systems have become an established component of medical technology. This paper provides a review and a threaded bibliography for some of the important work on MDDS systems over the years from 1954 to 1993.