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Meeting of the Minds

​The concept of an annual meeting was central to the original vision for the Society. On October 27, 1955, 52 ASIS members gathered at the Sheraton-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., for a one-day conference. Members paid a $5 registration fee for the conference and $6 to attend the banquet that closed the conference. 

Now, the annual seminar and exhibits marks the high point of the Society’s year. Tens of thousands of security professionals travel from all over the world to network and learn more about the latest in best practices and products. That’s why we are focusing on the seminar and exhibits in this month’s “60 Years, 60 Milestones.”

Many of the features we associate with the seminar and exhibits appeared early in the Society’s history. In its second year, the conference expanded to two days and included exhibits for the first time. Eleven companies participated, including Tyco Integrated Security (formerly ADT), which has never missed a seminar. Over the coming decades, hundreds of exhibitors would fill increasingly larger exhibit halls.

Also, in the second year several educational sessions were held. They included topics such as “Physical Security in the Electronic Era” and “Have We Gone Overboard on Identification?” By 1995, presenting a session at the seminar and exhibits had become so popular that the Society instituted a call for papers, establishing a committee to determine which submissions would be accepted. Now the seminar hosts hundreds of concurrent sessions organized into subject areas.

In 1958, the conference officially became the annual seminar. The event spanned three days and “Ladies Activities” were added to the schedule. Attendance rose to 322. The seminar featured the first reception to honor the incoming ASIS president, a tradition that still continues.

The seminar and exhibits tripled in size during the 1980s. By the end of the decade, the seminar hosted 84 educational sessions and 747 exhibit booths. In 1982, a full day of sessions was presented in Spanish, ushering in a high level of global participation that remains robust today. In 1993, the seminar included an “International Day” devoted to a global issues.

The seminar and exhibits continued to break participation records. The 2003 event included 135 sessions, 2,106 exhibit booths, and 17,264 attendees.

(ISC)2 held its first Security Congress, collocated with ASIS, in 2011, cementing a tradition of partnerships with like-minded groups. Last year, ASIS partner organizations included the Door and Hardware Institute, the Security Industry Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce National Security Task Force.

The ASIS International 61st Annual Seminar and Exhibits will take place next month, September 28–October 1 in Anaheim, California. Though many changes have occurred over the past 60 years, the mission remains the same: moving the industry forward through interaction, collaboration, and education.