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Just curious: when (approximately) was the first scientific conference which contained a poster session? Wikipedia does not give an answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ @njuffa: I found in Google a physics conference in 1975 that had a poster sessions. I wonder about medical conferences. $\endgroup$
    – markvs
    Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 0:26
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    $\begingroup$ The article A History of the Poster Session writes that poster sessions first appeared in the late 1960s...... $\endgroup$
    – nwr
    Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ I thought this poster, while not what the OP might want, is an original poster. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 8, 2021 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ A small data-point: in my "youth" in U.S. academe, in mathematics, I don't recall any "poster session(s)" until after 2000. Some technological obstacles, for one thing, but, also, it just wasn't what people'd been doing for decades. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ @paulgarrett: See the answers. In math, poster sessions existed since 1980s at least. No technology was needed, text was written on pieces of paper which were attached (glued or nailed) to large pieces of stronger paper. $\endgroup$
    – markvs
    Commented Feb 28, 2022 at 0:40

2 Answers 2

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The paper Lire debout. Le poster comme pratique de lecture dans le monde scientifique. writes:

Les «premiers» posters ou des produits fort proches furent présentés dès 1967 pour le moins au Medical Research Center (Carshalton), institut majeur de la recherche britannique. C’étaient des «feuilles préparées» (prepared cards) sur lesquelles des chercheurs regroupaient des résultats, surtout des graphiques et des tableaux – en fait, le matériel qui était usuellement montré par des diapositives; les feuilles étaient placées sur des panneaux et les auteurs se tenaient à leurs côtés pour une discussion. Ce type de présentation, né dans le domaine de la biochimie, gagna toute la discipline, puis dans les années 1975 et suivantes, fut introduit dans les congrès internationaux et nationaux de toutes les sciences de la vie et de la matière.

The first posters appeared at least as early as 1967 at the Carshalton Medical Research Centre in Great Britain. These were 'prepared cards' on which researchers gathered results, mostly graphs and tables – in fact, the material was usually shown by slides; the leaves were placed on panels and the authors stood at their sides for a discussion. This type of presentation, born in the field of biochemistry, won the whole discipline, then in the year 1975 it was introduced at the international and national congresses of all life and matter sciences.

(The Carshalton Medical Research Centre is now part of The United Kingdom Medical Research Council)

The paper goes on to say:

Le succès du poster dans le monde scientifique s’explique aisément: le nouveau format répondait tout à la fois aux attentes des organisateurs de congrès, des auteurs de communications et des participants.

The success of the poster in the scientific world can be easily explained: the new format met both the expectations of the organizers conference, authors of papers and participants.

The paper continues by noting that from the 1960s, scientific meetings had to face a considerable increase in the number of communications related to the strong growth of the scientific population and the poster session format provided a suitable response to these increased demands.

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The earliest scientific conference with a poster session I have been able to find so far is summarized in:

Lee P. Herrington and Gordon M. Heisler, "Conference summary", Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 57, No. 6., June 1976, pp. 696-699 (online)

This is a summary of: Conference on metropolitan physical environment: vegetation, space, and structure for human amenities, 25-29 August 1975, U.S. Department of Agriculture Syracuse, N.Y.

About one-third of the papers presented at the conference were "poster" presentations. Rather than losing time in coffee breaks, part of each halfday session was devoted to this type of presentation. Authors prepared posters (3 ft X 5 ft) outlining the major points of their work. The "audience" moved from poster to poster as individuals, entering into discussions with the poster authors as interest dictated. Both participants and audience found this to be an effective way to exchange information. In our opinion, all AMS conferences should consider this highly efficient means of encouraging scientific interchange.

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  • $\begingroup$ The comment by @Nick above traces it back to the 60s.See also his answer. $\endgroup$
    – markvs
    Commented Aug 6, 2021 at 3:34

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