IEEE History Center Conferences


IEEE History Center Conferences

sym-po-si-um [sim-poh-zee-uhm]

–noun, plural -si-ums, -si-a [-zee-uh]

1. A meeting or conference for discussion of a topic, especially one in which the participants form an audience and make presentations.

2. A collection of writings on a particular topic, as in a magazine.

3. A convivial meeting for drinking, music, and intellectual discussion among the ancient Greeks.

Since 1991 (or 1995 - see below) the IEEE History Committee and the IEEE History Center have sponsored an international conference approximately every other year on some aspect of the history of IEEE technologies.  These unique conferences bring together engineers and historians to discuss topics of mutual interest. They are designed to be small with full participation by all attendees. The conferences are often held in the summer on university campuses, which enables an intimate setting and inexpensive housing. 

Below are the conferences held so far (ones marked with an asterisk were held under special circumstances). In addition, since 2008 the IEEE History Center has served as the technical co-sponsor for other conferences, including HISTELCON and, most recently, "Norbert Wiener in the 21st Century."

2009, IEEE Conference on the History of Technical Societies, 5-7 August 2009, Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Organized in conjunction with IEEE's 125th anniversary, and featuring, in addition to the technical program, an anniversary banquet at the Downtown Club. The proceedings were published by IEEE and are available on IEEE Xplore.

2007, IEEE Conference on the History of Electric Power, 3-5 August 2007, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, NJ, USA

Given contemporary concerns about the state of the power grid within the United States and globally, this was a timely topic. Thirty papers were presented to 62 attendees from ten countries. The proceedings were published by IEEE and are available on IEEE Xplore.

2004, IEEE Conference on the History of Electronics, 28-30 June 2004, Bletchley Park Trust, Bletchley Park, UK.

The profound role electronics have had in shaping the modern world, from the invention of the Fleming diode onward, makes this an important topic of historical study. Forty-eight papers were presented in front of 100 attendees from 20 countries.

2001, IEEE Conference on the History of Telecommunications, 25-27 July 2001, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.

The essential role that telecommunications has had in shaping the modern world made this an important topic of historical study. Thirty-two papers were presented to 50 attendees from eight countries.

The meeting attracted engineers from around the world to discuss archives, oral histories, Milestones, museums, and other historical activities. This conference was held as a satellite of the IEEE Power Engineering Society's (now called Power & Energy Society) Winter Power Conference, and was held in conjunction with the Maui II meeting, sponsored by the IEEE and IEEJ History Committees. Seven papers were presented to nineteen attendees from seven countries.

1999, IEEE Conference on Women & Technology: Historical, Societal & Professional Perspectives, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

The History Center was a co-sponsor for ISTAS '99, the 1999 International Symposium on Technology, with the IEEE Society for the Social Impact of technology. The center ran the history track, in which fifteen papers were presented to 120 attendees from ten countries. A proceedings of the full conference was published by the Society.

1997, IEEE Conference on the History of Computing, June 1997, Williamsburg, VA, USA.

A book edited by Atsushi Akera and Frederick Nebeker resulted from the conference: From 0 to 1: An Authoritative History of Modern Computing (Oxford University Press, 2002).

  • 1995, IEEE-IEEJ Meeting on the History of Electrical Engineering, 7 - 8 December 1995, Maui, HI, USA.

Members and historians of IEEE and the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan met to exchange information on the collection and presentation of the histories of electrical engineering. Papers and presentations were published in Record of the Maui Meeting (November 1996).

1995, IEEE Conference on the History of Engineering, Williamstown, MA, USA.

The first conference to be designated as a regular affair and organized around the principles that were to guide the series. Many consider this to be the first IEEE conference on the history of technology. Twelve papers were presented to 25 attendees from five countries.

  • 1991, Technological Competitiveness in Electrical and Electronics Industries:  Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, 10 - 13 October 1991, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.

Shortly after moving to Rutgers in 1990, the History Center received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to organize this symposium. Thirty-two invited papers were presented to 50 attendees from nine countries.  Seventeen of the papers were subsequently published by IEEE Press in a volume edited by William Aspray: Technological Competitiveness: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on the Electrical, Electronics, and Computer Industries (1993).