Acting under the directive of the leadership of the 104th Congress to make Federal legislative information freely available to the Internet public, a Library of Congress team brought the THOMAS World Wide Web system online in January 1995, at the inception of the 104th Congress. Searching capabilities in THOMAS were built on the InQuery information retrieval system, developed by the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval based at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
The first database made available was Bill Text, followed shortly by Congressional Record Text, Bill Summary & Status, Hot Bills (no longer maintained), the Congressional Record Index, and the Constitution (now found, along with other historical Congressional documents, under the "Historical Documents" category on the THOMAS home page). Enhancements in the types of legislative data available, as well as in search and display capabilities, have been continuously added.
inspired by Fuzzydave's link to this piece of freeware.