IEEE, an association dedicated to advancing innovation and technological excellence for the benefit of humanity, is the world's largest technical professional society. It is designed to serve professionals involved in all aspects of the electrical, electronic and computing fields and related areas of science and technology that are fundamental to modern civilization.
IEEE's roots, however, go back to 1884 when electricity was just beginning to emerge as a major force in society. There was one major established electrical industry, the telegraph, which, beginning in the 1840s, had come to connect the world with a communications system faster than the speed of transportation. A second major area had only barely gotten underway—electric power and light, originating with Thomas Edison's inventions and his pioneering Pearl Street Station in New York.
Over the decades that followed, with IEEE's continued leadership, the societal roles of technologies under its aegis continued to spread across the world and reach into more and more areas of people's lives. The professional groups and technical boards of predecessor institutions evolved into IEEE Societies. By the early 21st Century, IEEE served its members and their interests with 38 societies, 130 journals, transactions and magazines, more than 300 conferences annually and 900 active standards.
Since that time, computers evolved from massive mainframes to desktop appliances to portable devices to every part of the global network, connected first by satellites and then by fiber optics. IEEE's fields of interest expanded well beyond electrical/ electronic engineering and computing, into areas such as micro and nanotechnology, ultrasonics, bioengineering, robotics, electronic materials and many others. Electronics became ubiquitous—from jet cockpits to industrial robots to medical imaging.
As technologies and the industries that developed them increasingly transcended national boundaries, IEEE kept pace, becoming a truly global institution which used the innovations of the practitioners it represented in order to enhance its own excellence in delivering products and services to members, industries, and the public at large. Publications and educational programs were delivered online, as were member services such as renewal and elections. By 2010, IEEE had over 395,000 members in 160 countries. Through its worldwide network of geographical units, publications, web services and conferences, IEEE remains the world's largest technical professional association.