History Activities


GHN became part of ETHW

The absorption of the IEEE’s Global History Network (GHN) into the Engineering Technology History Wiki (ETHW) http://ethw.org broadened the coverage but made finding some of the IEEE-relevant material (especially the pages and procedures related to History Milestone Proposals) more difficult. The eight other organisations in ETHW are mostly far more ‘USA centred’ than IEEE, half of them having “American” as part of their title. Their presence therefore unfortunately makes ETHW look much more of a USA operation than was the case with the GHN. It is clear that despite some failings in that respect, IEEE has a long tradition going right back to the early days of IRE of aiming to be a transnational organization with a worldwide membership all having equal rights and involvement in governance and elections.

Clearly any organisation with a name commencing with ‘American …….’ cannot be expected to have credibility as a transnational organisation with equivalent status of members in all countries.

Tony Davies, 2017 Aug 17th

History of IEEE Sections and of Region 8

IEEE History

As part of the IEEE Jubilee Year, Sections in Region 8 were encouraged to create their Section Histories and make these available.  Some Sections have produced detailed histories while some have done very little.

To ensure the log-term preservation of these Section Histories, they should generally be hosted on the IEEE Global History Network (GHN) website, now a part of ETHW.ORG, which makes them available to all.

In addition to Section Histories, there has been a project (still underway) to record Oral Histories of past Region 8 Directors, and to put the text transcripts of these on the GHN website.  The audio recordings are preserved and access may be requested from the IEEE History Center staff.

History Milestones in R8

Technology History

Region 8 has been the location of many important engineering and scientific achievements and inventions in the subject-fields and areas of interest of IEEE.

These may be recognised by IEEE History Milestones, which take the form of a bronze plaque in a publicly accessible location at or near where the achievement or invention took place.  The installed Milestones can be found from an interactive map and a searchable list in the Global History Network (GHN) website.

The submission of proposals for more Milestones in the Sections of Region 8 is  encouraged:  from the date of submitting an initial proposal to the installation ceremony in successful cases typically takes at least two years, because of the need to evaluate the proposal, which is done by the IEEE History Committee with the collaboration of the IEEE History Center.  Final approval is given by the IEEE Board of Directors.   The cost of a Milestone Plaque is normally borne by the Section, although sponsorship is often possible.

Examples of possible topics for future Historic Milestones in Region 8

Hungary Section:  (A)  Budapest ‘Metro no 1’.  The first electrical underground metro train in continental Europe.  (B)  Electrical Energy meter for alternating current:   measuring kilowatt-hours.   Ottó Bláthy, in 1889.   (C) Invention of toroidal transformer and transformer distribution system for electrical supply.   Zipernowsky, Déri and Bláthy, 1878.  (D) Electrical Locomotive traction system with 3-phase rotating transformer, about 1894,  used later in 1930 using a single phase alternating current supply converted to three-phase.  Kalman Kando.

Benelux Section:    In 1924 Willem Einthoven was awarded the Nobel Prize for his important contributions to society, including the development of the first cardiograph (somewhere between 1893 and 1906) in the Netherlands.

France Section: Invention of Pulse Code Modulation by Alec Reeves in Paris, 1938.

UK and Ireland Section:  (B) 1901 invention of vacuum cleaner by Hubert Cecil Booth in London.  (C) 1970s invention of CT scanner by Godfrey Hounsfield (later received Nobel Prize for this). (D) Leo Computer – first use of digital computer for commercial data processing, by Lyons company at their premises at Cadby Hall in west London.   Site no longer exists. (E) Dolby method for sound recording and reproduction, which made the Compact Cassette feasible for music recording (F) Harrison’s clock.

There are,  of course, many more examples of possible Historic Milestones in other Sections of Region 8.

There could be History Milestones for Euler’s invention of Graph Theory, and for Kirchhoff’s Laws, both of which had a huge impact on many topics within the scope of IEEE.   The location in this case is clear:  the town of Königsberg – now Kaliningrad.  A complication is that at the time, it was part of Germany and now is part of Russia – so whose Milestones would they be?

Tony Davies,   History Activities Coordination, 25 Jan 2015, updated 19 Feb 2017

[tab: Assessment of Milestone Proposals]

Assessment of Milestone Proposals

When a Milestone Proposal is submitted, it will be seen on the Global History Network, and ANY IEEE Member may made comments via the Discussion Tab, if they have login-access to the Global History Network.  To get this access, see the Home Page, on the right hand side, where the Login process is explained.  Normally, any IEEE member may obtain login-access, which gives the permission to edit material, enter new material, etc.   Without login-access, you have only read-access and not write-access.

The assessment of Milestones is important and relies on the input of knowledgeable people, to improve the quality of the proposal, and to draw attention to errors and inaccurate claims.

R8 Committee members and all other IEEE members in Region 8 are encouraged to look at the Milestone Proposals in progress and to make suggestions and comments to assist the IEEE History Committee in reaching a good decision about each one.

Tony Davies,

R8 History Activities Coordination

UK & Republic of Ireland Section (now UK and Ireland Section, from 2014).

2013 September 2nd