History Project: A Few Opening Remarks

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"It should come as no surprise that from its humble beginnings in 1971 among a few gifted practitioners able to see the need for and promise of such an organization, the growth and history of the Computer Law Association pretty much tracks the growth and history of technology, especially computer-communications technology, in the U.S. Initially, issues and CLE programs reflected the mainframe world and vendor-supplied software dominating the scene -- liability, regulation, proprietary rights by contract, office automation, databases, carrier competition, taxation and contracting, among others.  But it fairly promptly evolved beyond that into the issues and programs focused on a mainframe vendor-independent software industry (due to the "unbundling" of software post 1969) and onward to microcomputers and pre-packaged, even consumer, software for so-called personal computers - involving many of the same issues, but from the very different perspective of multiple independent vendors and many, many more users, so copyright and licensing tended to become the focus, not large systems and general contracting."

(--Daniel Brooks)

You will see that our timeline bears out Dan’s comments. As the computer industry developed so too did the CLA whose members served its legal needs.  The topics discussed at its conferences changed to reflect changes in the IT industry and in methods of distribution.  So too as Silicon Valley developed the Association came to have a larger base there and many programs were held there.  As the industry grew so too did the CLA and as the industry became more international again the CLA followed suit.

Dan Brooks himself is worthy of a brief note. One past CLA president, Richard ("Dick") Bernacchi recalls that in the 1970s and early 1980s "Dan was the "backbone" of the organization. Without his tireless efforts I’m sure that many of us that served in various capacities on behalf of the CLA would have struggled mightily and the organization would not have operated as smoothly and as effectively as it did." Another past president, Paul Bent notes that "during the late 1970s and early ’80s, there’s no question that he held the organization together in many of the most fundamental ways. He did so with no thought of promoting himself, and he gave tirelessly of his time and personal resources month after month and year after year. (It should be remembered that CLA had no professional administrative help at that time; Dan was the one who, from his own house, managed the lion’s share of our administration, organization, and planning.)."

IT Industry Timeline

1970-1974: Era of the Mainframe but Beginnings of the Licensing of Software

1975-1979: Rise of the Minicomputer and Dedicated Word Processors

1980-1984: The personal computer receives Time Magazine’s "Man of the Year" Award. Beginnings of Mass Marketing of Software

1985-1989: Visionary Jaron Lanier coins the term "virtual reality" and produces the equipment to experience it.

1990-1994: ARPAnet ends. Tim Berners-Lee creates the World Wide Web.

1995-1999: Wi-Fi protocol 802.11b is published. CDs outsell vinyl records. 44 million Internet users surf the net.

2000-2005: Approximately 1 billion PCs have been shipped worldwide since the mid-’70s. U.S. broadband subscribers reach 28 million. Google goes public.

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