My journey doing computing history for the IEEE Computer Society

I believe it was a bit before 2000 that Janet Abbate asked me if I had any ARPANET/Internet anecdotes that I might write up for the Anecdotes column of the Annals of the History of Computing. I told her I was could not spare the time then, but a couple of years later Nils Liaaen and I wrote up our memories of the LKF Network in Norway. Janet was no longer the Anecdotes editor and put me in touch with the then editor Anne Fitzpatrick who accepted our anecdote for publication. During the publication process, editor-in-chief Tim Bergin read the paper and asked me if I wanted to submit the LFK piece to the refereeing process for regular articles rather than have the piece published as an unrefereed anecdote. I told Tim I preferred earlier publication as an anecdote, but we remained in occasional email contract from that point on.

As a result of that first Annals anecdote experience, it occurred to me that Bernie Cosell and I had a possible anecdote about the creation of Telnet's negotiated options mechanism. We wrote and submitted this article, and it was accepted for publication.

Somewhere along the line, Tim Bergin asked me if I might be interested in pulling together a special issue of the Annals on computing at BBN. I checked with currnet and prior BBN employees who might be authors for papers about various parts of BBN's computing history and with Ray Nickerson about being co-editor of a special issue. Ray and a sufficient set of authors agreed, and we began work on this special issue for Tim. When Tim's term ended and David Grier became editor-in-chief, our BBN team continued its work on what became two special issues.

Once the special issues on computing at BBN were published (2005 and 2006), David Grier asked me to join the editorial board of the Annals. As a member of board, I mostly participated in the refereeing process.

David noted my efforts on behalf of the Annals to Jeff Yost who took over as Annals editor-in-chief when David's term ended. Jeff appointed me as Anecdotes editor starting in 2008. Then for 2011 Jeff asked me to start an Interviews column after which I would phase out as Anecdotes editor (and I did phase that out by early 2012).

In the meantime, David Grier was moving upward in the Computer Society, and for 2011 he recommended me to president Sorel Reisman as chair of the Society's history committee. I served as chair of the committee in 2011 and was reappointed for 2012 by 2012 president John Walz. I also simultaneously continued my service as Interviews editor for the Annals.

From June through December 2014 I served as acting editor-in-chief of the Annals during a search for a new Editor in Chief, at the request of the Society Magazines VP, Paolo Montuschi.

Dave Walden
update of 2020-06-11