In 1994, Paul Redhead edited a history of AVS which combined four previous accounts of different periods of the AVS existence; it was published as an AVS Monograph (M-15) The foreword from that monograph is given below. 2003 marks the 50th anniversary of AVS and it is appropriate to both update the content of that monograph and to add items which seem relevant to the history of the AVS and the achievements of both the society and its members as we look back over 50 years. There have significant changes in AVS during the past decade, but it continues to be driven mainly by the large and enduring effort of the large number of volunteers among the membership.  

One thing which has changed in the last decade has been the increasing use of the internet for communication. The previous versions of the AVS history were intended to be printed for distribution. As we embarked on this revision, it was necessary to consider that most of the readership will probably access the information via a computer screen, whether it be delivered over the internet or by a CD. This has made it necessary to change the format somewhat but also presented an opportunity to increase the range of the content. Printing and distribution costs were always a consideration in the earlier histories; electronic distribution reduces this cost substantially and thus allows more content.

Because of this, we have tried to include both a wider and more detailed range of records, which may be of use to future members, and some more personal views from the society history, which we hope will be of interest to both old and new members of the society. This seemed particularly appropriate at this time since many of the early members of the society are advancing in years and much of the character of AVS has resulted from their contributions. The earlier histories published in the monograph M-15 have obviously provided the base, to which this additional material has been added. 

At the same time as an electronic history allowed for the inclusion of more material, it was felt that a printed version of the history should also be available. Here, printing costs are a major consideration and not all the detailed information could be included. Yet the printed and electronic versions should obviously have the same core. Thus, the structure of this history; the text is the same for both versions but more detailed information is available in the links from the electronic version. These include greater detail about particular events, histories of divisions and chapters, listing of committees and chairs, etc. The existence of these is indicated in the printed version. Some listings, figures and photographs are of course included in the printed version; they are also linked in the electronic version.  

The arrangement of this account of the history also differs from the earlier versions, which recounted the history by topic, through the past 40 years. In this 50th anniversary version, the history of the whole society is broken into the different eras; namely: 

The rationale for this arrangement is to better link the changes in governance, administration, etc. with the changing nature of the organization. However, the sub-divisions within each era have been maintained so that specific topics can be found more easily. Those who wish to follow one topic, such as publications, throughout the society’s history can read the appropriate sections within each era. 

A history is a record of the events but it is also a basis for the examination of trends within that history and, for the brave, an opportunity to suggest future directions. This is included in Era 5. 

In the spirit of Era 5, much of the historical information is now available through the AVS web site via the links provided throughout this text.  These provide nearly all the information on events, people, chapters, divisions, committees, etc. which have been, and remain, a key part of the Society’s success over the past fifty years. 

In preparing this history, I have received assistance and input from too many people to list here. There are many AVS members who feel a debt of gratitude to the society for both advancing their careers and providing a friendly “family” in which to participate as volunteers. I wish to thank them all for taking the time to provide their personal remembrances of events. The AVS office also provided a huge support in many ways; digging up information from various sources, including the archives, providing me with dates from their personal involvement in events and, finally, in the design and completion of both the printed and electronic versions. 

I also consulted many printed sources including  Board minutes, Transactions, Journals, Newsletters, etc. Some of these are, of course, the same as those given in the Foreword from the 1994 history. Additional archival references are available. 

William D. Westwood

Foreword from 1994 monograph, edited by Paul A. Redhead.

The American Vacuum Society was 40 years old in 1993 and for the occasion Jack Singleton prepared a review of the Society's activities during the preceding decade; this followed the tradition of the three previous historical reviews of the Society written by H. W. Schleuning (covering 1953-1973), John L. Vossen and Nancy Hammond (covering 1973-1983), and Jim M. Lafferty (covering 1956-1983).  In 1994 the History Committee of the American Vacuum Society decided that it was appropriate to combine these historical reviews to cover the lifetime of the Society up to the end of 1994. 

This History of the American Vacuum Society is an amalgamation of the four previous accounts.  The editor has done little more than rearrange the material of the previous authors to eliminate repetition and to maintain continuity.  Minor changes in wording have been occasionally necessary in merging the four previous accounts and updating the information to the end of 1994.  The reader wishing more details is encouraged to refer to the original articles listed below: 

H.W. Schleuning

The first twenty years of the American Vacuum Society,
J. Vac. Sci. Technol. 10,833 (1953).

J.L. Vossen & Nancy Hammond

The American Vacuum Society,
J. Vac. Sci. Technol. 13,1351 (1983).

J.M. Lafferty

History of the American Vacuum Society and the International Union of Vacuum Science. Technique and Application,
J. Vac. Sci. Technol. A2,104 (1984).

J.H. Singleton

The American Vacuum Society at 40,
Vacuum Science and Technology: Pioneers of the 20th Century,
(AIP Press, New York 1993) p. 1