For First Time Contributors

Are you new to the site and eager to begin contributing to the Global History Network (GHN)? The First-Time Contributor article contains step by step instructions for everything from login to completion of your first article. Please click the above link, and then return to this page for more detailed information.

About the ETHW

The GHN is a wiki for the historical documentation, analysis, and explanation of the history of electrical, electronic, and computer technologies developed by the IEEE History Center as well as IEEE members and professional historians. For more information about the Global History Network and its mission, please see the about page.

Usernames and Logging On

While readers can visit the IEEE site as a guest, IEEE members who want to more actively participate in the GHN should log in. The login box is found in the right hand navigation bar, and at the bottom of every page. IEEE Members and invited guests are welcome to create accounts and join the Global History Network. To request an account, go to the account creation page. IEEE Members will have their accounts approved within one business day, and non-members will have their application reviewed and decided upon in five business days.

Navigating the Site


If you are looking for something in particular, using the Search bar is the easiest and quickest way to access the GHN's content. The GHN's search engine is powered by SphinxSearch, a light weight, open-source MediaWiki extension. The search engine performs an exact match query on all pages across the GHN and returns based on the most relevant. Pages with the search term in the title are deemed the most relevant; for example, if a user searches for "Transistor", it will return all pages with the word "Transistor" in the title.

Wildcard searches are possible using the asterisk character. A search for "Transis*" will return both "Transistor" and "Transistors". Searching for "*tor" will return both "Transistor" and "Capacitor".

Browsing by Content Type

The GHN differs from many other Wikis in that it houses content other than 3rd person articles. The top navigation bar provides access into these different content types:

  • IEEE STARS is is an online compendium of invited, peer-reviewed articles on the history of major developments in electrical and computer science and technology. Although written for a general audience, these articles are meant to provide authoritative information, valuable in itself, but also useful as starting points for further investigations. STARS is an open-ended project, with new contributions added as they become available.
  • Topic articles are encyclopedia-style articles which can be modified by any user who is logged in. These kind of articles have a specific focus on a certain subject, such as a biography, the history of a certain technology, or an IEEE section’s history.
  • First Hand Histories are biographical accounts written by engineers. The IEEE History Center actively encourages IEEE Members to submit their experiences through the Global History Network as First Hand Histories.
  • IEEE Milestones honors significant technical achievements in areas associated with IEEE. Milestones are proposed, nominated, and sponsored by an IEEE Organizational Unit. After recommendation by the IEEE History Committee and approval by the IEEE Board of Directors, a bronze plaque commemorating the achievement is placed at an appropriate site with an accompanying dedication ceremony.
  • Oral Histories are transcripts of detailed interviews with prominent engineers and scientists. IEEE has been conducting, recording, and transcribing oral histories with significant individuals in its fields of interest since the late 1960s. To date, IEEE has completed over 500 of these, and has posted them here on the ETHW. Many of our Oral History interviews contain brief embedded sound clips which you can listen to.
  • Archives is a collection of scanned documents and multimedia items from the IEEE Archives and other IEEE Organizational Units.
  • Education is a portal where teachers can view and submit lesson plans related to the history of technology. The Education Portal on the GHN has been created specifically for pre-university social studies educators who teach grades 7 - 12.

Each content landing page will provide an opportunity to browse its content type, as well as give opportunities for you to contribute content.

Browsing by Subject

Every page on the Global History Network is categorized by a thesaurus of approximately 1500 terms. It is a three tier tree, and has twenty different upper level categories, of which all have approximately 20 subcategories, and many of those subcategories also have approximately 10-15 subcategories of their own.

These categories provide for a list of all subcategories, as well as all pages and images which have been tagged.

Browsing with the Innovation Map

The innovation map is a way to browse by geographical location. The map displays significant locations in the history of electrical engineering. All of the approved Milestones are displayed on the innovation map.

Using the navigation panel in the top left of the screen, you can zoom in and out on the map. Clicking on the directional arrows will navigate the central point of the map in that direction. The map can also be moved by holding down the left mouse button and dragging the mouse in the desired direction. Some locations, such as sparsely populated areas or oceans, cannot be zoomed in fully.

The locations of the milestones are indicated by an orange popup which will display more information when clicked upon. Clicking on the title of the milestone in the resulting white popup box, in this case the link "Milestones: Thomas Alva Edison Historic Site at Menlo Park, 1876", will navigate to the article for that particular milestone.

Browsing with the Timeline

The timeline is a way to browse the GHN by time periods. Significant events in electrical history have been broken up into eight categories and are laid out from 1575 to the present. Mousing over each dot will give a brief description of the event, and will link to that event's article on the Global History Network.


Why Edit?

The GHN is built from contributions made by IEEE members and other experts in the history of technology. The wiki interface is one of the site's most powerful strengths and allows readers like you to add your knowledge to the GHN where appropriate. Any contribution you make, no matter how big or small, helps to maintain the historical record by preserving your knowledge.

Quite a few people get started editing because they are reading an article and they notice an omission, a factual error, or a typo. If you find yourself in this situation and know how to make edits and changes, go ahead and do so. If your change is more than minor, please include references if you have them. Either primary or secondary sources are acceptable.

However, there may also be times when it would be better to create a new topic article than edit an existing article. You might consider creating a new topic article if you have significant amounts of material to add to an existing article or if you feel a tangent in the article deserves further exploration. Articles which provide for analysis or original research are welcome on the GHN.

How to Edit

After logging in, the first step in editing any page is clicking on the edit tab. The edit tab is in a blue box with white text, right above the article. A new page will load and "Edit" will now be highlighted in white. The edit page consists of an edit window with the existing text, categorization drop-down menus, an edit summary text box, and 3 buttons labeled "Save page," "Show preview," and "Show changes." The features of the WYSIWYG editor are described above. As you enter changes, save your page using the "Save page" button often!

See the Wikitext Formatting and Style Guide for a guide to using the Wikitext markup language.

Summary Text Box

If you edit a pre-existing article it is courteous to leave a summary of the changes that you make in this box. Put a check mark in the "This is a minor edit" box, if you are only making a small change, such as correcting a typo.


Contributors are expected to follow the copyright policies of this site. For further information on our policies, please see the Intellectual Property Issues section of the GHN Policies.

Only registered users can create a new page, so be sure that you are logged in before beginning to submit a new article.

If you are interested in contributing, or need help on how to contribute please see the help page on Contributing an Article.

Renaming Pages

Because the articles in the GHN use many internal links, pages cannot be renamed in the same way that you rename files on your computer. Only administrators have the ability to move pages. If your page has a typo in the title, do not resubmit it under a different title. Instead, contact the administrator at and ask to have your page renamed.

Discussion threads

Every article in the IEEE GHN allows for discussion threads. The purpose of the discussion threads is to provide a space where all members of IEEE can share their comments on the article. The comments can range from simple editorial suggestions to substantive suggestions regarding an article's content.

The IEEE GHN uses LiquidThreads for its discussion features, which allows for the discussions to be displayed as common threads. As a result, organized discussions can evolve around many specific issues. Everyone, including people who are not IEEE members, is also free to respond to anyone's comments. To start a discussion thread or participate in an existing one, just click on the "Discussion" tab. Comments can be posted without a username, but please keep all anonymous comments appropriate.

Account settings

The account settings panel is accessible from any of the landing pages, including the home page. It is located in the upper right hand corner under the sign in box. These settings allow you to modify the pages that control your communication with other users, your preferences, your watchlist, and provide a way for you to monitoring your contributions to the Global History Network.