ACM SIGGRAPH is the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. One of the unique components of the ACM organization is its Special Interest Groups or SIGs (in the early days they were called Special Interest Committees or SICs). Like the parent ACM organization, each SIG is governed by a board made up of volunteer members.
In 1967, ACM Board member Sam Matsa of IBM/GM and Andy Van Dam of Brown University organized a professional development seminar on Interactive Computer Graphics as part of a larger series of seminars. Matsa convinced ACM to sponsor these seminars, which traveled around the country, attracting 40 or 50 people to each event. In the graphics seminar, Van Dam taught the hardware side and Matsa taught the software component.
As a result of the interest in the graphics discipline, evidenced by the attendance at these seminars, Matsa and Van Dam convinced ACM that they should recognize a Special Interest Committee in Graphics, and SICGRAPH was born. Matsa was the founding Chairman and Van Dam as Secretary organized the SIC newsletters.
In 1969, the members wanted recognition of the area in the way other computing disciplines were recognized, with elected rather than appointed officers, so a lobbying effort resulted in enough signatures to convince ACM to give the SIC a Special Interest Group designation, and ACM-SIGGRAPH was established. Its first elected chair was Ed Devine. Jon Meads named it SIGGRAPH: the Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in the bylaws, in order to recognize the graphics and the human elements of the equation.
The organization participated in the broader ACM conferences and published a quarterly newsletter. Interest ran the gamut from simulation and modeling to text editing and composition, to computer-generated art, cartography and mapping, computer-aided design, and computer graphics software and hardware.
In 1973, Meads and Bob Schiffman organized the first annual SIGGRAPH conference, which has become one of the compelling aspects of the organization. It was held in Boulder, Colorado in the summer of 1974 as the 1st Annual Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques. Attendance was approximately 600 people. There was no formal proceedings. Instead, the papers were included in an obscure journal from Pergammon Press. The next two conferences, at Bowling Green, Ohio and Philadelphia, were only moderately successful. In 1977 the conference was held in a Hyatt hotel in San Jose, and it was a resounding success, leading to decades of successful and important SIGGRAPH conferences. One of the reasons San Jose was a success: It was the first SIGGRAPH to have formal commercial exhibits. Many people think of it as the first SIGGRAPH. Many successful conferences later, the proceedings of the conference are now published as a special issue of the ACM Transactions on Graphics (TOG).
In 2008, SIGGRAPH began the SIGGRAPH Asia (SA) conference, which has convened in several locations including Singapore, Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. SA has continued in the strong technical tradition of SIGGRAPH, and the SA conference proceedings are also published as a special edition of TOG.
ACM SIGGRAPH now supports two annual conferences attended by tens of thousands of computer professionals. The organization also sponsors other conferences specializing in the diverse disciplines within the computer graphics arena. The organization has membership worldwide and supports activities throughout the year. The organization's values are excellence, integrity, volunteerism, passion, and cross-disciplinary interaction.