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What is the IEEE Global History Network (GHN)?

The IEEE Global History Network (GHN) is a wiki with content generated only by IEEE members and invited experts. Electrical, electronic, and computer technologies dramatically transformed the world during the 19th and 20th centuries. Today they are the cornerstones of humanity’s material existence, and they will continue to be powerful forces shaping lives in the 21st century. The IEEE Global History Network is one of the world’s premier sites for the documentation, analysis, and explanation of the history of electrical, electronic, and computer technologies; the scientists, engineers and business people who made these technologies happen; and on the history of the organizations to which these men and women belonged.

The IEEE GHN is developed by the IEEE History Center as well as IEEE members and professional historians. It fosters the creation of narratives that not only document the history of engineering practices but also explain when, how, and why these technologies developed as they did. It uses a wiki-based web platform to foster a collaborative online environment that taps into the collective memories, experiences, and knowledge of IEEE’s worldwide membership – the men and women who provide the imagination, creativity, and know-how to sustain progress in electrical, electronic, and computer innovations. In time, this site will serve as a central historical repository of all the achievements, ideas, and first-hand knowledge of IEEE members, societies, councils and technical communities. The IEEE GHN will also provide a central location for all materials related to IEEE’s organizational history.

Although the contributions to this site are restricted to registered users, the IEEE GHN is also dedicated to making the social, economic, political, and technical aspects of the history of technology accessible to all. The general public is invited to explore and learn about the history of the technologies that have shaped and will continue to shape their lives.

What the IEEE GHN Is Not:

The IEEE GHN is not a “how-does-technology-work” site. The IEEE GHN is not an encyclopedia of the history of technology. Although it contains Wikipedia-like “topic articles” that cover general subjects within the broader context of technological history, it also contains a full range of materials that relate to the legacy of engineering, including personal accounts, documents, and multimedia objects. In that sense, it is a combination reference guide, blog, virtual archive, and on-line community.

What is IEEE?

A non-profit organization, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology, with over 400,000 members in more than 160 countries. Comprised of 38 Societies, IEEE’s membership spans every technical facet of electrical, electronic, and computer engineering. IEEE's roots go back 125 years to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) and the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE).

The IEEE name was originally an acronym for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., which described its scope. However, over time the organization's scope of interest has expanded into so many related fields that people simply refer to it by the letters I-E-E-E (pronounced Eye-triple-E). IEEE is a leading authority on cutting-edge sciences and technologies ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power, and consumer electronics among others.


IEEE provides the Global History Network (GHN) in support of its core purpose of fostering technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. This site is intended to be the premier global record for preserving and interpreting the history of technological innovation and making that history available to the public. The wiki-based GHN enables the recording of first-hand experiences by people throughout the world who have developed electrical, electronic, and computer products and services into the globally accessible public record. The GHN will raise the public visibility of the role and historical contributions of IEEE, IEEE members, engineers, and related professionals in enhancing the quality of life and the global environment.

Unlike other on-line encyclopedias that may include technological topics, the IEEE GHN will be solely focused on the history of technology. The IEEE GHN’s content will also be unique. No other wiki site offers the personal accounts of the technical innovators themselves. In other words, this site serves as a living testament to all the important experiences and contributions made by IEEE members and others to technological progress from around the globe. As such, the site will never be complete — it will grow and expand continually. It is the mission of the GHN to be a forum for the community of engineers and innovators, and those who study their work, a networked repository of their memories, knowledge and achievements, a place to share and explore the history of technological innovation.

The Importance of Shared Experiences

The IEEE Global History Network enables IEEE members to record their involvement in technological innovation. Through these First-hand Histories, the GHN invites and encourages IEEE members to share their experiences in developing products and services -- from invention, R&D, design, testing, production and commercialization -- with the world. Ideally these recollections will also include the broader range of experiences that led to members' successes as professionals, including their inspirations, educations, and affiliations. Because of the wiki functionality, the IEEE GHN also enables individuals to contribute their experiences as contributors to a collective First-hand History of a group, such as an R&D lab or design team within a university or corporation.