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History of SIGAda

Here you’ll find information about the history of SIGAda

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In the beginning, AdaTEC

The "C" in "AdaTEC" stands for "Committee"; AdaTEC was chartered as the TEchnical Committee on Ada under SIGPLAN, so AdaTEC's subunits would be Subcommittees.

Some of our older SIGAda members recall that AdaTEC existed only 3+ years, 1981 to July 1984, when SIGAda was formed. So, the AdaTEC officers served 3 (not 4) years, and hence terms began early (February or March) in the year. And the first elected SIGAda officers served 3 (not 2) years. However, memory fails to answer how Bob Mathis, Teri Payton, and Dave Emory split up those two 3-year terms as Secretary.

Early in SIGAda's formation, the Subcommittee Chairs were members of the Executive Committee. During the first three years of SIGAda, the Editor of Ada Letters was also a voting member of the Executive Committee.

Terms of Early Officers

The first set of SIGAda officers then served 3 years, not two or four, because either (1) we were accepted as a SIG on an in-between-elections year and hence ACM let us go with one 3-year cycle, or (2) SIG elections used to be the same years as ACM officer elections and in 1984-85 they separated them into alternate years, effecting one three-year SIG term.

We are quite positive that AdaTEC had a 3-year lifetime (perhaps 40 months, e.g., February 1981 to June 1984) and the first term of SIGAda officers was 3 years (June 1984 to June 1987). This may be more accurate than what Ada Letters appears to record. Regarding the listed three 2-year Secretary terms for 1981-1986 (which of course actually ended in June 1987), which were probably two 3-year terms, maybe Mathis resigned after a year or two and Teri Payton completed his term.

Also, one other more minor point: The table is technically correct regarding the "Officers," but in 1981 when AdaTEC was formed, there was an anomaly in our bylaws in that there were 4 "subcommittees" and these Subcommittee Chairs shared full voting rights with the officers, the two sets comprising the Executive Committee. ACM allowed us to have 4 voting Subcommittee Chairs as long as that number was smaller than the number of officers mdash; but it is thought that all of the officers and Subcommittee Chairs were appointed in 1981 anyway, or maybe the officers by acclimation at our first meeting in San Diego about March 1981, so those officers were really not any more official than the 4 Subcommittee Chairs.

Only the first 4 Subcommittee chairs were accorded first-class EC voting status, due to ACM's rules. As more subcommittees came into existence within SIGAda, their chairs did not have official votes and were not official EC members but they were always invited to attend EC meetings. One older SIGAda officer recalls that once this actually made a difference in the outcome of a vote, although he does not recall the issue.

Later Officers

Another former officer, seeing Ray Young's name in the list of positions in that table, reminded him of how we owe him a debt of gratitude for forgetting about the money SIGAda had (in French francs) at a Paris bank after the 1985 Ada-Europe meeting. (In those days we co-sponsored the conference, so we had a share of the surplus.) By the time Ray remembered about the money, several years later, the dollar had dropped significantly against the franc, so we got a lot more dollars than if we had withdrawn (and converted) the money immediately. Sometimes procrastination pays off.

Notice that Jerry Mungle served as VCM for only one year and Charlene stepped back into the post to finish his term. Similarly, Ed Colbert stepped back into the post of VCL when Lewis Gray resigned and did not complete his term.

Chris Sparks did serve all 3 years as Vice-Chair, Liaison (VCL). There evidently was a hard time recruiting candidates for VCL during that time in our history. Chris agreed to run but resigned on October 28, 2007. William Glascoe was then appointed VCL on November 20, 2007, and served until June 2009. John McCormick then replaced him and took over the booth storage and shipment.

The History Committee

J.A.N. Lee (then at UMAss Amherst) and Jean Sammett were the first History Subcommittee co-chairs (under AdaTEC). J.A.N. Lee was listed as the Chair in early issues of Ada Letters. Jean captured a lot of the early history of the language and its requirements. Much of the early history of the DOD-1 language movement, renamed "Ada" in late 1979 (confirm?), is well documented in SIGPLAN Notices and the series of language requirements documents culminating in Steelman. However, some of the personal and group experiences were uniquely captured in the early or mid 1980's by that Subcommittee chaired by Jean Sammett. She may have been assisted by an academic (John Knight, from Virginia or one of the Carolinas?).

The History Subcommittee under AdaTEC became the History Committee under SIGAda.

The really unique thing about the History Committee is that it had a defined lifetime (one or two years) of great activity interviewing early movers and shakers in various groups and activities leading up to the first Ada standard, then it shut down and sealed its records for something like 20 or 25 years. We're not exactly sure why it was done that way, but obviously the time is up now. We're also not sure where those records were "stored"; at that university or with Jean herself? Nor do we know if this is old news and they have already been unsealed and evaluated for some kind of usage now. We will try to shed light on this in the near future.

If these records are located and unsealed, they may include contributions to the early history of AdaTEC/SIGAda, and may take us in a more valuable or more interesting direction.

Newsletter Editor

The first newsletter Editor (Mary Van Deusen) may have had an EC vote in the beginning because she was an ACM/SIGPLAN insider who was one of the prime movers in evolving the old Ada Implementers Group plus early users who started attending by 1980 into the organized AdaTEC chartered in 1981. We are not sure when the concept of "Extended Executive Committee" was institutionalized, perhaps with the chartering of SIGAda in 1984, but the Editor has always been a member of the EEC since then — a key contributor without an official vote, just like Committee chairs etc.

Many of the early documents from the DoD-1 effort (Strawman etc.) have been diligently scanned and posted to a website by Mary Van Deusen (first editor of Ada Letters) at

Last Update: 8 August 2016