Milestone-Proposal:First Technical Meeting of AIEE 1884
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Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution) Yes
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes
Was it of at least regional importance? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
Title of the proposed milestone:
First Technical Meeting of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, 1884
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
As part of the landmark International Electrical Exhibition organized by the Franklin Institute and held in Philadelphia in the autumn of 1884, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (the predecessor of IEEE) held its first formal technical conference on electrical engineering on 7-8 October 1884. It was attended by several U.S. and sixteen foreign scientists and electrical engineers. This technical meeting is historically significant for being the first formal technical conference on electrical engineering held in the United States.
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public
Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.
Franklin Institute, Philadelphia
Are the original buildings extant?
Yes, but the original building the meeting was held in is currently the Atwater Kent Museum, which does not allow plaques to be affixed to the building
Details of the plaque mounting:
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
The Franklin Institute
A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:
A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?
As part of the landmark International Electrical Exhibition organized by the Franklin Institute and held in Philadelphia in the Fall of 1884, a technical conference was organized by the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, attended by several native and sixteen foreign scientists and electrical engineers. This technical meeting is historically significant for being the first formal technical conference on electrical engineering held in the United States. The format and topics discussed in this conference served as a precursor for AIEE's future technical meetings. Moreover this meeting went on to being an annual fixture in AIEE's calendar. More importantly it resembled later conferences in many important respects thus setting the format for them; members of the AlEE delivered papers on a variety of electrical engineering topics and followed by a discussion on the papers. The topics presented encompassed both theoretical and practical interests as witnessed by the first paper read by Edwin J. Houston titled "Some Notes on Incandescent Lamps" which is of the former kind while the second paper read by W. M. Chandler on "Underground Wires" was directly aimed at the practical interests of the engineers. The presented papers also went on to appear in the society's first Transactions to be published early in 1885. The formation of AIEE ushered in the age of the professional engineer. The first AIEE president, Norvin Green, was the president of Western Union; the six vice presidents included Thomas Edison, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, MIT physics professor Charles Cross, two veteran telegraphers – George Hamilton and Franklin Pope, and an employee of equipment manufacturer Western Electric. Within a decade of its founding, AIEE had become the technical society for the electrical engineer. It was also an important developer of national and international standards. Beginning within a year of its founding by supporting wire gauge standards developed elsewhere; by the late 1890s, AIEE had turned to developing its own standards for electrical apparatus, and in 1898 issued the first report of its committee on standardization. Promulgation of standards became an ongoing activity. AIEE was one of the predecessor bodies of IEEE, presently the largest professional society in the world with 400,000 members.
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.
A. Michal McMahon, The Making of a Profession: A Century of Electrical Engineering in America, 1984, IEEE Press, pp 1-4
John D. Ryder and Donald G. Fink, Engineers and Electrons, 1984, IEEE Press, pp 33-35
Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Vol 1, 1884
Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.