Our History

For nearly a century, The American Institute of Physics (AIP) has worked to advance, promote and serve the physical sciences community for the benefit of humanity. AIP was founded in 1931 to address research funding shortfalls brought on by the Great Depression. At the urging of the Chemical Foundation, which provided initial funding, leaders of American physics formed a corporation for the “advancement and diffusion of knowledge of the science of physics and its application to human welfare,” especially by achieving economies in the publishing of journals and the maintenance of membership lists.

Broader concerns also argued for cooperation. With the advent of esoteric theories in quantum, nuclear, and relativity physics, the worlds of academic and industrial physics seemed to be drifting apart. Moreover, because the public found physics hard to comprehend, some blamed science-based technology for the perils of modern warfare and economic collapse. Thus, from the outset the Institute also worked to foster cooperation within the physics community and to improve public understanding of science.

AIP founded, with headquarters in New York City
Photo of the old American Institute of Physics building in New York City
AIP comprises five societies with a combined membership of 4,000:
  • American Physical Society (APS)
  • Optical Society of America (now Optica)
  • Acoustical Society of America
  • Society of Rheology
  • American Association of Physics Teachers
Logos: ASA, SR, APS, AAPT, Optica
AIP publishes journals on behalf of Member Societies, such as Physical Review for APS, as well as cross-disciplinary journals and titles that bridge basic and applied physics.
AIP conducts its first surveys on education and employment in the physical sciences
Physics Today begins publication
The first Physics Today cover, featuring Oppenheimer's porkpie hat.
The AIP Conference Proceedings series begins publishing
American Association of Physicists in Medicine joins AIP
AAPM logo
American Vacuum Society (now AVS: Science and Technology of Materials, Interfaces, and Processing) joins AIP
AVS logo
AIP publishing operations moved to Woodbury, Long Island, NY
AIP's Woodbury site, from Physics Today
American Geophysical Society (AGU) joins AIP
AGU logo
AIP begins book publishing program (renamed AIP Press in 1993)
First Science Policy Fellowship awarded
Office of Public Information formed, combining government relations and media services
AIP launches Discoveries & Breakthroughs Inside Science television program (later evolving into the website Inside Science, in operation until 2021
Inside Science logo
Graduate Programs in Physics, Astronomy, and Related Fields goes online, renamed GradSchoolShopper
GradSchoolShopper.com logo
Physics Today Career Network, an online jobs board, launches
AIP opens an office in Beijing, China (now part of AIP Publishing)
Group Opening of AIP Beijing Office
To adapt to changes in the publishing market and focus on its own publications and its Member Societies’ journals, AIP divests some of its publishing services business.
AIP launches its first open access journal, AIP Advances, followed by APL Materials in 2013
American Meteorological Society joins AIP; AGU departs from AIP
AMS logo
AIP’s governing board forms AIP Publishing LLC, as a wholly owned subsidiary to carry out AIP’s journal publishing mission.