First-Hand:Starting IEEE Computer Magazine

Starting IEEE Computer Magazine

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Submitted by Ted Bonn

David Alan Grier's article in the July 2006 issue of Computer and the approacing 40th birthday of the magazine inspired me to refresh the history of the birth of Computer. Back in the 60's there were no magazines in the IEEE. The Transactions were teh only periodicals. They published mainly theoretical research results with a lot of mathematical analyses. They were only interesting to, and accessible by, a small minority of members, and importantly, a small number of potential members. The Transactions were research journals and had that appearance with the name and a list of the papers in monochrome on the cover. There was no publication in IEEE where the results of applied systems or component research or experience with new systems could be shared.

I was Publications Chairman of the Computer Group. (We had no Vice Presidents or Societies at that time) Dick Tanaka was Chairman of the Group and Harry Huskey was Editor of the Transactions on Computers. We decided to start a new publication, in addition to the Transactions, to fill the unmet need.

Prof Huskey was in Los Angeles and then he hired John Kirkley to be the first Editor. Kirkley established the West coast Office to handle the publication.

We decided on several criteria for the new publication:

  1. The articles should be of itnerest to and readible by college graduates working in technical aspects of the computer field. No Ph. D. required.
  2. Articles on applied research and experience with laboratory or operational systems would be welcome.
  3. News of the Computer Group and the rapidly growing business and profession would be published.
  4. Technical accuracy was an absolute requirement.
  5. The magazine would have an attractive cover. Each issue would have a different artist-designed cover, in color, evocative of the theme of the issue or a major article.

Our start was shakey. I had to write the only article in several issues, since there were no contributions. However, contributions started to arrive and we had a going publication. Computer was a success. Ohter societies emulated our approach and now all the major societies in the IEEE have at least one magazine. There are now about 100 magazines in the IEEE. Computer became the publication supplied to all Computer Society members. It continues to serve the members well.