History of the Audio Engineering Society

The history of the Audio Engineering Society, from its founding in 1948 thru the year 1997, was written by the then-Chair of the AES Historical Committee Donald J Plunkett. It was published in the AES Journal in the 1998 January “Commemorative”  issue, and is now contained in the AES Electronic Library.


We make that history available here by permission of the AES Journal.  It consists of  four parts, with the file sizes as shown below. Note that these PDF files contain an OCR scan (Adobe calls it “Paper Capture”), so you can use the Acrobat “find” to search these files — for instance, for the name of an awardee, etc.

The Society's history has been updated in the online documents shown with the Plunkett papers.

Donald J Plunkett, ” Reminiscences on the Founding and Development of the Society“, from J Audio Eng Soc Vol  46 Nr 1/2,  pp. 5, 6;  1998 Jan/Feb   (3.9 MB)

Donald J Plunkett, ” Officers/Governors/Editors 1949…1998” and 1998…2004,  from J Audio Eng Soc  Vol 46 Nr 1/2, pp. 7…12;  1998 Jan/Feb  (1.1 MB), with an addendum in 2004.

Donald J Plunkett, ” Conventions and Conferences 1949…1997” [number, date, location, and chairman], from J Audio Eng Soc Vol 46 Nr 1/2, pp. 13…16; 1998 Jan/Feb  (1.3 MB)
AES Conventions and Conferences Before 1998  [number, date, and location]
AES Conventions and Conferences  1997 to Present, plus Future  [number, date,  location,  and a link to the convention program]
Convention Reports, 111th to Present, and Conference Reports, 21st to Present (by Convention number, scanned from the Journal)

All Award Recipients, 1949 to Present ,  online list, sortable by Name, Award, or Date
[The online list is an updated and corrected version of Donald J Plunkett, “Audio Engineering Society Awards Recipients and Awards Program” [1949…1997] ,  from J Audio Eng Soc Vol 46 Nr 1/2, pp. 17…26; 1998 Jan/Feb  (2.4 MB)]

All four of the Plunkett papers are Copyright © 1998 Audio Engineering Society.  This material is posted here with permission of the AES. Internal or personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution must be obtained from the Audio Engineering Society: contact Bill McQuaide.


By choosing to view these documents, you agree to all provisions of the copyright laws protecting them.

J. McKnight, Chair, AES Historical Committee
2004-06-28, rev 2004-07-08, rev 2004-07-16, rev 2004-08-02

NOTE: This text is taken directly from the original Historical Committee guidelines — undated, but probably from 1970…1999, when Don Plunkett chaired the committee. Because that  committee was not very active for many years, the current Project Leader should review these guidelines to see if they are still appropriate. In addition, we should make provision for the histories of the European Region, the Latin American Region, and the International Region, which would probably be archived in those respective Regions.

        Jay McKnight, Chair, AES Historical Committee   2001-10-02, minor rev 2006-08-15.


  1.  To organize and maintain an archive relating to the history of the Audio Engineering Society itself. This archive will  be located at the Headquarters Office in the New York City. It is therefore preferable that the Project Leader reside in that area.
      NOTE: Until the material in the archives has been properly compiled in a useful manner, the Project Leader should be a Charter Member of the Society, if possible, or a member familiar with the organization’s early history. When the gaps in the research have been filled and the material organized, the historical material may be kept up to date by a less-experienced member.
  2. To keep a historical record of the statistics, activities, and technical meetings and publications of the Audio Engineering Society, and to store for safekeeping all papers, publications, and written historical material that would contribute to a published history of the Society. At minimum this will comprise annually reviewing the documents at the Headquarters Office, and placing in the historical file the following items:
    • A list of the names of officers, governors, and editors of the Journal.
    • Names of chairs and members of each committee.
    • The Secretary’s Report as of October 31, containing Membership, breakdown of membership by grade, number of  Journal subscribers, Sections in operation with their membership, meeting dates, speakers, and titles of papers presented.
    • Convention reports, with three copies each of the Program, exhibitor lists, awards and recipients, and any other documents prepared for the Convention, such as:
      • A list of the names of Convention Chairs and Committee members.
      • The letterheads, convention logo stickers, and important documents from the work of Convention Committees.
      • Flags, banners, etc
      • Where they were made, sound recordings and filmed or video recordings of the presented papers and workshops.
    • The Editor’s report, with a list of publications and dates, and three copies of each publication.
  3. To update the history from time to time and put into form for publication, either to mark special anniversary years or to be made available for promotional programs or other purposes.



State of the AES Historical Archive , 1999 August. [Author unknown, but  it was probably Don Plunkett, who chaired the Historical Committee from 1972 until 1999, and who compiled and published several articles in the AES Journal about the history of the society. jm]


The state of the file of historical material in 1999 is as follows:
1949: a skimpy outline–no section material
1950: a little better–no information on the title of Section talks
1951: fairly complete
1952: fairly complete
1953: fairly complete
1954: gaps in Section information
1955: lists of Section meetings not complete
1956: not done
1957: started, but incomplete
1958: complete
1959: complete
1960: complete
1961: not done
1962: not done
1963: not done
1964: not done
1965: complete
1966: not done
1967: not done
1968: not done
1969: not done
1970: not done


A booklet, prepared for the 20th Anniversary, contains the current written history of the Society. This contains a short write-up of the years 1948-1968, lists of Officers and Governors 1949-1968 and lists of Awards and recipients 1949-1968. This booklet could be kept up to date and republished from time to time with later material added.

A similar booklet was prepared for the Society’s 25th Anniversary in 1973.


[There is also the Gold issue of JAES Jan/Feb 98 commemorating 50 years/dpr]

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