An "unofficial" history of the organization written by a founding member, Andrew Graham:
PIRA News, Vol 9 No.5.
The very, very, first unofficial meeting of physics support persons was at the Maryland meeting 1984 when seven of us went out to lunch. We began discussing our problems, salaries (I discovered I was the lowest paid of all at $10,042 per year), and needs. We discovered that most of us had the same problems, the difference was a matter of scaling. We also discovered that there was a lot of reinventing the wheel going on; problems being encountered by some had been solved by others. It was obvious the missing element was communication, and organization. Present in those days were John Davis, Dick Berg, Phil Johnson, John Malone (?), Brian Holton (?), and myself (?), and other(s)...maybe it was more than seven...Chris Roddy (?), Leif Shaver(?). The first paper session was organized by John Davis for the Flagstaff meeting in 1985. About 25 physics support people attended. The formation of an organization began at an ad hoc meeting in Smith Hall, room 2150, 1:00pm, June 26, 1986, at campus of the University of Ohio at Columbus. Phil presented the first charter to the 26 people attending. The charter contained a request to the AAPT for affiliate status. (The executive board of AAPT, Dr. Tony French President, had attended our paper session that morning to be present when Phil took the floor to announce the charter meeting, in a show of support). The charter was approved, and officers were elected: John Davis President, B.T. Linder Vice-President, Phil Johnson Secretary/Treasurer, Andy Graham Newsletter Editor, Leif Shaver Bulletin Board Coordinator, Brian Holton Session Coordinator, Chris Roddy Representative to the Apparatus Committee. Until the Bozeman meeting in 1987 the organization operated under the name Physics Support Association.
The name Physics Instructional Resource Association was adopted at that meeting. The newsletter began in October of 1986 after the Flagstaff meeting. Brett Carroll was Demonstration Editor, and I was the Laboratory Editor. The Newsletter was printed and mailed from the Physics Department at the University of Washington for the first year (they picked up the printing and postage). In 1986 the AAPT agreed to print and mail the Newsletter. That lasted several years, and then Appalachian State, College of Arts and Sciences paid for awhile. Then it became self supporting. In closing (audience yawns)......there are lots of people that we owe a debt of gratitude for getting us started, many were officers of AAPT, Tony French, Howard Voss, Jack Wilson, Donald Holcomb, Walter Eppenstein. There are two people that really made it happen .... Phil Johnson and Robert Beck Clark (Texas A&M, former AAPT president). Had it not been for them it would not have made it off the ground.