IEEE Signal Processing Society History
For its 50th anniversary in 1998, the IEEE Signal processing Society worked with the IEEE History Center to prepare a monograph outlining the history of the Society. This is the introduction to the publication, and a link to the full text appears at the bottom of this page.
The IEEE Signal Processing Society is now 50 years old. When it began in 1948 as the Professional Group on Audio of the Institute of Radio Engineers, there was no discipline of signal processing. Over the next decades, as the IRE Professional Group on Audio evolved into the IEEE Signal Processing Society, it helped create the discipline of signal processing, which today is a vital and rapidly growing branch of engineering. The Society history, then, is an important part of the history of signal processing. It is valuable also for members of today's Signal Processing Society. It provides many examples of dedicated and unselfish service to the profession. It describes difficulties that Society leaders faced and overcame. It shows how a professional organization adapted to rapid technological change, to the emergence of quite new technologies, and to changing social, political, and economic conditions. These are worthwhile things to know for today's and tomorrow's leaders of the Society, since the next 50 years are hardly likely to be more settled, and dedication, resourcefulness, and adaptability will certainly be required.
This monograph tells the story of the Signal Processing Society. A companion monograph tells the story of signal-processing technologies over the same 50-year period. Neither could have been written without the help of a great many people giving interviews, providing documentary materials, and reviewing chapter drafts. The members of the Signal Processing Society's Ad-Hoc Committee for the History Project should be thanked by name: David C. Munson, Jr. (Chair), Dan E. Dudgeon, Tariq S. Durrani, Don E. Johnson, and H. Joel Trussell. Most of the surviving Society Presidents contributed: besides Ad-Hoc Committee members Munson, Durrani, and Johnson, this group includes John Ackenhusen, Oliver Angevine, Leo Beranek, John Bouyoucos, Donald Brinkerhoff, Ronald Crochiere, Thomas Crystal, Rex Dixon, Delores Etter, James Flanagan, Cyril Harris, Howard Helms, William Ihde, Reg Kaenel, William Lang, Daniel Martin, Lawrence Rabiner, Charles Rader, Ronald Schafer, and Frank Slaymaker. Of these Beranek, Flanagan, Lang, Rabiner, and Rader contributed oral-history interviews; others who did were Maurice Bellanger, James Cooley, Alfred Fettweis, Ben Gold, Thomas Huang, Fumitada Itakura, Thomas Kailath, James Kaiser, Bede Liu, Sanjit Mitra, Hans Georg Musmann, Alan Oppenheim, Enders Robinson, Manfred Schroeder, Hans Wilhelm Schuessler, Stan White, and Bernard Widrow. A special thanks to Beranek, who made available his unpublished manuscript "History of the beginnings of the Professional Group on Audio", and to Kaiser, who helped to answer what must have seemed to him as countless questions. The professional staff of the Society, headed by Mercy Kowalczyk, gave invaluable assistance. Many others gave informal interviews, answered questions, offered advice, and helped in other ways. I would like to acknowledge also the special assistance given by Michael Geselowitz, Andrew Goldstein, Daniel Katz, David Morton, and Sheila Plotnick, all at the IEEE History Center.
The story is told chronologically. The first chapter tells how the Professional Group on Audio came to be founded, an important story not only for the Society but for all of IEEE in that it was the first of the professional groups of the IRE. Since the IRE structure of professional groups carried over to the IEEE structure of technical societies (following the merger of the IRE and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1963 to form the IEEE), the Signal Processing Society has a claim to the title of the oldest of the IEEE Societies. Each of the other chapters covers one decade, naming Society Presidents, discussing Society publications, conferences, workshops, and other activities, and describing changes in scope, structure, and governance of the organization. An appendix contains lists of Society Presidents, award winners, and editors.