Tech. Comm. Organizations: History Through Present Day


By Becky Guadagnoli


In a world of fast growing technology, it is necessary to communicate information between professionals, businesses and the general public. There are many organizations in the United States and globally that strive to connect individuals with information through the Internet, publications, instructional documents, and several other methods of transmitting information of advancing technology.

One such organization is the Society for Technical Communication (STC). There are several others that share information with STC, maintain relationships and co-sponsor programs. The following is a brief history of each organization, an update of where they are now, how they have grown, and what type of technical information they support. The number of these organizations has grown tremendously so only a few are listed, STC being one of the largest.


In 1953, two organizations were formed on the East Coast, one called the Society of Technical Writers and the other called the Association of Technical Writers and Editors. When they merged in 1957 they became the Society of Technical Writers and Editors. In 1960, STWE merged with the Technical Publishing Society, which was founded in 1954 on the West Coast. In 1971, the organizationís name was changed to the Society for Technical Communication. STC is now the largest professional society in the world dedicated to the advancement of theory and practice of technical communication. The growth of this organization is directly related to the growth of technology.


People working in the field saw themselves as professionals who had unique training and career issues. STC was a way to bring all of these things together. STC assists professionals in designing effective communication for our ever-changing technical world. The following are a few of the organizationís goals:


  • Enhance the professionalism of members and the status of the profession.

  • Provide information through publications, reports and conferences.

  • Report on new communication technologies, methods and applications.

  • Promote education of members to support research activities in the field.

  • Give service to industry and academics.


The members of STC were originally made up of engineers who, in addition their regular activities, wrote instructions and descriptions of how electrical and mechanical products worked. As technology boomed and the need to understand it became a part of our everyday lives, the members became a diverse group and now include: technical writers and editors, content developers, documentation specialists, educators, information architects, visual designers, and web designers and developers.

STC is now over 50 years old, with 150 chapters and 25,000 members worldwide. It has grown to offer industry leadership and education, networking and information required in our ever-changing world. STC maintains relationships with other technical communication organizations, shares information and occasionally co-sponsors programs. The following a just a few of the organizations with whom STC works.


The Association for Computing Machineryís Special Interest Group for Design of Communication (SIGDOC) promotes professional development of technical communication practitioners, researchers and educators. It used to be made up primarily of technical writers but now includes computer scientists and software engineers. SIGDOC promotes the study of publication processes, methods and technologies for communicating and designing communication artifacts like printed documents, online text and hypermedia applications.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) was founder in 1848 and now serves 262 affiliated societies and academics of science. AAAS serves ten million people seeking to advance science and innovation throughout the world through communication among scientists, engineers and public individuals.


The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) promotes the discovery and exchange of knowledge concerning characteristics of human beings that apply to design systems and devises of all kinds. The planning for this society began in 1955 in southern California and developed in 1956 by a founding committee. HFES was the product of two fused organizations, the Aero Medical Engineering Association and the Human Engineering Society. By 1995 it had 60 active chapters.


The list of technical communication organizations goes on and on and will continue to grow, as technology grows, in leaps and bounds. As new needs are discovered, new organizations are born; each with their own purpose and identity but all connected by the ever-changing world of technology and communication.







American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2004). About AAAS.  Retreived October 12, 2004, from


Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. (2003). HFES history:  About HFES. Retrived October 12, 2004, from


Society for Technical Communication. (2004). STC history. Retrived October 12, 2004, from


Special Interest Group on Design of Communication. (2004).  What is SIGDOC?  Retrieved October 12, 2004,   from