The 1950s and 1960s
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The 1950s

During this decade, Maurice Wilkes created the concept of microprogramming, Grace Hopper developed the first compiler, the EDVAC ran the first production program, IBM launched the 701 Defense Calculator, and the COBOL development language was created.

Although the IEEE Computer Society traces its origins to the 1946 formation of the Subcommittee on Large-Scale Computing Devices (LCD) of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE), it was the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE)’s formation of its Professional Group on Electronic Computers (PGEC) that made it an organization with many elements of the present Computer Society, without the technical and education committees.

Conferences were the most significant early activity, but publications grew rapidly with some 1,800 editorial pages generated during the decade. At the end of the fifties, the PGEC was IRE’s largest professional group. It had 19 chapters across the US and 8,874 members, including 8,129 full members, 679 student members, and 66 affiliates.

1951
The Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) forms its Professional Group on Electronic Computers (PGEC), which grows to 19 chapters and 8,874 members by decade’s end on the strength of its conferences and publications. The Transactions on Electronic Computers is renamed to the IEEE Transactions on Computers, which is the longest-running IEEE journal.

The 1960s

The 1960s was a time of tremendous technological advancement. During this decade, Stanford and Purdue universities established departments of computer science, ASCII became the standard for 7-bit code information exchange, the Basic programming language was developed, Doug Engelbart invented the mouse, and the US Department of Defense commissioned the Arpanet, the precursor to today’s Internet.

The IEEE took a major step in July 1966 with the first issue of the bimonthly Computer Group News, which included group and industry news, applied and tutorial articles, a guide to computer literature, and a repository of computer articles. Repository materials were available to the profession for a nominal charge.

Computer Group News opened the door for many magazines in the society, as well as in IEEE. But it was also significant in another way. With the publication of its own magazine, the Computer Group began employing and managing its own small full-time staff in the Los Angeles area for publications support and other administrative activities. The Computer Group was the first IEEE group to employ its own staff, and it was a major factor in the growth of the society.

In 1968, IEEE Transactions on Computers became a monthly publication. The number of published periodical pages grew to almost 9,700 in the transactions and about 640 in the Computer Group News. Membership grew to 16,862, including 4,200 students and 158 affiliates. The decade closed with 41 chapters.

1962
PGEC forms its first technical committee, covering logic and switching theory.

1963
The AIEE and the IRE merge to become the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

1966
July marks the first issue of the bimonthly Computer Group News and the Computer Group becomes the first IEEE society to hire staff.

1968
IEEE Transactions on Computers becomes a monthly publication. A 20-person administrative committee is added to the governance structure with members serving staggered two-year terms.