Conferences Spread the Word about Computing

In the beginning (1960s) there were no classes about computing in schools or colleges. But there were conferences. These began as sessions added to professional meetings for businesses and the data processing industry. Leaders included DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation), IBM (International Business Machines) and Hewlett-Packard. These companies sold computers to school and university business management departments for accounting and academic record keeping. They soon realized that delivering lessons could be a big market too. Their employees and independent consultants belonged to a variety of professional organizations including:
  • ACM
  • ADP
  • IEEE
each of which held annual, regional and international conferences as did the companies themselves. When personal computers came into being in the second half of the 1970s hobby clubs and entrepreneurs began producing conferences oriented specifically toward microcomputer users. Not far behind were schools, educational consortia and offices of education at county, state and federal levels.

This exhibit will highlight several of these early conferences and show how both amateurs and professionals used them to kickstart their learning about computing. The concept of conference as venue for short-term, face-to-face classes is alive and well today among businesses, professional organizations as well as distance education organizations.

Featured Conferences:

Computer Company Conferences:

Professional Association Conferences:

Independent Conferences:

Conferences held by educational organizations:

To be continued...

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