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It is not very often that we get the opportunity to celebrate such a milestone as a journal's Centennial anniversary of publication. But this year, we are indeed in the process of publishing Volume 100 of the PROCEEDINGS OF THE IEEE, as well as marking (by the exact date on this issue's cover of May 13th), the 100th anniversary of the constitution and election of first officers of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE), which occurred back in 1912.
Within several months of the institute's founding, two other historical developments took place: the conversion of the three-element audion detector tube (called a “bulb” in those days) into an amplifier and then into an oscillator. These events were the result of the work of IRE charter member Lee de Forest as well as first IRE Vice-President Fritz Lowenstein. Therefore, it is not beyond the realm of reality that we also should be commemorating, to some degree, the 100th anniversary of the dawn of the modern electronics (as well as that of the communications) age! We live in an ever changing world and many of the contributors to this retrospective issue discuss the past evolution of their respective fields, the present state of the technology, as well as some tentative glimpses into their expectations for the future.
This journal has certainly evolved over the 100 years since the first issue was published, and you will find some details on its evolution contained in these pages. For one thing, back in the days of the IRE, every member received a copy of the PROCEEDINGS, while today members of the IEEE are asked to pay a heavily discounted annual subscription fee for an individual subscription. The subscription fee might open the question: Why should I subscribe to the PROCEEDINGS? This question has many answers. For example, several years back in a reader's survey we received what we consider to be a very appropriate and heartfelt answer from a reader: He wrote: “The PROCEEDINGS OF THE IEEE serves as my monthly window on the World that allows me to easily keep abreast of developments and innovations across the IEEE, which many times fall outside of my day to day work experiences as an electrical engineer.” We, who are closely associated with this journal, think of it as a tool for the cross-pollination of ideas within the IEEE from one specialty area to another. Others say that our special issues often serve as mini-textbooks on particular areas of emerging technology that provide that important overview perspective that is necessary to fully appreciate the implications and the ultimate possibilities and applications of a particular new technical innovation. This has been our goal for many years and it will continue to be the objective of our very distinguished Editorial Board and Editorial Office staff as we move forward into the future!
Stated specifically, the goal of the PROCEEDINGS is to address a wide readership and present, in a timely manner, broad overviews of technical subjects and emerging areas. In recent years, emphasis has been upon the publication of special issues dedicated to focused topics. While some individual papers, primarily overviews of specific subjects, are published, special issues are the primary mechanism used. This special issue format permits a topic or an area to be addressed from a comprehensive and diverse perspective, with a number of individual papers that present both broad overviews, as well as specific technical depth and important details. The special issue format has served the community well, and today the PROCEEDINGS ranks as the highest rated general-interest publication in the electrical-engineering field.
My own experience with the PROCEEDINGS began with my joining the IEEE as a student member back in 1971. IEEE offers student members a significant discount on IEEE journal subscriptions and I started subscribing to the PROCEEDINGS. I have been a subscriber ever since. My formal involvement with the PROCEEDINGS began when I was asked to serve on the Editorial Board and I served three terms as a member of the Board from 1998 to 2006. I also had the opportunity to serve as a Guest Editor for a Special Issue on Blue Sky Technologies, which was published in October 2005. Both of these experiences were very rewarding and gave me a strong appreciation of how the PROCEEDINGS is operated and managed. I became Editor-in-Chief in 2007 and am currently in my second term in this position. Overall, my experience with the PROCEEDINGS has been very educational, enjoyable, and a highlight of my professional career.
As we look to the future and to our next 100 years some trends are evident. The PROCEEDINGS has a very strong and well-established base and is very well positioned to cover both traditional topics as well as new and emerging areas. The authors and readers of the PROCEEDINGS are international and represent virtually all areas of the world that have engineers involved in topics within the IEEE fields of interest. The special issue format has worked very well as a venue to address topics in a comprehensive manner and the special issue format will continue. Although print circulation is likely to continue to decline, a trend already in process, electronic publication and downloads from IEEE Xplore will continue to increase. Ultimately, electronic publication and delivery will make the PROCEEDINGS more accessible to a much wider readership. Of course, like everything else, the world of technical publishing is changing. Along this line, there is a move by some toward the concept of “open access” where the costs of publication are carried by the authors, rather than the readers. Experiments in this publication mode are currently in progress, including within IEEE, and the move to open access is likely to grow and might become dominant in the next decade or so. Electronic format also opens the potential for new and novel publication techniques. For example, it is now possible for our journal to accept multimedia, including active multimedia demonstrations, interactive plots, and hot links to supporting material embedded within a publication. It is now possible to have sound and animation included. These techniques are not widely used at the present time, but will find increasing use as they become more widely recognized and utilized. Once the interactive format becomes more popular, new and novel approaches will be developed and employed. In the next few decades, it is likely that the fundamental content of the PROCEEDINGS will be maintained, but the means of delivery will see dramatic change. For example, one can envision the day where papers will be presented to readers by holographic authors using interactive demonstrations and real-time question-and-answer options. Also, the development of portable, wireless devices will make it possible to present increasingly complex material on small and portable platforms. This makes it possible for readers to carry elaborate and comprehensive libraries with them while they work and travel, thereby facilitating ready access to information. Improvements will be made in software for gathering, sorting, analyzing, and storing data. It will also be possible for readers to directly communicate with authors through electronic blogs. The extensive communications exercised by the early authors and readers of the PROCEEDINGS OF THE IRE are likely to be reborn. Overall, much improved transparency will result.
Subject wise, the PROCEEDINGS will continue to address timely topics of the day. Ultimately, this is the main key to success and is the reason for the high ranking enjoyed by the PROCEEDINGS. This will continue through the dedicated efforts of future EICs, Editorial Board members, and professional staff. The next 100 years of the PROCEEDINGS will see changes in delivery methods and content capabilities, but quality content will continue to be delivered to an expanding readership. Our first 100 years have seen tremendous growth and success and this will continue in the next 100 years. The future of the PROCEEDINGS is bright!
This Centennial Special Issue represents a comprehensive sampling of the types of topics that we routinely cover in our journal. We sincerely hope that you will enjoy reading this issue and also that you will consider joining us as a regular reader and perhaps as a future contributor to our journal. There are also many additional exciting events planned during our Centennial Celebration and we hope that you will keep connected with us by visiting our webpage at: www.ieee.org/proceedings.
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