The NCSU Libraries’ Computer Simulation Archive was established in 1998 with substantial initial donations of papers and research materials by three pioneers in the field of computer simulation—Robert G. Sargent, Alan Pritsker, and Julian Reitman. The Archive is supported by an endowment to facilitate the addition of more collections, expedite processing of materials in the archive, and enable the digitization of selected materials documenting the history of computer simulation. With the assistance of simulation scholars, relevant professional societies, Friends of the Library, and individual donors, the Simulation Archive continues to develop, providing researchers with valuable insights into the history of the field.

Computer simulation was established as a separate discipline of research and practice during the mid-1950s, with many seminal works in the field published from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. Reflecting the diverse backgrounds of the field’s pioneers, simulation encompasses theory, methodology, and practice arising at the interface of applied probability, computer science, electrical and computer engineering, industrial and systems engineering, management, manufacturing engineering, operations research, and statistics.

The roots of the computer simulation field are revealed in the broad diversity of current application domains in which the development and use of large-scale computer simulation models are critical to the design, improvement, and operational control of computer and telecommunications networks, financial systems, healthcare delivery systems, transportation systems, and governmental and military systems. The field comprises discrete-event simulation, Monte Carlo methods, combined discrete-continuous simulation as well as hybrid analytic/simulation computer models. It is noteworthy that as the field has matured, it has contributed significantly to the evolution of allied disciplines—for example, object-oriented programming in computer science and innovative resampling schemes in statistics.

To document the development and expansion of this field, NCSU Libraries is pleased to present a unique oral history archive of computer simulation pioneers. The video oral histories of computer simulation pioneers were funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and were conducted in 2013. The purpose of this grant initiative is to capture and preserve accounts of seminal projects, related pivotal events, and distinguished project contributors from the perspectives of, and the words of, individuals who witnessed the relevant history of computer simulation firsthand. The importance of collecting these accounts is also based on the remarkable degree to which computer simulation has heavily influenced the design of computing software. These video oral histories build on the audio oral histories already present in the Simulation Archive.

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at NCSU Libraries continues to seek the oral histories of computer simulation pioneers as well as the papers and records of prominent scholars in the history of computing and simulation as well as computer science. For more information about the project and the Computer Simulation Archive, please consult the contact information below.


Gwynn A. Thayer
Associate Head and Curator of Special Collections
NCSU Libraries
Campus Box 7111
Raleigh, NC 27695-7111
(919) 513-3315


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