The IEEE is a "scientific and educational" not for profit organisation, "directed toward the advancement of the theory and practice of Electrical,Electronics, Communications and Computer Engineering, as well as Computer Science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences"
The IEEE has about 425,000 members in about 160 countries, slightly less than half of whom reside in the United States. The South African Section has around 1200 members and many subsections.
It was formed in 1963 by the merger of the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE, founded 1912) and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE, founded 1884).
Notable presidents of IEEE and its founding organizations include Elihu Thomson (AIEE, 1889–1890), Alexander Graham Bell (AIEE, 1891–1892), Charles Proteus Steinmetz (AIEE, 1901–1902), Lee De Forest (IRE, 1930), Frederick E. Terman (IRE, 1941), William R. Hewlett (IRE, 1954), Ernst Weber (IRE, 1959; IEEE, 1963), and Ivan Getting (IEEE, 1978).