The System Dynamics Timeline is a record of memorable System Dynamics-related events in each year, starting in 1956. You can scroll through these events using the arrows located under the header containing the dates, to the far left and far right.
While the SD Infographic content will remain as it is, the SD Timeline is an on-going project. We ask you continue to share any memory, photo, or fact (with the date). Your contributions are important in archiving the rich history of the field of System Dynamics and will serve to enhance the value and accuracy of the SD Timeline. You can share your items via email (office@systemdynamics.org).


1956 - Jay Joined the Sloan Faculty

Jay W. Forrester joined the MIT Sloan School faculty in 1956.

1956 - First D-Memo

A 1956 memo to the faculty research seminar titled “Dynamic models of economic systems and industrial organizations” laid out Jay W. Forrester's initial thinking, and became the first in a series of D-Memos (dynamic modeling memos).

1957 - Refrigerator/Beer Game

Forrester wanted an accessible way to explain his management insights to students. So he devised the Refrigerator Game, soon re-dubbed the Beer Game. In this table game, teams mimic the beer industry’s supply chain, trying to meet consumer demand while minimizing costly inventory

1957 - First System Dynamics Paper

Historically, the first paper leading to the field of System Dynamics was: Jay W. Forrester, 1957, "Systems Technology and Industrial Dynamics," pp. 10-21, in: Juan Cameron, ed., Adventure in Thought and Action -- Fifth Anniversary of the School of Industrial Management, MIT, Cambridge, MA: MIT Office of Publications.

1958 - SIMPLE

Richard Bennett created the first system dynamics computer modeling language called SIMPLE (Simulation of Industrial Management Problems with Lots of Equations) in the spring of 1958

1959 - DYNAMO

In 1959, Alexander Pugh wrote a D-memo titled "DYNAMO, an IBM Program for Generating Dynamic Models." In this document, he described how key-punched equations must be formulated.


1960 - MIT Summer Schools

After initial sessions in the previous years, a team of MIT professors and students organized a System Dynamics summer school with updated material and outlines. Led by Jay Forrester, these classes continued for years. The System Dynamics Society continues to hold Summer School sessions every year in conjunction with the annual conference.

1961 - Industrial Dynamics

Jay recruited talented MIT undergraduates as research assistants—Willard Fey, Jack Pugh, Edward Roberts and others—and spent the next years developing applications and laying out a vision of the contribution that they could make to management (Forrester 1959, 1960). These ideas led to his classic book, Industrial Dynamics.

1961 - The First Edition of DYNAMO

The first edition DYNAMO, written by Dr. Phyllis Fox and Alexander L. Pugh III, was published by M.I.T. Press. Between 1961 and 1994, many improved versions were published. DYNAMO was the dominant software for System Dynamics modeling in these years.

1962 - World’s First Ph.D. Dissertation in System Dynamics

Ed Roberts carried on a research program related to R and D management which produced a doctoral dissertation completed in 1962. Professor Frank Fisher, a distinguished econometrician, was his dissertation chair.

1963 - Pugh-Roberts Associates

Pugh-Roberts Associates founded by Alexander (Jack) L. Pugh III and Edward B. Roberts. Jack and Ed where two of the first three research students of Jay Forrester.

1964 - The Dynamics of Research and Development

Ed Robert's dissertation was soon published in 1964 and led almost by accident to the large series of project models that supported Pugh-Roberts Associates for years.

1967 - First System Dynamics Newsletter

The System Dynamics Newsletter, which was first called the Industrial Dynamics Newsletter, appears to have started before 1968 from reference to it in D-1169 of October 1968. The Newsletter was discontinued when the System Dynamics Review and other publications made it unnecessary.

1968 - Principles of Systems

Author: Jay W. Forrester

1969 - Urban Dynamics

In 1970 Forrester was invited to travel to Bern to attend a meeting of the Club of Rome. On July 1, during the Paris/Boston leg of his return air journey, Forrester spent about an hour sketching the stock/flow diagram of WORLD1 Model.


1970 - The Rise of WORLD1 Model

In 1970 Forrester was invited to travel to Bern to attend a meeting of the Club of Rome. On July 1, during the Paris/Boston leg of his return air journey, Forrester spent about an hour sketching the stock/flow diagram of WORLD1 Model.

1971 - World Dynamics

Author: Jay W. Forrester - Jay developed a model capturing feedbacks among population, natural resources, pollution, agricultural and industrial production, capital investment, and quality of life. The resulting book, World Dynamics (Forrester 1971a), posed sharp questions about the relationship between growth and quality of life, generating heated discussion in popular and scholarly forums worldwide.

1972 - The Limits to Growth

In response to the notoriety of World Dynamics, the Club of Rome offered to fund an extended study of the predicament of mankind via System Dynamics. Jay suggested that one of his former Ph.D. students, Dennis Meadows, conduct the study. The model that was created by Meadows and his associates was called WORLD3 and published in a book titled The Limits to Growth.

1972 - Jay Receives the IEEE Medal of Honor

Jay Forrester created coincident-current magnetic core memory in 1949 for fast and reliable data storage within Whirlwind. For its invention, in 1972 the (US) IEEE awarded him its Medal of Honor and in 1979 he was made a member of the (US) National Inventors' Hall of Fame.

1973 - Toward Global Equilibrium: Collected Papers

Edited by Dennis L. Meadows and Donella H. Meadows

1974 - Resource Policy Group

In 1974 the Resource Policy Group was established in Oslo, Norway, as one of the first centers of System Dynamics research outside the US.

1974 - Readings in Urban Dynamics

Edited by Nathaniel J. Mass

1975 - Dynamica

Dynamica had been founded by Geoff Coyle at Bradford University in 1975 and had served continuously since then as the sole journal devoted to publishing system dynamics scholarship.

1975 - Toulouse Conference

It was decided to have Annual SD conferences. The 1975 conference in Toulouse was organized by Jean Lebel.

1975 - Collected Papers of Jay W. Forrester

The papers, authored by Jay W. Forrester, summarize industrial dynamics as the application of feedback concepts to social systems to offer a rational foundation supporting the art of management. This collection includes provocative discussions of issues critical to manufacturing managers, including production-distribution systems, inventory and in-process order corrections, corporate growth patterns, and the reduction of research costs.

1976 - SD Conference in Geilo, Norway

The 1976 International Conference on System Dynamics was held in Geilo, Norway, August 8 – 15, 1976.

1976 - Grenoble Conference

The 1976 conference in Grenoble was organized by Rechenmann.

1977 - Alternatives to Growth I: A Search for Sustainable Futures

Edited by Dennis L. Meadows

1977 - Solaize (Lyon) Conference

The 1977 conference in Soliaze was organized by Michel Karsky. The first non-French Participants at this conference were Aracil (Spain), and De Bruyn (Belgium).

1978 - Managerial Applications of System Dynamics

Edited by Edward B. Roberts

1978 - Rouen Conference

The 1978 conference in Rouen was organized by Joël de Rosnay, who was one of the first to explain System Dynamics to French readers in the important book, The Macroscope. A Scottish scientist showing a pollution model and two Belgian professors from Mons were among the participants of the conference.

1979 - National Inventors Hall of Fame

Jay was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1979 for his work on the Whirlwind I and developing magnetic core memory.

1979 - First System Dynamics Book in K-12

Dynamic Feedback Systems Kit by Nancy Roberts was the first System Dynamics book for K-12 education.

1979 - Mons (Belgium) Conference

The 1979 Mons (Belgium) Conference was organized by Couvreur – Van Snyck, with presentations by Prigogine, G. Coyle, Parker, Sharp, Dangerfield, Krallmann, and Hurtubise. The first American participant was Dave Peterson, who gave two presentations.

1979 - National Inventors Hall of Fame

Jay was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1979 for his work on the Whirlwind I and developing magnetic core memory.


1980 - Edelman Award Competition

Ken Cooper becomes Edelman Laureate as a finalist in the ORSA/TIMS competition for best management science application in the world.

1980 - Elements of the System Dynamics Method

Many of the papers presented in the Geilo Conference were published in the final proceedings titled The System Dynamics Method. These proceedings were further refined over the next several years, to finally appear in MIT Press in 1980 as Elements of the System Dynamics Method (edited by Jorgen Randers, and consisting of 14 papers from the conference).

1980 - Corporate Planning and Policy Design: A System Dynamics Approach

Jim Lyneis writes "Corporate Planning and Policy Design: A System Dynamics Approach"

1980 - Paris Confernece

The 1980 conference in Paris was organized by Bernard Paulré and sponsored by AFCET, with presentations by J. Forrester, J. Rahn, St. Beer, R. Day, S. Des, B. Richmond. The proceedings were published the following year (B. Paulré ed. 1981: System Dynamics and the analysis of change, North Holland, with a preface by Forrester).

1981 - Introduction to System Dynamics Modeling with DYNAMO

George P. Richardson and Alexander L. Pugh III wrote "Introduction to System Dynamics Modeling with DYNAMO."

1981 - Rensselaerville Conference

The 1981 conference in Rensselaerville, NY, US, was organized by David Andersen. Jean Lebel proposed that a formal System Dynamics Society be created. At this conference, for the first time, a full session (presided by M. Karsky) was devoted to non-linear dynamics (catastrophe theory, bifurcations, etc.). Many attendants were sceptical concerning the existence and practical use of non-linear phenomena. Jay Forrester intervened with the following description:
Imagine a person in a tent. What he/she can reach in the tent is the linear world. If he/she makes a whole in the tent and puts an arm out, whatever the arm can reach is the non-linear world we know. The rest of space is the entire non-linear world we have yet to explore.

1982 - Groping in the Dark

Groping in the Dark Authors: Donella Meadows, John Richardson, Gerhart Bruckmann

1982 - Brussels Conference

The 1982 conference in Brussels was organized by Bernard Paulré (sponsored by Universities of Bruxelles, Liège and Mons, AFCET and SOGESCI) - "From physical sciences to social sciences" - 7th International Conf. on SD. Conferences by Boulding, Prigogine, R. Day, R.G. Coyle, B. Richmond and many others. Some of the papers of the Brussels conference were edited by Bernard Paulre and Peter Allen and published in a special issue of the journal Environment and Planning: Allen, P.M., B.E. Paulre eds. (1985), Special issue on new approaches in dynamical-systems modeling, Environment and Planning B-Planning & Design, 12, 1, pp. 1-3.

1983 - System Dynamics Society

In 1983, 120 delegates to the System Dynamics research conference held at Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, just outside Boston, unanimously passed a resolution affirming the creation of the System Dynamics Society and naming Jay Forrester as the first president.

1983 - First International System Dynamics Conference

The 1983 Pine Manor conference was the first conference that was organized by the System Dynamics Society. It represented the intertwining of several, untilthen, distinct conference traditions in the field of System Dynamics.

1983 - First Jay Wright Forrester Award

The Jay Wright Forrester Award was established to recognize the best contribution to the field of System Dynamics during the preceding five years. The first award was presented to Nancy H. Roberts, David F. Andersen, Ralph M. Deal, Michael S. Garet and William A. Shaffer - for Introduction to Computer Simulation (Addison Wesley, 1983).

1985 - System Dynamics Review

The System Dynamics Review (SDR) was established in 1985 and and Eric Wolstenholme became inaugural executive editor. In December of 1985, the first publication of the Review, Volume I, issues 1 & 2, was printed and mailed to approximately 587 system dynamicists around the world.

1985 - iThink/STELLA

Barry Richmond founds High Performance Systems (maker of iThink/STELLA).

1985 - Ventana Systems, Inc.

Ventana Systems, Inc. was founded in 1985 to apply modern techniques of simulation and data analysis to problems in business, economics and engineering. To learn to make realistic models of businesses and markets, the founders of Ventana studied at MIT under Professor Jay W. Forrester. To test and calibrate the models, they studied under MIT Professor Fred C. Schweppe, who had developed some of the key algorithms for making deductions about complex systems using incomplete and inaccurate data.

1986 - Fish Banks

The Fish Banks Ltd. game was developed by Professor Dennis Meadows, co-author of Limits to Growth.

1986 - Management at MIT

Thomas Watson Jr. endowed the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at MIT Sloan School of Management, held first by Michael S. Scott Morton until 2003, becoming Emeritus. John Sterman was then appointed as Chair in 2003.

1987 - James R. Killian Faculty Achievement Award

Jay Forrester received the James R. Killian Faculty Achievement Award, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

1988 - SDS Executive Director

Starting on January 1, 1988, the System Dynamics Society has, for the first time, an Executive Director. Julia Spear Pugh graciously accepted the position without remuneration. (Julia Pugh with Marg Rahn and Pål Davidsen)

1989 - National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Jay received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for computer science in 1989.

1989 - Pegasus Communications, Inc.

Colleen P. Lannon and Daniel H. Kim founded Pegasus Communications, Inc., in 1989. The name Pegasus Communications conveys the founders' belief in the power of systems thinking:
"Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology, symbolizes the union of the traditional work horse with the wings of innovation—transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary."

1989 - Jay Retired

Jay formally retired from the MIT Sloan School in 1989, an event which he said “has had no effect whatsoever on my work.”


1990 - The Fifth Discipline

Author: Peter Senge - In his book, The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge (1990) explored the relationship between System Dynamics and organizational learning, attracting a new generation of managerial interest.

1990 - First Geographic Chapters

Two System Dynamics Society Chapters form in China and Japan.

1991 - Feedback Thought in Social Science and Systems Theory

Author: George P. Richardson

1991 - PA Consulting

PA Consulting Group acquires both Pugh-Roberts Management Simulation Group and the Technology Management Group.

1991 - First Systems Thinking Conference

The first Systems Thinking conference is held in Cambridge, drawing an audience of 150 people. Pegasus offered the first Systems Thinking in Action® conference in 1991 and has continued, without interruption, until now. The company has also hosted smaller events and offered training opportunities over the years.

1991 - Creative Learning Exchange

The Creative Learning Exchange was founded as a non-profit in 1991 to encourage the development of systems citizens who use systems thinking and System Dynamics to meet the interconnected challenges that face them at personal, community, and global levels.

1992 - Beyond the Limits

Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse Envisioning a Sustainable Future. Author: Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis L. Meadows. The original authors of The Limits to Growth redid the study in preparation for the twentieth anniversary of the book's publication. The results were published in a book titled Beyond the Limits.

1993 - Management Science

John Sterman was appointed as associate editor in the simulation department of Management Science, one of the top journals in the field of modeling and management.

1994 - Genius Award

Dana Meadows received the coveted "Genius Award" from MacArthur Foundation.

1995 - First SD Degree Programs in Europe

In 1995, the University of Bergen Masters and PhD program became the first System Dynamics degree program offered in Europe.

1996 - Chapters & SIGs

The formal request for Italian Chapter was posted on October 2, 1995, by Habib Sedehi (President and Italian representative of the group). The SDS approved the proposal at the annual Policy Council meeting in February 1996.

1997 - Roberta Spencer, 2nd Executive Director and SDS Home Office Moves

In January of 1997, Roberta Spencer started as Executive Director for the System Dynamics Society. The SDS moved to Albany in the same year. (In the Picture: Roberta Spencer and Jack Pugh)

1997 - Lifetime Service Recognition Award

Lifetime Service Recognition Award given to Alexander "Jack" Pugh, III (Formalized and renamed the Outstanding Service Award in 2009.)

1998 - First Full Undergraduate Degree

SDS celebrated this year as the founding of the first full undergraduate degree in System Dynamics at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

1998 -Lifetime Achievement Award

Lifetime AchievementAward established to recognize people for making a significant contribution to a field or a practice over an extended period of time; based on a body of work done over lifetime and not on a single article. First given to R. Geoffrey Coyle (Formalized in 2012) (Pictured left to right: George Richardson, Geoff Coyle and Julie Coyle)

1999 - Modeling the Environment

Modeling the Environment: An Introduction to System Dynamics Modeling of Environmental System Author: Frederick Andrew Ford

1999 - Chapters & SIGs

UK, Australia, and New Zealand Chapters of the System Dynamics Society were formed.


2000 - Business Dynamics

Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World with CD-ROM 2000 Author: John Sterman

2000 - First PhD Colloquium

First PhD Colloquium held in Bergen Norway prior to the Society's annual conference.

2000 - Chapters & SIGs

The South Korea Chapter of the System Dynamics Society was formed.

2001 - Dana Meadows Award

Society's Dana Meadows Award established to recognize the very best conference paper by a student and to honor the life and work of Dana Meadows. (in the photo: Allan Boorstein with the First Dana Meadows Prize Winner Hazhir Rahmandad)

2001 - Fish Banks

The Fish Banks Ltd. game was developed by Professor Dennis Meadows, co-author of Limits to Growth.

2002 - First Special Interest Group (SIG)

Education SIG started to work as the first Special Interest Group within the System Dynamics Society

2002 - Chapters & SIGs

Student, Latina America, Hellenic, and Egypt Chapters of the System Dynamics Society were formed.

2003 - The Last D-Memo

The last D-memo on the DVD disk is Jay's D-4886-1 of July 21, 2003, “Economic Theory for the New Millennium” presented at the 2003 International System Dynamics Conference.

2003 - Management at MIT

John D. Sterman appointed the Jay W. Forrester Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

2003 - Chapters & SIGs

Security, Health Policy, Environmental Dynamics SIGs and Brazil Chapter of the System Dynamics Society were formed.

2004 - Limits to Growth: the 30-Year Update

Authors: Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis L. Meadows

2004 - Chapters & SIGs

Swiss and Economics Chapters of the System Dynamics Society were formed.

2005 -1000 Membership Milestone Reached!

System Dynamics Society membership grows to 1,000.

2005 - Chapters & SIGs

The Business SIG was formed in 2005. In this same year, Russian and Pakistan Chapters of the System Dynamics Society were also formed.

2006 - Operational Research Hall of Fame

Jay W. Forrester was inducted into the International Federation of OR Societies' Operational Research Hall of Fame.

2007 - 50th Anniversary

The 50th Anniversary of the founding of the field of System Dynamics was celebrated at the 25th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society in Boston, Massachusetts USA

2007 - System Dyamics Applications Award

The System Dynamics Application Award established to honor the best “real world” applications of System Dynamics. First given to Vince Barabba, Chet Huber, Fred Cooke, Nick Pudar, Jim Smith, and Mark Paich for “A Multimethod Approach for Creating New Business Models: The General Motors OnStar Project”.

2007 - Chapters & SIGs

Germany Chapter of the System Dynamics Society was formed in 2007.

2007 - Barry Richmond Award

The Barry Richmond Scholarship Award was established by isee systems to honor and continue the legacy of its founder, Barry Richmond. The first award was presented to Margaria Cruz by Kathy Richmond and Joanne Egner.

2008 - Lupina Young Researchers Award

Sponsored by the Lupina Foundation of Toronto, Canda, the Health Policy Special Interest Group (HPSIG) of the Society established the Lupina Young Researchers Awar to recognize and encourage people at early stages of their careers in health System Dynamics. The first Award was given to Hyunjung Kim, and Jennifer Headley, Holly Rockweiler, and Aqeela Jogee.

2009 - Chapters & SIGs

Psychology and Human Behavior Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed in 2009.

2009 - Outstanding Service Award

The Society's Outstanding Service Award recognizes individuals that have, on a volunteer basis, made exceptional contributions to the Society over an extended period of time. The first Outstanding Service Award was given to Andrew Ford. (Previously known as the Lifetime Service Recognition Award.)


2010 - European Master in System Dynamics (EMSD)

In August 2010, the European Master in System Dynamics was officially opened in Bergen, Norway. The EMSD program is the first multi-national degree programme worldwide offered in System Dynamics.

2010 - Chapters & SIGs

The India Chapter of the System Dynamics Society was formed.

2011 - Edelman Award Competition

Ken Cooper, Greg Lee, and colleagues were recognized by INFORMS as finalists in the 2011 Edelman Award competition for their application of System Dynamics to improve project management at Fluor Corporation.

2011 - Chapters & SIGs

Benelex Chapter of the System Dynamics Society was formed in 2011. Conflict, Defense, and Security Special Interest Group was formed in this same year.

2012 - Film Documentary on The Limits to Growth

Documentary filmmaker Enrico Cerasuolo and his team started to make a documentary about the story of The Limits to Growth, from its birth until its deep relevance today.

2012 - Chapters & SIGs

The BioMedical SIG and the Canada Chapter of the System Dynamics Society were formed in 2012.

2013 - First Virtual Issue of System Dynamics Review

The System Dynamics Society published the first virtual issue of the System Dynamics Review. The first special issue was edited by David Ford and James Lyneis on “Application of System Dynamics to Project Management.” In addition to a brief introduction by the editors, this issue offers a direct link to nine papers in the System Dynamics Review as well as a full bibliography of other resources related to the topic.

2014 - First Asia Pacific Conference

First Asia Pacific Conference in Tokyo, Japan.

2015 - Chapters & SIGs

Iran Chapter of the System Dynamics Society was formed.

2015 - NASBA CPE for CPAs

SDS registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accounting (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors.

2016 - Jay W. Forrester (1918 – 2016)

On November 16, 2016, Jay W. Forrester, the founder of System Dynamics, died at the age of 98.

2016 - Chapters & SIGs

Asset Dynamics, Transporation, Agriculture & Food SIGs were formed in 2016.

2017 – The 60th Anniversary

2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the field of System Dynamics. It is thus fitting that the 60th anniversary conference was held in Cambridge, next to the MIT campus where Jay Forrester developed the field.
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