History of Control Engineering

History of Control Engineering

To mark the close of its 60th anniversary year in 2014, Control Engineering is offering links to anniversary-related coverage and the year’s milestones. Through the year, coverage included a monthly look back at issues 15, 30, and 60 (59) years ago. Highlights on our way to our 60th anniversary include Control Engineering joining CFE Media in 2010, ControlEng.com being online for 15 years in 2011, and CE China celebrating 10 years in 2013. These are but a few of the many highlights that Control Engineering has celebrated since the 50th anniversary.

[See additional historical links, older and newer, below.]

Monthly histories: 60, 30, and 15 years ago (from the 60th anniversary in 2014

January 2014: 60, 30, and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

Education is our limit; Control engineers taking factory automation one step at a time; Mergers preparing companies for global arena, software evolution

More from January 1955: Automatic freightyard shuffles cars quickly yet gently

February 2014: 60, 30, and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

Control personalities; Good and bad news for automation; Industrial control supply mergers

More from February 1955: If washing machines sell turbines, cash registers can sell computers

March 2014: 60, 30, and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

Ticket printer consolidates loading records; Automation is an engineering job; How search engines organize the web

More from March 1955: Stop coining words! 

April 2014: 60, 30, and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

Controls pace Southeast industrialization; The lucrative industrial control field; The rise of e-commerce in manufacturing

More from April 1955: Keep the right kind of records to protect your patentable ideas

May 2014: 60, 30, and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

Management eyeing and buying computers; Data acquisition and control with personal computers

More from May 1955: Let’s pull together—again: A call for inter-association cooperation amongst engineers.

June 2014: 60, 30, and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

Technicians needed abroad; Foreign control suppliers becoming a trend; Women slowly gaining in engineering

More from June 1955: Will legislators probe control?

July 2014: 60, 30, and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

What pulses can do for you; Computers and controllers must share data; Pneumatic control: Not dead yet

More from July 1955: Italy looks at America’s control market

August 2014: 60, 30, and 15 years ago in Control Engineering 

New approach to information storage; Adaptive control sensors for manufacturing systems; Choosing the right project implementation strategy

More from August 1955: Nuclear energy breeds new markets for control

September 2014: 60, 30, and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

What computers promise; Hierarchical computer control systems: Automating the planning process; Open systems in process control: Are they the answer?

More from September 1954: Control engineers’ unique lexicon and syntax

October 1954: 60, 30 and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

Control in evolution: Analysis moves from lab to line; Data buses expand control horizons; Trends in process analyzers

More from October 1954: Potential success and risks investing in control engineering

November 1954: 60, 30 and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

What’s patentable in automatic control; ICs deliver more control capabilities; One-chip data acquisition gives elbow room to analog signals

More from November 1954: Automatic control will create new and more expert positions

December 1954: 60, 30 and 15 years ago in Control Engineering

Standpipes simplify flowmeter calibration; Analysis instruments reflect increasing computer capabilities; Managing risk: Don’t fall flat

More from December 1954: Creative thinking is important for engineers.

Editorials, commentaries, and retrospectives about 60th anniversary

Control Engineering predictions for 2014

Think Again: 10 predictions follow for Control Engineering subscribers in 2014.


Visions of manufacturing 25 years from now

Manufacturing automation 20-25 years into the future will be devoid of a paper trail. Great strides in automation, environmentally cleaner production plants, and energy efficiency in manufacturing will have been implemented.

Control Engineering advice: 60 years and beyond

Think Again: Wisdom from the past helps us innovate for the future, adapting to educational needs of control, instrumentation, and automation systems, worldwide.

2020: Future Automation

Engineering future: Ambition to change the world is essential as automation spreads into areas beyond industrial applications.

Electronic motion control, then and now

Automation tales in motion: Great changes have taken place in motion control systems over the last 60 years. Four online extensions, with a historical photo gallery, cover more functions and history.

Control Engineering anniversary recalls impact of technology on industry, life

Reflections on six decades of publishing reveal how developments in computer hardware, software, storage, and displays dissolved communications barriers, promoted systems integration, added intelligence to simple components, and led to once-thought-impossible achievements today-and a no-holds-barred tomorrow.

Future of the PLC

Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) are evolving and continue to be the best option for a variety of industrial automation applications.

Inside the competition for the first PLC

The race to develop the first programmable logic controllers (PLCs) was underway inside General Motors’ Hydra-Matic Transmission Division in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1970. Three finalists had very different architectures.

See more Control Engineering history below including what we were talking about and focused on during the magazine’s 50th anniversary in 2004. Do you see any similarities or differences in our focus then as opposed to today? What do you think we’ll be talking about in 2024?


Control Engineering 50th Anniversary

Oak Brook, IL— To mark the close of its 50th anniversary year in 2004, Control Engineering is offering links to anniversary-related coverage and the year’s milestones. Through the year, coverage included a monthly look back at issues 10, 25, and 50 years ago; a 50th anniversary poster; interviews with industry leaders; and various columns and commentaries. Milestones included the launch of the Control Engineering Resource Center, and the first full year for Control Engineering China and Control Engineering Poland editions. And, just for fun, more than 100 people attended an anniversary party held at ISA Expo Thanks for being with us during the year to expand and commemorate the world of Control Engineering. Feel free to link to this article to friends, who also appreciate the history and value of automation, controls, and instrumentation.

[See additional historical links, older and newer, at the bottom of this file.]

September 2004: 50th Anniversary Supplement

Past, Present, and Future of Control Engineering

50th Anniversary: We never could have dreamed
Control Engineering begins its 51st year of publication with this issue. Ed Kompass, Control Engineering ’s former editorial director, who retired in 1987, and who worked on the first issue, says it’s hard to believe how much has changed in the first 50 years. “Since most industrial controllers, whether for machine control, process control, or whole plant or enterprise control, are really dedicated computers, consider then a few of the changes in computer-based control over the past 50 years.”

Advances Beyond Imagination
Sporting more than 50 years in the automation and control industry, Dr. Irving Lefkowitz has seen it all when it comes to the modern advancement of industrial technologies. His perspective offers valuable insight for those pondering the future of the engineering professions.

Broaden Expertise; Apply Proven Technologies More Quickly
Jerry Yen, of General Motors Powertrain and OMAC Users Group, addresses PLC, PC-based, and wireless controls; the Web; legacy integration; business of manufacturing; and interoperability via standards.

Down-to-Earth Engineering in Space
Chet Vaughan, Boeing’s acting chief engineer for the International Space Station, says basic control and automation principles help the U.S. space program cope with challenges from galloping technical evolution to integration and standardization issues.

Recognizing excellence in product innovation
Control Engineering editors have been overseeing awards for product excellence for nearly two decades. Reviewing the historical leader-board for the Editors’ Choice Awards illustrates the ma-jor advances made in automation, control, and instrumentation over the years.

Technology and People Connections: Keys to the Future
Intelligent devices, integrated systems, distributed architectures…Dow engineers cite past advances and call on the controls field to be ready for further change. 

The Path Forward: Link Technology and Business
An interview with Andrew McDonald, Unilever HPC-NA’s global automation and control technology manager, reveals insights about bringing the communities of engineering and management closer together at your facility.

Monthly histories: 50, 25, and 10 years ago (from the 50th anniversary in 2004 – links provided as available)

January 2004: 50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering
Lucre and love at Illinois Tech; largest commercial solar operation at Honeywell; a collection of items from 1994

February 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering
Supermarket computer calculates correct change; report pessimistic about fiber-optics market; need for engineering services

March 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering 
Prospects are bright for smell that’s right; DEC’s PDP-11/34 Mini has been squeezed into a single-board micro; PLC users get new options

April 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering 
Automatic flight ahead; multiple output supplies; digital micrometer; ICEE/I

May 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering 
Robot salesman; thank Ma Bell for RS-232; pressure transmitter works with two protocols; control system bridges PC-PLC gap

June 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering 
Chicago to install new traffic control; distributed process modules; worldwide industrial automation investment

July 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering 
GE and IBM weld first link of computer network; using color in industrial control graphics; CAN-based I/O system taps PC for machine control

August 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering 
Tape-controlled machine out-embroiders Grandma; the Proway Project; signal conditioning is becoming I/O processing

September 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering 
Stop coining words; single-chip analog and digital signal processor; giants, machine control, and perspective

October 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering 
Dr. Bush calls for automatic encyclopedia; fiber-optic nuclear plant fail-safe system; wanted: skilled people for the plant floor

November 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering 
If the shoe fits; Remington Rand; cost breakthrough in ac drives; Fieldbus Foundation and ergonomics

December 2004:  50, 25, and 10 years ago in Control Engineering 
Transistors vs. tubes debate; speech synthesizer has control vocabulary; Rockwell wins Reliance Electric from General Signal

Editorials and commentaries about 50th anniversary


Think Again: Online: More in ’04

Building a ‘Soapbox’

Pin-up controls

Think again: Birth and rebirth

Why we’re here

Milestones for 2004

Control Engineering launches new online Resource Center (Now

Control Engineering China (first full year)

Control Engineering Poland (first full year)

[See Control Engineering International now.]

CE announces first Engineers’ Choice award winners (previously, Editor’s Choice Awards)

Reprise and update of Control Engineering’s PID series in four-book eBook format, in the Control Engineering Resource Center Library (… updated as individual PID articles.)

September 2004: 50th Anniversary Issue

ISA Expo 2004: CE hoops it up at 50th birthday party

Control Engineering Russia is planned for April 2005. See Control Engineering 2005 media kit, page 4 at /mediainfo.

Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Mark T. Hoske, editor-in-chief

– –

NEWER HISTORY and other resources

40th anniversary of PLC article

CFE Media forms in 2010 – Welcome Back To CFE Media, Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Control Engineering, Plant Engineering 

Online Training Center launches in 2011

CFE Media Launches ContentStream in 2012

Control Engineering launches System Integrator Giants in 2012

Control Engineering Automation Integrator Guide

System Integrator Hall of Fame

Control Loop is Automation Essence

Industry Trends / Where is Control Engineering going? See our annual editorial calendar and other resources



Want this article on your website? Click here to sign up for a free account in ContentStream® and make that happen.