• About the Society
  • SPIE Europe
    Leadership and Governance
    Advancing the Laser
    Officers & Directors
  • SPIE Altruism
  • International Day of Light
  • Fellows and Senior Members
  • Awards Programs
  • Press Room
  • Public Policy
  • Related Organizations
  • Jobs at SPIE
  • Diversity
Print PageEmail Page

History of the Society

SPIE TIMELINE: 1955-Present

2016 - 

2015 - The United Nations Declares 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies (IYL). As a Founding Partner of IYL, SPIE leadership served on the Steering Committee, created the event logo, published "Magic of Light" posters, and held a worldwide IYL photography contest. Photonics West and the BiOS conference and exhibition attracted a record-breaking 21,000 attendees. SPIE named 58 new fellows to the Society, surpassing 1,000 in total and increased general membership to 18,500. Tunable supercontinuum lasers, 3D-printed optics, and scanners for bacteria detection were among the nine photonics innovations to receive a 2015 Prism Award for Photonics Innovation. SPIE provided $5.2 million in support of education, outreach, and advocacy programs. A new optical method promising faster, more accurate diagnosis of breast cancer is reported in a new article in the SPIE Journal of Biomedical Optics.  SPIE joins scores of organizations and leaders in an urgent call to action for stronger federal policies and investment for research and development as part of the 'American Innovation Imperative.' Karen Egiazarian named editor of Journal of Electronic Imaging.

- Seventy-six new SPIE Society Fellows from eighteen countries and five continents are named. Ali Adibi is named editor-in-chief of SPIE Journal of Nanophotonics. SPIE grants a $100,000 scholarship to the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences FoTO graduate program. Recipients for 2014 Prism Awards range from breakthrough lithography researchers to spectroscopic experimenters and laser engineers. Photonics West attendance grows to 21,360. Winners of the SPIE Startup Challenge include Robert McLaughlin of Univ. Western Australia, Nicholas Durr of MIT, and Amos Danielli of MagBiosense for their work on OCT probes, an optical aberration detector, and a heart-attack diagnostic device, respectfully. SPIE DSS is reorganized into Sensing Technology and Applications and Defense and Security symposia. SPIE Translational Biophotonics held at Rice University to develop technology to deliver better, faster treatments to patients. Georgia Tech Ph.D. student Ariel Marshall is named Arthur H. Guenther Congressional Fellow. SPIE Journal of Applied Remote Sensing authors describe a laser that detects alcohol in cars. New Journal of Medical Imaging and Journal of Neurophotonics are published. SPIE honors fifty-two new Senior Members. UNESCO International Year of Light Photo Contest is held with available cash prizes and the chance to be featured on the cover of SPIE Professional. Michael Eismann named editor of SPIE Optical Engineering. US photonics industry leaders commit upwards of $30M to support of the President's BRAIN Initiative. SPIE Digital Library continues trend with price freeze for 2015. TSMC's Morris Chang receives SPIE Visionary Award for semiconductor industry leadership. Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems launch creates new space exploration forum

2013 - Prism Awards winning products include a cancer diagnostic tool, a portable device to test for toxins in food and water, and a versatile industrial laser. Photonics West breaks records with nearly 21,000 attendees and more exhibiting companies than ever. Debate on EUV (extreme ultraviolet) technology continues at SPIE Advanced Lithography. SPIE-sponsored volunteers visit Congress to urge support for photonics, and SPIE leaders speak out to support Horizon 2020 in the EU. A new author-choice open access publishing program for SPIE journals launches with strong participation. Photonics-enabled facial recognition and chemical detection technologies advanced at SPIE DSS are utilized by forensic scientists after the Boston Marathon bombing. The National Photonics Initiative is launched, enhancing the community's ability to raise awareness of the technology. SPIE awards $351,000 in scholarships to 139 scholars. The Nanoscience and Engineering track at SPIE Optics + Photonics continues to grow, advancing research into quantum-level systems. SPIE supports enhanced learning opportunities through the ICTP Winter College, biophotonics schools in São Paolo and on Ven Island, the first African Summer School on Optics and Applications to Sustainable Development, and FOCUS Conferences in Osaka and Sydney. Criteria for optics and photonics undergraduate degree programs proposed by an ABET (Applied Science Accreditation Commission) team led by SPIE are approved. The United Nations proclaims 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies.

2012 - SPIE Photonics West breaks records with over 20,000 attendees. SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing moves to a new location in the Baltimore Inner Harbor and adds new technical sessions on comprehensive sensing, cyber sensing, and full-motion video workflows and technologies. SPIE co-sponsors ICTP Winter College on nano-optics and plasmonics. SPIE.tv reaches 100,000 views on YouTube. The SPIE Digital Library is extended to include the earliest published articles. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland) participates in the opening ceremony at SPIE Defense, Security, and Sensing, which draws a record-breaking attendance of over 6,700. SPIE and the Optical Society of Korea renew a cooperative agreement. Proceedings of SPIE rank among the 50 most-used journals in the world. SPIE Fellows Alan Willner (University of Southern California) and Paul McManamon (University of Dayton) co-chair the U.S. National Academies' committee on a new report titled, "Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for our Nation," and present the first public briefing at SPIE Optics and Photonics. SPIE launches new open access program for all journals, beginning in 2013. The addition of 21 new SPIE Student Chapters boosts the total past 200. The SPIE Journal of Photonics for Energy appears in Web of Science and Scopus. SPIE 2013 Immediate Past President Eustace Dereniak is elected for a one-year term as a Member-At-Large on the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP) Board.  

2011 - SPIE launches iPhone/iPad compatable applications: SPIE Field Guide to Geometrical Optics, SPIE Newsroom and SPIE Conferences. SPIE Photonics West sets new attendance record with over 19,300. SPIE appoints Chris Mack editor of the Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS and MOEMS. SPIE Journal of Photonics for Energy publishes for the first time in the SPIE Digital Library. The SPIE Advancing the Laser campaign wins the Gold EXCEL Award from Association Media & Publishing. SPIE wins award from Brand New Awards for design work on PRISM Awards for Photonics Innovation. SPIE journal Optical Engineering celebrates a 50-volume milestone. SPIE Career Center wins repeat recognition for "Top 100" employment site. Laser Focus World Editor-in-Chief Steve Anderson joins SPIE as Industry and Market Strategist. SPIE Student Chapters top 5,000 photonics students in 36 countries worldwide. SPIE and the Japan Society of Applied Physics renew agreement to collaborate in technical conferences, publications and other information exchange. SPIE Fellow and 2011 Immediate Past President Ralph James wins Gordon Battelle Prize. SPIE launches second Blog, Harnessing Light, as open online forum to discuss the U.S. National Academies update of the 1998 study 'Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Engineering for the 21st Century.' SPIE conducted the largest global salary survey of the optics and photonics community representing 93 countries with more than 6,800 responses.

2010 - SPIE 'Advancing the Laser' video series launches anniversary year of the laser. SPIE and IS&T appoint Gaurav Sharma editor of Journal of Electronic Imaging. Photonics West makes successful move to San Francisco. SPIE eBooks launch in the SPIE Digital Library. Charles H. Townes wins Gold Medal of the Society. Advancing the Laser: SPIE launches virtual museum of laser devices. SPIE launches Journal of Photonics for Energy. SPIE Europe assumes ownership of OPTICS.org. SPIE celebrates the 50th anniversary of the laser. SPIE selected as optics and photonics lead for university accreditation program; begins first accreditation cycle as a member of ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). SPIE honors Britton Chance with new biomedical optics award. SPIE commends U.S. Congress votes to continue America COMPETES Act.

2009 - SPIE Board Member (2006-2008) Kristina Johnson nominated to be U.S. Under Secretary of Energy. SPIE launches new e-journal, Journal of Photonics for Energy. SPIE appoints Ron Driggers editor of Optical Engineering and Lihong Wang editor of Journal of Biomedical Optics. Richard Hoover receives the Gold Medal of the Society. Photonics visionary Späth honored at SPIE Europe Optical Metrology congress. SPIE awards $292,000 in scholarships. SPIE celebrates the telescope's 400 year anniversary. SPIE joins in urging more U.S. visa process review and changes. SPIEWorks is named among top web employment sites by Weddle's 2009/10 Guide. SPIE launches online courses in optics and photonics. SPIE and Japan Society of Applied Physics sign collaboration agreement.

2008 - The SPIE Digital Library passes the 250,000-article milestone. SPIE announces the move from San Jose to San Francisco for Photonics West 2010. SPIE discontinues regional chapters and welcomes the launch of new societies from Hong Kong and Poland. Nobel Laureate John C. Mather speaks at SPIE Astronomical Instrumentation in Marseille, France. The SPIE Newsroom wins a 2008 EXCEL Award from the Society of National Association Publications (SNAP). SPIE installs a new 15kW solar electric system on the roof of its Bellingham, WA, headquarters. SPIE joins with Photonics Media to launch the first annual Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation. Taipei holds first-ever SPIE Lithography Asia conference. The first "Senior Members" are announced.

2007 - SPIE retires its DBA (The International Society for Optical Engineering) and determines that SPIE will be the name under which the Society continues to do business, continuing a long history of supporting an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light.

2006 - The SPIE Newsroom online magazine and SPIE Professional member magazine are launched. Two electronic journals, the Journal of Nanophotonics and the Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, are announced. Membership is over 17,000 and SPIE has 91 Student Chapters throughout the world. An all-time record number of 41,000 attended SPIE events. SPIE's APOC (Asia-Pacific Optical Communications) symposium was held for the first time outside of China in Korea, with co-sponsors OSK, KAPID and Gwangju City. And for the first time ever, SPIE sponsored a meeting in India: The Asia-Pacific Remote Sensing Symposium was held in Goa.

2005 - SPIE celebrates its 50th anniversary in San Diego, California in conjunction with the SPIE Optics and Photonics Symposium. The SPIE Digital Library is extended back to 1990 and surpasses 200,000 online papers. SPIE Europe and the SPIE Polish Chapter teamed up on new International Congress on Optics & Optoelectronics in Warsaw, Poland.

2004 - SPIE holds two new events to meet the demands of researchers and engineers: Optics East and Photonics Europe. The Society's largest-ever European astronomy event - Astronomical Telescopes - was held in Glasgow, Scotland, with over 2,000 attendees. SPIE Press introduces the Field Guide Series with four titles: Field Guide to Visual and Ophthalmic Optics; Field Guide to Adaptive Optics; Field Guide to Atmospheric Optics; Field Guide to Geometrical Optics. The SPIE Digital Library includes more than 120,000 technical papers from SPIE Journals and Conference Proceedings, including full coverage from 1998 to the present. The Society provides more than $700,000 in scholarships, grants, and financial support to encourage scientific and technological education. SPIE Membership reaches an all-time high of 16,550 Members.

2003 - SPIE Digital Library is launched, offering 70,000 full-text papers from SPIE Journals and Conference Proceedings. SPIE and OSA secure a $1.7 million NSF grant that will actively involve students, parents, teachers, school districts, and their greater communities in the areas of science and engineering. The SPIE Scholarship Committee awards over $200,000 in scholarships and grants to more than 80 individuals and educational or research institutions worldwide.

2002 - The SPIE Journal of Microlithography, Microfabrication, and Microsystems (JM3) debuts in March. MySPIE offers Authors, Chairs, Committee Members, and other constituents a web-based manuscript submission program to give these audiences better support.

2001 - In January, oemagazine launches. This new Member publication focuses on optics, photonics, and Society happenings. The SPIE European Satellite office opens in Cardiff, United Kingdom, with Karin Burger as Manager.

2000 - SPIE launches Optical Networks Magazine covering the technologies, architectures, services, and applications in the field of optical telecommunications and networking systems. The SPIE Scholarship Committee awards over $220,000 in Scholarships and Grants. SPIE Member Zhores I. Alferov wins the Nobel Prize in Physics for his role in developing semiconductor heterostructures used in high-speed optoelectronics.

1999 - After more than 5 years as Executive Director of SPIE, Jim Pearson resigns. Eugene G. Arthurs is appointed Executive Director. SPIE Membership continues to grow and reaches an all-time high with 14,338 individual members.

1998 - SPIE introduces the first CD-ROM short course at the 1998 Photonics West Event. SPIE Journals become available online. The Society starts the year with over 13,750 Members. Members nominate 21 new Fellows to the Society.

1997 - Photonics West is a huge success with over 10,000 attendees and 415 exhibitors. Membership reaches all-time high with over 13,500 Individual Members and 317 Corporate Members. The number of SPIE Regional Chapters reaches a high of 21 in over 17 different countries. SPIE Journals from 1996 are available for the first time on a single, searchable, readable, and printable CD-Rom. The SPIE Women in Optics Technical Community is formed.

1996 - The Journal of Biomedical Optics is introduced and publishes four quarterly issues. The Photonics Resource Center on the World Wide Web (optics.org) is launched. SPIE and OSA cooperate to lead the formation of the Coalition for Photonics and Optics.

1995 - SPIE celebrates its 40th anniversary. Photonics West debuts in San Jose, California. Co-located with the Photonics West Event is the SPIE/IS&T Electronic Imaging Event. SPIE cosponsors Photomask in Kawasaki City, Japan, with SPIE Japan and BACUS. SPIE and COEMA cosponsor the International Sensors Application and Electronic Components Exhibition in Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.

1994 - SPIE offers its first-ever CD-ROM Proceedings at the Electronic Imaging Symposium. spie.org makes its debut. The Photonics East symposium is inaugurated. SPIE opens a satellite office in Bergen, Norway. Continuing Education Units are offered for short courses at the AeroSense Symposium in Orlando, Florida.

1993 - After 24 years as Executive Director of SPIE, Joe Yaver announces his retirement. Jim Pearson is appointed new Executive Director. SPIE Press publishes The Infrared & Electro-Optical Systems Handbook. A Proceedings milestone is reached when the Society publishes its 2,000th Volume. SPIE cosponsors the first Symposium on Coupling Technology to National Need in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

1992 - SPIE develops its first fully operational Internet site with plans for a complete online services expansion. The quarterly Journal of Electronic Imaging debuts, co-published by SPIE and IS&T.
1991 - Representatives of SPIE and the newly formed European Optical Society (EOS) sign the EUROPTO joint venture agreement, improving international collaboration in organizing optics events in Europe. The SPIE Annual Index of Proceedings Papers, the Society's first such publication, is introduced in May.

1990 - The Society establishes an SPIE Soviet Union Chapter, making it the first United States-based scientific and engineering society to open a chapter in the then-U.S.S.R. SPIE also establishes Chapters in Poland and Hungary. International Headquarters expansion is completed in September.

1989 - OE Reports circulation exceeds 70,000. SPIE boasts 200 Sustaining Members. SPIE publishes its first Tutorial Text. The Harold E. Edgerton Award is given for the first time. Membership reaches 10,000.

1988 - SPIE establishes the SPIE Optical Engineering Press to provide a framework for its special scholarly publications.

1987 - The Society expands its presence in Europe with additional chapters, events, and meetings. An agreement is reached with the European Physical Society and Europtica Services I. C. to cosponsor a series of International Congresses for the next four years.

1986 - Two new symposia are introduced, OE/LASE in Los Angeles and Technical Symposium Southeast in Orlando. The Society celebrates its 30th Anniversary in San Diego, California.

1985 - Optics Education, the first survey of graduate and undergraduate programs in optics and optoelectronics, is published. SPIE and the ANRT-Association Nationale de la Recherchâ Technique, co-organize a three-year European conference series.

1984 - OE Reports is launched to provide monthly news and commentary for the optical engineering community. Membership reaches 5,000. Optical Engineering circulation exceeds 7,000. The total number of Proceedings Volumes distributed since their inception reaches 200,000. SPIE holds more than 70 conferences worldwide.

1983 - The First International Technical Symposium (Geneva, Switzerland) has 1,300 attendees from 26 countries. Due to demand in various technical areas, new Technical Working Groups are formed. The Dennis Gabor Award is established to recognize outstanding inventive accomplishments in optical systems. International Headquarters is officially dedicated in Bellingham, Washington.

1982 - SPIE is appointed International Secretariat for the 15th International Congress on High-Speed Photography and Photonics. SPIE holds five major symposia.

1981 - To reflect its rapidly changing Membership and fast-paced technology, the Society name is officially defined as SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering. The Society celebrates its 25th Anniversary in San Diego, California, with a record 21 technical conferences, 160 instrument displays, and 18 tutorials. SPIE reaches milestones of 4,000 Members and 5,000 exhibitors. Over 10,000 papers are published in SPIE Proceedings and Optical Engineering. Over 150,000 copies of SPIE Proceedings and Journals are distributed.

1980 - Membership reaches 3,000. SPIE Headquarters reaches 30 full-time employees. The Society purchases land in Bellingham, Washington, for future construction of International Headquarters. The number of technical papers doubles in the SPIE Journal, Optical Engineering.

1979 - Proceedings Volume 200 is published. The SPIE Technology Achievement Award is established to recognize outstanding accomplishments in optical, electro-optical, or photonics engineering technologies. SPIE holds 46 technical conferences. The Society establishes its first European office.

1978 - Educational Fund established to foster educational activities in optical engineering. SPIE holds 36 technical conferences.

1977 - The Gold Medal of the Society Award is established to recognize outstanding engineering or scientific accomplishments in optics, electro-optics, or photographic technologies or applications. The Society Headquarters is moved to Bellingham, Washington. SPIE income reaches $1,000,000. Membership is 2,000. The 100th Proceedings Volume is published.

1976 - SPIE holds 27 technical conferences. SPIE celebrates its 20th Anniversary with Brigadier General George W. Goddard and Rudolf Kingslake being honored guests.

1975 - The Society becomes financially viable with income reaching $500,000. SPIE holds 16 technical conferences. SPIE presents author manuscript kit at all its conferences.

1974 - Rudolf Kingslake Medal and Prize is established for recognition of the most noteworthy paper to appear in Optical Engineering. SPIE holds 10 technical conferences.

1973 - National Headquarters moves from Redondo Beach to Palos Verdes, California. SPIE holds 11 technical conferences.

1972 - The SPIE Journal name changes to Optical Engineering. The 100th Sustaining Member enrolls in SPIE. SPIE holds eight technical conferences.

1971 - Journal name changed to Journal of the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Albert M. Pezzuto Award is established to recognize a currently serving or former national officer or director who has given exceptional service to the Society. SPIE holds six technical conferences.

1970 - Journal name changed to Journal SPIE, and SPIE-GLASS is included in Journal. Tabletop Exhiborama is established as SPIE hallmark at the Fiber Optics meeting in Dallas, Texas. SPIE produces its first meeting in Japan.

1969 - Membership reaches 1,200 and Sustaining Membership reaches 50. SPIE holds five technical conferences. Joseph Yaver is hired as Executive Director.

1968 - Physical Optics Notebook, by Parrent and Thompson, is published.

1967 - Demand for technical conferences continues to grow; SPIE meets demand by offering 4 more technical conferences and supporting Proceedings. SPIE income reaches $50,000.

1966 - President's Award is established to recognize meritorious service of outstanding benefit to the Society. Award is given by the President and the Board of Directors. SPIE holds four technical conferences.

1965 - The SPIE Newsletter name is changed to SPIE-GLASS. The number of national SPIE Chapters reaches 15.

1964 - The Journal is renamed the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers Journal to reflect the Society's formal name change to the "Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers."

1963 - SPIE holds its first technical seminar-type conference and publishes its first official proceedings, on image enhancement.

1962 - The official Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers Journal is launched with an October/November issue.

1961 - Membership in SPIE reaches 1,000. George W. Goddard Award is established to recognize exceptional achievement in optical or photonic instrumentation for aerospace, atmospheric science, or astronomy.

1960 - The SPIE Newsletter publishes its first group of technical papers. The SPIE Sustaining Membership category is created. First Honorary Membership awarded to Lewis Larmore.

1959 - A. J. Carr is hired as first full-time executive secretary. The first photo-instrumentation course is organized through the University of California at Los Angeles.

1958 - Karl Fairbanks Memorial Award established. The third SPIE Symposium marks the first time government agencies cosponsor an SPIE symposium.

1957 - The first SPIE Newsletter is published. The first national technical symposium is produced. Membership in SPIE reaches 200.

1956 - Incorporated as Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers in the State of California. The Society produces its first product display (Exhiborama) with 250 in attendance. First 100 Members.

1955 - On July 1, the Society of Photographic Instrumentation Engineers is founded to specialize in the application of photo-optical instrumentation. The Society's first local technical meeting is held in Los Angeles on August 8.