The history of a discipline can be represented in several ways: as a sequence of formal events tied to chronology, in terms of participant experiences, and as intellectual and specialty history. Formal history describes activities in relation to known chronological events. For example, it is possible to divide HFE activities into those performed prior to and during World War I and those before, during, and after World War II. The major markers here are the two World Wars because these were tremendously influential in developing HFE. This chapter describes the formal history of HFE.
Informal history can be considered experiential (i.e., activities seen and reported by the participants in that history). Examples are the many diaries written and published by soldiers of the two wars. Chapter 5 describes how the first generation of HFE professionals saw the early years (circa 1945- 1965). There is also intellectual history, which in this book consists primarily of an analysis of the published technical papers of the discipline. Chapter 6 describes this analysis.
The formal history described in this chapter is mostly the history of American HFE. Readers are probably aware that there is a parallel history in Great Britain and the former Soviet Union. These are also described in this chapter. The basic concepts of British HFE are largely those followed in the United States. Those of the Soviet Union, although markedly influenced by Western inputs, deviate sharply in some ways from Western concepts. Thus, some time is spent in describing Russian concepts and how these differ from Western ones.
A subspecies of the previous general histories is called specialty history, discussed in chapter 7. The history of the Human Factors and Ergonomics