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History Committee FY 2007

For the Period: July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2007

Submitted by Richard Snodgrass and David S. Wise, co-chairs


1.1 Members

Richard Snodgrass (Co-Chair) (Joined October 2003) David S. Wise (Co-Chair) (Joined October 2003) William Aspray (Joined December 2003) Mary Hall, SGB Liaison (Joined January 2005) Carol Hutchins, Pubs Board Liaison (Joined February 2005) Len Shustek (Joined May 2005) Michael S. Mahoney (Joined December 2003) Patricia Ryan, ACM HQ Representative (Joined December 2003)


Rosemary McGuinness, ACM staff contact for logistics (Joined January 2005) Jesse Tadlock, Webmaster (Joined November 2006) Monique Chang, ACM staff contact for logistics (Joined December 2003)

1.2 Current Charter

The History Committee fosters collection, preservation, and interpretation of the history of the ACM and its role in the development of computing. To this end, the committee provides guidance within the Association and carries out activities independently and in collaboration with other groups.

1.3 Subcommittees

While the History Committee includes liaisons to the SIG Governing Board and the Publications Board, it does not have any standing subcommittees.

One ad hoc subcommittee, the Archive-Specification subcommittee (chaired by David S. Wise, with members Mary Hall, Carol Hutchins, Mike Mahoney, Pat Ryan, and Rick Snodgrass) came into being in January 2007 and completed its work on July 2, 2007.

1.4 Committee Meetings

October 12, 2006 Conference Call
November 16, 2006 Conference Call
February 22, 2007 Conference Call on Archive by ad-hoc archive subcommittee March 3, 2007 Face-to-Face Meeting, New York City, New York March 29, 2007 Conference Call May 4, 2007 Conference Call on Archive by ad-hoc archive subcommittee

See the web for public minutes and the internal pages (which should be accessible by Council members) for all the details.


The external web pages list completed projects; the internal pages list projects in progress and action items, both in progress and completed.

Title of Project Responsible Starting Status
Person Date
----------------------------- ---------- ------- ------

1. Oral Histories Snodgrass 2005 Ongoing

2. ACM Archive Wise 2005 Ongoing

3. National Museum of Snodgrass June 2006 Ongoing
American History (NMAH)

4. Committee Web Site Snodgrass 2005 Ongoing

5. Turing Award Web Site Wise 2003 Ongoing

6. CACM Special Section Wise 2005 Completed

Identifying, contracting for, and tracking oral histories are a primary task of the History Committee, and account for the bulk of the funds allocated to the committee. For many interviews, we have identified matching funds. We have or are interviewing ACM Presidents through the 1980's and are now interviewing influential early staff members and volunteers.

The following oral histories were completed this fiscal year.

* Harry Huskey [ACM President 1960-62], by Bill Aspray, no honorarium,
on Computer History Museum site.
* Jean Sammet [President 74-76] by Tim Bergin, in the ACM DL, cost split

The following interviews were commissioned during this fiscal year.

* Adele Goldberg [President 1984-86], by Mike Mahoney, cost to the split
with SIGPLAN and Computer History Museum
* Daniel D. McCracken [President 78-80], Peter Denning [President 80-82],
David Brandin [President 82-84], and Paul Abrahams [President 86-88],
by Arthur Norberg
* Peter Naur [Turing Award 2005], by Gerard Alberts, cost to be split with
* Michael Rabin [Turing Award 1976] and Juris Hartmanis [Turing Award 1993],
by Mike Mahoney, cost to be split with SIGACT
* Kelly Gotlieb [influential volunteer], by Mike Williams

For the NMAH project, (a) seventeen interviews were made available on the web for $1800, (b) 14 hours of meetings and interviews were transcribed and made available on the web for $1650 (with SIGMOD paying $600), and (c) three interviews of Ralph Griswold were transcribed and made available on the web for $425 (paid by SIGPLAN). These are not in the ACM DL (as cross-posting is not allowed by the NMAH), but they are freely accessible, are indexed by the ACM DL, and in the Guide (e.g.,
The one task left is possibly transcribing two audio cassettes of a discussion of Whirlwind.

For the ACM Archive project, David Wise spearheaded the ad hoc Archive Specification Subcommittee, which wrote the "Request for Responses to Establish an ACM Archive," which was sent to fifteen potential archives by Pat Ryan on July 9, 2007.

This year Jesse Tadlock, the new webmaster, totally revamped the History Committee web site (, (a) rendering it consistent with the newly instituted ACM style conventions, (b) adding a database-enabled list of ongoing and completed action items, (c) database-enabling the composition of the committee, and (d) adding content. Our goal is to present an example to the other units of ACM of how to maintain historical information about that unit for use by ACM's leadership and by future historians.

The Pubs Staff completed a prototype of the Turing Award web page at

The committee now needs to plan the enhancement of this site, hopefully with incisive help from the respective SIGs.


3.1 Projects to be Completed

We are working on packages of interviews of Turing Award winners, to be financed by interested sponsors where appropriate.

The goal of the archive project is to have an agreement with an archiving institution negotiated by the end of October 2007 with the ACM Archive initiated by the end of calendar 2007.

David Wise edited a well-received section of the sixtieth anniversary issue (May 2007) of CACM. Three SIGs (SIGGRAPH, SIGPLAN and SIGCOMM) contributed retrospective articles highlighting their own history-related activities. Diane Crawford really did a beautiful job with this issue, including a striking cover.

3.2 Active Projects

The committee plans to commission more presidential and volunteer interviews. Turing Awardee interviews will be commissioned only if the costs are split with a SIG or company.

The web site will be enhanced to have more database-driven content.

This year, Mary Hall has actively recruited SIG co-sponsorship of several Turing award winners; see the list above, with several more in the process of being arranged.

We are ramping up interactions with the Pubs Board on several issues, including a retention policy for reviews in ManuscriptCentral.

3.3 New Projects

A proposed project for the coming year is to work with a SIG to develop a SIG history.

3.4 List details of plan to recruit new/younger members.

Mary Hall, herself a younger member, continues to promote the History Committee to the SIG chairs and SIG History Directors, from whom new members of the committee will be drawn.

As the committee has been active for almost four years now, it is time for some fresh faces on the committee. This will be a priority over the next year.


We are excited about the special section of May 2007 CACM introducing our efforts to the ACM community, about the ACM Archive, which will be established this calendar year, and about the growing collection of interviews, which are increasingly being cosponsored by other organizations. Through these efforts, we are assembling a critical mass of source historical material that will enable historians to analyze and organize into a coherent history of ACM and its role in the history of computer science and information technology.

APPENDIX Contact Information

Richard Snodgrass
Department of Computer Science
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721-0077

David S. Wise
Computer Science Department
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405

William Aspray
Professor of Informatics
Indiana University

Mary Hall
Advanced Systems Division
USC Information Sciences Institute
Marina del Rey, CA 90292-6695

Carol Hutchins
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Library
Warren Weaver Hall, 12th Floor
251 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10012

Len Shustek
Chairman, Computer History Museum
1401 N. Shoreline Blvd
Mountain View, CA 94043

Michael S. Mahoney
Program in History of Science
Department of History
Princeton University
303 Dickinson Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544

Patricia Ryan
Deputy Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer
Office of the Deputy Executive Director
2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701
New York, NY 10121-0701

Rosemary McGuinness
Office of Policy and Administration
2 Penn Plaza, Suite 701
New York, NY 10121-0701

Jesse Tadlock
Computer Science / Management Information Systems Major Department of Computer Science
Eller College of Management
University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721-0077

Monique Chang
Human Resources Director
Office of the Deputy Executive Director