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Murray Turoff: Father of Computer Conferencing
Jan.-March 2012 (vol. 34 no. 1)
pp. 92-98
Ramesh Subramanian, Quinnipiac University

In 1971 Murray Turoff, a computer scientist working in the Office of Emergency Preparedness, Executive Offices of the President of the United States, was tasked with developing an electronic information and communication system to aid the US government's response to emergencies. The resulting Emergency Management Information System and Reference Index (EMISARI), based on a smaller system Turoff created the previous year, is often considered the first computer-mediated, multimachine communications and conferencing system and an early precursor to many of today's chat, messaging, conferencing, and collaboration systems. Turoff's later work with Starr Roxanne Hiltz at the New Jersey Institute of Technology resulted in the development of a next-generation computer-mediated conferencing (CMC) system, the Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES), and the publication of their acclaimed 1978 book The Network Nation.

1. M. Turoff email comm. with R. Subramanian28 Nov. 2011. All unattributed facts in this article can be attributed to the author's personal communication with Turoff.
2. M. Turoff interview by R. Subramanian21 May 2010.
3. R.A. Finkler and M. Turoff, "A Critique of Nike-X Data Processing," tech report, Inst. for Defense Analysis, 1965.
4. E. Thelen, "Proposed Air Defense Artillery Systems,"5 Nov. 1997; http://ed-thelen.orgdigest4.html.
5. J.C. Shaw, "JOSS: A Designer's View of an Experimental On-line Computing System," P-2922, RAND, Aug. 1964.
6. H.A. Linstone and M. Turoff eds., , The Delphi Method: Techniques and Applications, Addison-Wesley, 1975; http://is.njit.edu/pubs/delphibookch1.html .
7. US Nat'l Archives, "Records of the Office of Emergency Preparedness," n.d., http://www.archives.gov/research/guide-fed-records/ groups396.html.
8. H.A. Linstone and M. Turoff, "Delphi: A Brief Look Backward and Forward," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 78, no. 9, 2011, pp. 1712–1719.
9. S.R. Hiltz and M. Turoff, The Network Nation: Human Communication via Computer, Addison-Wesley, 1978 (revised ed., MIT Press, 1993).
10. "Nixon Imposes Wage and Price Controls," The Econ Rev., 15 Aug. 1971; http://www.econreview.com/eventswageprice1971b.htm : "In a move widely applauded by the public and a fair number of (but by no means all) economists, President Nixon imposed wage and price controls. The 90 day freeze was unprecedented in peacetime, but such drastic measures were thought necessary. Inflation had been raging, exceeding 6% briefly in 1970 and persisting above 4% in 1971. By the prevailing historical standards, such inflation rates were thought to be completely intolerable."
11. R.H. Wilcox and R.A. Kupperman, "EMISARI: An On-line Management System in a Dynamic Environment," Proc. 1st Int'l Conf. Computer Comm., 1972, pp. 117–120.
12. H. Rheingold, The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, MIT Press, 2000.
13. M. Turoff, "Information, Value, and the Internal Marketplace," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 27, 1985, pp. 357–373.
14. S.R. Hiltz email comm. with R. Subramanian12 Dec. 2011.
15. "EIES2 Brochure," Computerized Conferencing and Comm. Center, New Jersey Inst. of Technology, n.d.
16. "Third Annual EFF Pioneer Awards," Electronic Frontier Foundation, 1994; https://w2.eff.org/awards/pioneer1994.php .

Index Terms:
history of computing, Murray Turoff, The Network Nation, Starr Roxanne Hiltz, Office of Emergency Preparedness, computer-mediated conferencing, Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES), Emergency Management Information System and Reference Index (EMISARI), computer-based communications, networked communities
Citation:
Ramesh Subramanian, "Murray Turoff: Father of Computer Conferencing," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 92-98, Jan.-March 2012, doi:10.1109/MAHC.2012.12
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