History

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.

The Computer Simulation Archive was established at the NC State University (NCSU) Libraries in 1998, by simulation pioneers Robert Sargent and James Wilson, with the support of Russell Koonts, University Archivist of the NC State University Libraries at that time. Sargent, Wilson and Dick Nance, another simulation pioneer, formed the Computer Simulation Archive Advisory Committee in coordination with Gregory Rashke, Associate Director of the NC State University Libraries for Collections and Scholarly Communications at that time and presently the Senior Vice Provost and Director of Libraries.

The Advisory Committee was an innovation: it is “participative” rather than solely advisory: Committee members help in identifying pioneers and conducting video interviews and in identifying and acquiring materials. The Advisory Committee in 2011 prepared and submitted a successfully funded proposal to the National Science Foundation to conduct interview (oral history) videos with the pioneers of simulation. Twenty-five initial videos were made. Included are two videos made of separate panel discussions of the simulation languages GPSS and SIMULA, and one video discussing the creation of the Computer Simulation Archive.

Additional details on the creation and operation of the Archive are provided in the 2017 Proceedings of the Winter Simulation Conference, available at www.informs-sim.org.