University of Maryland

Historical CHI Video Project

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Working with ACM SIGCHI, we are digitizing and archiving historical videos from the CHI Conference, the premier international conference for the field of Human-Computer Interaction.

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  • Long term: Digitize all the CHI videos and archive them in the ACM Digital Library and on the SIGCHI YouTube Channel. We want to preserve the CHI Technical Video Programs, but also CHI special programs and recordings of keynotes.
  • Medium term (DONE): Process and make available the Technical Video Programs, which were produced between 1983 to 2002.
  • First step (DONE): Process the CHI’92 video from beginning to end (digitization, collecting permission for each video – which is required by ACM, and submitting the files and metadata to the Digital Library.)
Photo of VHS tape
The VHS tape of the 1999 Video Program and Video Proceedings (i.e. papers’ video figures )
None of those videos was on the Digital Library at the start of the project

TIP to search the tapes

Status Updates



  • Catherine Plaisant, Senior Research Scientist at the University of Maryland, and INRIA International Chair.
  • Nat DeMenthon, a graduate student in the Human-Computer Interaction Master program.
  • you, helping us find authors or obtain corporate permissions


  • 20 years during which the CHI Conference only used VHS tapes for videos (1983 to 2002)
  • 322 video segments currently in the process of being preserved
  • 284 permissions obtained (as of 2/11/2020)
  • 90.8 % of permissions returned for the Tech Program videos (as of 3/12/2020)
  • 253+302 emails in one month – containing “video” and “permission” (in the Inbox+Sent folders of Catherine between January 10 and February 10, 2020 – a pretty intense month…)

Publications related to the project

About this project

About the CHI videos

Missing people

ACM needs the authors permission to post the videos.
Some authors seem impossible to find.

If you know them, tell them to get in touch with Catherine Plaisant.

  • Jan Walker, at Symbolics circa 1985 but also worked at DEC and BBN: sole author of the video “The Document Examiner” in CHI ’85.
  • >>FOUND John (Thanks Peter Lucas) John Kolojejchick, Joe Mattis, Mei C. Chuah – CMU students circa 1995, co-authors of “SageTools: an intelligent environment for sketching, browsing, and customizing data-graphics” in CHI ’95 (along with Steven F. Roth who passed away in 2005)
  • >>FOUND Gary (Thanks Abbe Don)<<: Carmen Egido, Gary Herman, Craig Reading at Bellcore circa 1987, authors of “Multimedia technology in collaborative writing” in CHI ’87
  • >> Found Beth: Beth M. Lange, Mark A. Jones, James L. Meyers, at Anderson Consulting circa 1998, authors of “Insight lab: an immersive team environment linking paper, displays, and data” in CHI ’98
  • Erik Rutten, David Ziedman, Doris Pelger, Bill McCarthy, Duncan Prior, with Technology Partners, Amsterdam circa 2001, “Building international web sites for the financial market” in CHI ‘2001
  • Diane Tacito, Easel, for “Graphic Design of an Executive Information System” in 92 Special Program
  • Sinead Bomba, at Henry Dreyfuss Associates circa 92, contact for “Computer Interface Design” in 92 Special Program

The saddest moments were when we realized that colleagues had passed away. This project is dedicated to them: Edith Ackerman, Gaetano Borriello, Steve Gano, Sören Lenman, Barry Mathis, Greg Nelson, Ken Pier, Paul Rankin, Steve Roth, Joe Rutledge, Mayer Schwartz, Warren Teitelman, Cathy Wolf.

A bit of history…

From the start, CHI had a Technical Video Program (i.e., video was one of the submission categories of the technical program).

Things vary from year to year but here is the example of 1992:

  • Authors submitted their videos to the Video Chairs, who put together a committee to review and select videos for publication. The conference published a VHS tape with a series of 13 video segments.
  • At the conference, there was a room dedicated to the video program, which ran in a loop during the entire week.
  • In addition, the videos could be watched on TV in every room of the conference hotels. There was a special channel for our videos 🙂
  • A 2-page abstract was published in the Proceedings so the 1992 abstracts exist in the ACM Digital Library (but not the videos themselves).
  • Registrants could pre-order a VHS tape with all the videos.
  • ACM made the VHS tapes available for purchase after the conference, in NTSC format but also PAL and SECAM for international viewers.
  • The Copyright of the videos was always retained by the authors.
photo of the box of a VHS tape
Example of VHS tape, here the Issue 76 and 77 of the SIGGRAPH Video Review, which contains the CHI ’92 Technical Video Program.

Some dates

  • From 1983 to 1993: VHS tapes were published as part of the SIGGRAPH Video Review Series, sometimes much after the conference.
  • 1983: Sara Bly is the first “Film and videotape Chair”. The issue #8 of the SIGGRAPH Video Review also includes “Excerpts from CHI ’83” with two videos, about Xerox’s Smalltalk and Apple’s Lisa interface; then issue #12 and #13 include 15 peer-reviewed video segments from CHI ’83. Those SIGGRAPH issues were published in 1984 instead of 1983 which can be confusing.
  • 1984: no video because… no CHI ‘84! (CHI was originally planned to run every other year).
  • 1986: no video seem to have been published, even though some videos were presented at the conference.
  • 1990: a list of video titles and authors appears in the Proceedings for the 1st time (p. 469)
  • 1991: each video now has a 2-page abstract, published in the proceedings, therefore the videos are represented in the ACM Digital Library but the videos are still not included…
  • 1991 is also the start of the World Wide Web.
  • 1995: SIGCHI starts its own series of videos (i.e. CHI’95 is not an issue of SIGGRAPH Video Review)
  • 1996: Catherine is the video chair, and for the 1st time the VHS videotape is distributed to all attendees of the conference as part of the Proceedings. Video Figures are introduced (i.e. videos as supplementary materials to the printed papers).
  • 1997: The ACM Digital Library is created (Date uncertain, even if retrieved from the Library of Congress catalog). Slowly after that ACM will digitize all the papers of the past CHI conferences, but NOT the videos.
  • 1998: UNC starts working on the first ever video digital library: the Open Video Project
  • 2002: the Technical Video Program ends. After that researchers post their videos on the web or submit them as supplementary materials to their paper.     
  • Recent past: Many researchers pressed ACM to digitize the videos but the masters of the videos were lost, ACM only retained copies of a subset of the videos, and – more importantly – ACM did not hold the copyright of the videos so posting videos was not possible.
  • ~2013: A new video program reappears at CHI with a CHI Video Showcase.
  • 2019: The videos from 1983 to 2002 are still NOT in the Digital Library. It is time to change that. In fact, it is urgent because many of the authors of the early videos are long retired or just cannot be located. The oldest VHS tapes are also reaching the end of their expected lifespan.

How the tapes were used

The early CHI videos were used extensively for teaching, and by researchers and practitioners to stay up-to-date. Many of the videos played a major role in patent litigations (see one example here).
The tapes required the use of VHS tape players but everyone had one at home then, and many classrooms too.
Catherine remembers giving talks with transparencies and a bag full of videotapes for demonstrations. That was before we all had laptops or the internet…

Related history resources

  • The Open-Video Project was the 1st video digital library, a project of Gary Marchionini at the University of North Carolina. It includes all the CHI videos but – like many old prototypes- it is unmaintained and on a very old server which could stop working any day. The search is not working correctly any more, and there are no author names included. Best is to search for a specific year e.g. 1993, expand to see all the results – not just the top 10 – and you can search in the text of the results.
  • The HCIL video archive is also a good source of early user interface research video
  • Ben Shneiderman’s videos, including the important early “User Interface Strategies (UIS)” videos –  a 1988 to 1997 series of annual interactive satellite broadcasts that addressed cutting-edge issues in human-computer interaction at the time, with talks from Ben and other influential HCI researchers.
  • Ben Shneiderman’s MyLifePix includes many photos taken at the SIGCHI conferences from 1982 to 1997
  • The INRIA Interaction Museum
  • The Computer History Museum
  • Early collections also included a subset of CHI Videos e.g., at INRIA Bordeaux (Nicolas Roussel) or at Delft University
  • Know of others? Let us know

What happened in 1986 ?

There is no 1986 Technical Video to be found… even though the Proceedings list a Video Chair. What happened? Unfortunately, we cannot find Janet (Jan) Walker who was the video chair. Here are some photos of Jan in Ben Shneiderman’s photo archive.
But later we learned of a video which was presented in the CHI 1986 Video Program so there must have been a program, but it was never published.


We want to thank Loren Terveen and Helena Mentis for seeing the importance and timeliness of getting this project underway. At ACM, we thank Ashley Cozzi (Project Manager), Barbara Ryan (Intellectual Property Rights Manager), Craig Rodkin (Publication Manager) and Anna Lacson (Bibliographic Processing Coordinator). Saul Greenberg’s help has been invaluable to get us started with a solid catalog of the CHI conferences, and DVD copies of most tapes so we could review them. Brad Myers provided access to his precious collection of original CHI videotapes, complementing the ones we had in hand at Maryland. A couple of issues were still missing so we obtained Siggraph Video Review issues relevant to CHI (issue 8 from 1983 and 40-41 for the CHI’88 Art Show) from Dana Plepys (UIC) who provided mp4 versions. Finally Gary Marchionini’s Open Video Project saved us when we realized no-one had issue 65 from CHI’90.
Many people provided assistance with corporate or institutional permissions: John Richards, Stu Card, Raj Minhas, David Suski, Alexandra Kahn, Brian Amento, Shiz Kobara, Michael Kuniavsky, Brian Johnson, Andrew Harrington, and many more who were contacted directly by the authors. Ben Shneiderman and other friends and colleagues provided leads to locate hard to find authors who often had retired. Kashyap Todi and David Ayman Shamma helped closed-caption and post the videos on SIGCHI YouTube Channel.

We do our best to include all the names, but let us know if we forgot someone.