History of Chicago ISPI

Interesting Founding Facts about ISPI and Chicago ISPI

More than 100 people showed up for the very first meeting of the Society for Programed and Automated Learning on December 13, 1962 to listen to two speakers, one of which was described as having “sprightly commentary.”

Membership was $15 per year for regular members and $7.50 for students.

The first newsletter was published in January of 1963.  The address of the Society was Society for Programed and Automated Learning, Technology Center, Chicago 16, Illinois.  Zip codes were to be introduced by the U.S. Postal Service later in the year.

The word “Programed” is not misspelled in the first newsletter, although your spell checker will tell you it is.  This was a popular spelling in the 60’s when computers were first becoming widely known and is still a little-used alternate spelling today.  By 1964, the Society had already started using “Programmed” instead.

The National Society for Programmed Instruction had its first identity crisis already by 1964 and asked members to vote to change the name to the Society for Educational and Training Technology.  The word “National” was dropped at the request of some international members.

There were already 13 national chapters and one international chapter in the first part of 1964 but the Society (as well as what would later become the Chicago Chapter of the Society) would struggle for years to grow and stabilize.

The Chicago Chapter was originally known as the Chicago Chapter of the National Society for Programmed Instruction with founding members Al Corbett, Susan Markle, Phil Tiemann, and Eileen Watzulik.

The very first Chicago Chapter member survey to determine what members wanted from their organization was conducted in 1974.

A November 1974 meeting of the Chicago Chapter decided to set member dues at $2 per year.

Sivasailam Thiagarajan ("Thiagi") led his first workshop for the Chicago Chapter in 1975 and was described as “that most excellent and delightful crazy Indian.”

Chicago Chapter meetings in 1976 were held at the Greek Islands and Como Inn restaurants.

Many Chicago Chapter members found themselves in Cook County Jail in 1977.

In June of 1977, Chicago Chapter dues were raised to $10 annually.

A major goal for the 1978 board was to increase membership and meeting attendance.  Not surprisingly, that's still our goal today.

Steve Veach
Past President
Chicago ISPI

A copy of the first newsletter for the Society for Programed and Automated Learning is available here.

A copy of an early newsletter from the National Society for Programmed Instruction dated February 1964 is available here.

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