IEEE CS History: The 1980s

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The 1980s saw the birth and proliferation of the first personal computers, including the IBM PS/1 and PS2 and the Macintosh. The MIDI and CD-ROM were also developed during this decade.

Within the Computer Society, the growth of the seventies continued in every function, but with new dimensions and changing emphasis. This was the decade of new magazines, major standards activities, new education initiatives, international services, and a significant growth and refinement of staff services and facilities. There were also changes in the volunteer structure.

In 1982, major committees were reorganized as boards each headed by a vice president. Starting from 1984, the election of the president and the 1st and 2nd vice presidents were made competitive in that the nomination committee was required to place at least two candidates for each of the positions. The office of the president became a de facto full time job. To attract people to make the commitment, the society changed its term of the presidency to one year (from two) in 1987. In 1985, the executive committee was established. In 1989, the BOG was expanded to 21 members who served staggered three-year terms.

Within the society, the breadth of the profession and member interest in the more tutorial-oriented materials published in Computer prompted the creation of similar magazines in specialty areas. The society introduced IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications in January 1981, IEEE Micro in February 1981, both IEEE Design & Test and IEEE Software in February 1984, and IEEE Expert in the spring of 1986. IEEE Transactions on Knowledge & Database Engineering was introduced in September 1989.

The number of technical committees continued to grow, mirroring the diversity in the computer industry. Fifteen new TCs brought the total to 33 by the end of the decade. These committees were the primary sources of conferences and meetings. The society sponsored and cosponsored more than 50 conferences annually and cooperated, without financial involvement, with other organizations in dozens more.

The technical committees also began to support standards activities in a major way. The results were remarkable. At the end of the decade, 56 standards had been approved and 125 working groups were under way. These projects involved well over 5,000 people. The expansion of computer hardware standards and the software engineering standards resulted in the Society organization change to promote the standards committee to a separate board - Standards Activities Board (SAB) in 1985.

The Computer Group staff operations had begun in the garages and basements of its first publisher and executive secretary. In early 1980 the West Coast publishing operation moved into its newly purchased building, and in 1985 the space was doubled with the purchase of the adjoining building. Also in 1985, the society purchased its current headquarters building in Washington, D.C., and extended its staff support overseas by opening an office in Brussels. The Brussels office was expanded in 1987. In 1988, an office was opened in Tokyo. These offices represent a major step in serving the society internationally.

The Board of Governors is expanded to 21 members who serve staggered three-year terms. IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems begins publication.

IEEE Transactions on Knowledge & Database Engineering is introduced and IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis & Machine Intelligence moves from bimonthly to monthly publication. An office is opened in Tokyo to help support international growth.

The president's term is changed from two years to one.

Members begin receiving email addresses as a benefit of membership. IEEE Expert is launched.

The Society purchases its Washington, DC, headquarters building and an adjoining building in Los Alamitos and opens an office in Brussels. The Executive Committee is formed to oversee operations and act for the Board of Governors in between meetings.

IEEE Design & Test and IEEE Software are launched.

Volunteer committees are reorganized as boards, each headed by a vice president. The society's first executive director is hired.

IEEE Computer Graphics & Applications and IEEE Micro are launched.