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First-Hand:Recollections of the IRE

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Recollections of the IRE

Submitted by Bradford Bates

I do not remember when I joined the IRE - it was most certainly while I was in college and able to take advantage of a "student rate". A close family friend worked for General Radio Co, was a senior person in the local IRE, and I'm sure that influenced my choice of IRE versus AIEE. When I went to college I planned to be an electrical engineer - when I graduated I was a "computer engineer". While I was in college, computers evolved from huge machines using vacuum tubes for their logic elements, to much smaller machines using transistors as their logic element. And, as they say, the rest is history. They rapidly evolved from a single "batch process" using punched cards (or perforated paper tape) as input and reams of printed output to a machine capable of serving many users at one time. Within a decade we would see the dawn of providing individuals with their own computing power and within the next decade that computing power would grow to greater power than had been in the behemoths of the fifties.

I was a young graduate making my way in industry when the merger of IRE and AIEE was proposed, and consummated. There were those that opposed that merger, but time has shown it to be a wise decision. So much has changed that the classic lines of the disciplines of the IRE and the AIEE are totally blurred into history and now we have multidisciplinary efforts that draw from a wide range of expertise to solve today's problems.