History Project: The 1990s

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1991 CLA Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

The CLA celebrated its 20th anniversary in April 1991 in Washington at its annual update meeting, chaired by Jay Westermeier [link to . The Association marked the event with a 20th Anniversary program entitled Where We Have Been, Where We Are and Where We Are Going. A brief history of the Association edited by Bob Bigelow and Ian Kyer was also published.

Jay Westermeier recalls:

I was asked to chair the CLA’s 20th Anniversary Conference in 1991. As part of the 20th Anniversary Program, I moderated a video "Meeting with the Founders" that was recorded at American University. Professor John Doolittle and his students at American University produced the video. In thanking Professor Doolittle and his students for producing the CLA Founders video, we thanked them for providing a historical as well as "informative and interesting documentation of the people who are responsible for founding CLA and the field of computer law itself".

The 20th Anniversary Dinner Program was held at the Grand Hotel, Washington, D.C. Oliver R. Smoot was the President of CLA at the time and presided over the anniversary dinner. The video of the "Meeting with the Founders" was played at the dinner. Fred Lafer was one of the founders who participated in the video meeting. He was a former Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Automatic Data Processing, Inc., past president of ITAA (then "ADAPSO"), and the first president of CLA. Nathan ("Nate") Snyder, Herb Marks, Roy Freed, Bob Bigelow, Ed Grenier and Milton R. Wessel participated in the videotaped meeting . Two founders were not able to participate.

Tragically, Milt Wessel died May 27, 1991, just a little over a month after the 20th Anniversary meeting. Milt was an adjunct professor at Georgetown University when he died at age 67. He had been a special assistant to the executive director of ADAPSO, the computer software and services association. We sent a copy of the videotape of the April 22nd "Meeting with the Founders" to his widow, Joan Wessel, as a remembrance.

She wrote us the following "thank-you" note:

"Thank you for sending me the videotape of the April 22nd "Meeting with the Founders". It arrived Christmas Eve when two of my sons were here from out of town. With some trepidation, after reading your letter, we all decided that we really wanted to see the tape immediately. It had a wonderful effect on us all, bringing Milton so close once again and reminding us all of the vitality, honesty and brilliant humor that he possessed. Instead of a sad occasion, it was one of warm remembrance and I thank you for sharing it with us. I shall cherish the tape."

Jan. 3, 1992

At the 20th Anniversary Program, we also announced the top computer law cases. We continued to recognize the top cases in computer law as determined by a membership survey at the 25th and 30th Anniversary Programs.

1991 First Pacific Rim Conference

In 1991 Stephen LaCount chaired the first of what became a series of Pacific Rim Conferences co-sponsored by the Japanese Electronics Industry Development Association or JEIDA. The program was held in Newport Beach. Steve played a key role in other Pacific Rim programs which were held in Sydney Australia in 1993 [link to picture of Steve and Ian Kyer at Sydney Tower], San Francisco in 1995 and Hawaii in 1997.

1993 CLA Computer Law Companion series Launched

Dinant Oosterbaan, pointing to what was done in The Netherlands, suggested that the CLA published the best of its papers in an annual volume. Ian Kyer and Chris Erickson from Toronto volunteered to select and edit the papers. Chris and Barbara Fieser, the Executive Director of the Association, oversaw the arrangements with the printers. Four volumes were done between 1993 and 1996 under the title The CLA Computer Law Companion.

1993 CLA goes to Australia

In an effort to reach out across the Pacific, the CLA organized a conference in Sydney Australia in February, 1993. Longstanding CLA members Peter Knight and Philip Argy worked to make this program a great success both socially and substantively. Social highlights included a boat tour of Sydney harbor, a visit to the Opera House and a dinner at the Museum of Modern Art.

1993 CLA Starts Tradition of the Monterey Retreats

Stephen Davidson and Gervaise Davis III ("Gerry") have given much to the CLA. Steve became President in 1995 and helped foster the recent European conference initiative., Gerry, a longstanding board member, gave the CLA its first real web page. But what both are fondly remembered for is the excellent series of retreat programs that they chaired in Monterey California. The first entitled From Bits and Bytes to Virtual Reality was held in the fall of 1993. The second in 1996 was a variation on the theme and dealt with the new world of th Internet under the title From Bits and Bytes to Cyberspace.

1994 CLA Conference in Seattle

The Seattle conference in the fall of 1994 is notable for several reasons. It marked the first time that a West Coast meeting of the CLA was held outside California, reflecting the increasing importance of Seattle and its environs in the IT industry. With Microsoft and a host of other IT companies, Seattle could no longer be ignored. That conference also represented the first time that the Internet was a conference topic. Not surprisingly the presentation by Andy Johnson Laird was a multi-media introduction to the Internet entitled "The Good the Bad and the Ugly". That conference also featured a presentation by William Ferron Jr, on the patentability of software inventions. Sincew that date the Net and software patents have been of increasing importance.

William ("Bill") Barron of Seattle chaired the program. Bill had long been a member of the CLA, having edited its newsletter in the early and mid 1980s.

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