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ACM Expands History Committee to Accommodate New Initiatives

Babbage Institute’s Tom Misa Joins Committee; University of Utah’s Mary Hall Elevated to Chair

The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold

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NEW YORKJanuary 22, 2009 –ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery) has increased its membership of the committee responsible for capturing and preserving the history of computing's critical impact on the way people live and work.  The ACM History Committee has added Tom Misa, Director of the Charles Babbage Institute (CBI), a renowned center for archival collections documenting the history of information technology; and Brent T. Hailpern, a research leader with IBM Research, as liaison to the Governing Board of ACM's 34 Special Interest Groups (SGB).  In addition, Mary Hall, a computer scientist at the University of Utah, has been appointed to chair the committee, effective January 1.  She served previously as SGB Liaison.

The ACM History Committee oversees ACM's collection of its internal records, and the historical use of conference proceedings, research-based journals, magazines, and the personal papers and edited interviews of legendary figures that span the history of computing. Ongoing projects include an extensive oral history program that is recording the voices of leading legends in computer science.  The project's aim is to capture their insights into the profound influence of computer science in driving innovations, ideas, and applications that continue to benefit society. 

These historical records, from the beginnings of the field in the late 1940s, capture the activities of ACM's many Special Interest Groups (SIGs)  that focus on specific areas of computing.  They also track the growth of hundreds of ACM professional and student chapters, which have attracted computing professionals, practitioners, and researchers around the world.  In May 2008, ACM announced that CBI would house this collection at its Center for the History of Information Technology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

CBI's Tom Misa is a historian specializing in the interactions of technology and modern culture. A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Ph.D. from University of Pennsylvania, he taught a range of courses at Illinois Institute of Technology, including computer history, the global economy, technology and culture, business history, industrial culture, technological risk, and history of engineering. He actively participates in the Society for the History of Technology and the international Tensions of Europe network, and has contributed to several collaborative research and book projects, including Leonardo to the Internet published by The Johns Hopkins University Press.

SGB Liaison Brent Hailpern is Director of Programming Models and Tools at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.  He has managed projects and departments in programming languages, software engineering, operating systems, human-computer interaction, and K-12 education.  A Fellow of ACM and IEEE and a past Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (SIGPLAN), he was co-chair of ACM SIGPLAN's History of Programming Languages Conference (HOPL-III), and an associate editor for ACM's Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems (TOPLAS). 

ACM History Committee Chair Mary Hall earned a Ph.D. at Rice University.  She is an associate professor at University of Utah's School of Computing, where she leads the auto-tuning sub-group of the U.S. Department of Energy's Performance Engineering Research Institute and other projects funded by DOE and the U.S. National Science Foundation. Her research focuses on compiler-based automatic performance tuning technology to increase the productivity of application programmers. Their goal is to exploit performance-enhancing features of high-end computer architectures. Hall served previously on the ACM Health of Conferences Committee, and as program chair for ACM's SIGPLAN 2005 conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI), and its 2010 Symposium on Principles and Practice of Parallel Programming (PPOPP).  She has held several organizational roles in the SC conferences on supercomputing co-sponsored by ACM and IEEE, and contributes to outreach programs to encourage the participation of women in computer science.

The ACM collection at CBI benefits from the services of a professional archivist to work in residence as well as a dedicated student support staff.  It will offer an online search function with access to detailed historical and content information.  A permanent online exhibit on the CBI website will feature the collection and offer convenient access for researchers and browsers alike.

The ACM archive project is part of the ACM History Committee's ongoing effort to preserve the collective memory of the computing field's pioneers.  Its aim is to probe the history of ACM and its role in the development of computing, which has created the systems and underlying theoretical foundations that have propelled the information technology industry.  Other projects initiated by the ACM History Committee as well as a roster of committee members may be found at


About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

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