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The history of SPA

The Object-Oriented Programming & Systems (OOPS) Specialist Group (SG), the forerunner of the SPA SG, was created in 1985 to provide a forum for the increasing number of researchers and practitioners interested in object technology. It is widely accepted that the OOPS SG played a major role in the adoption of object technology by industry in the UK and beyond. The group was renamed to SPA in April 2004.

The founding fathers of OOPS were Steve Cook, Bruce Anderson and Ralph Hodgson. Together they set out to create events that broke new ground in learning techniques.

Although the SG has always had a strong technology focus, its ethos has always stressed the importance of learning by participating (rather than passive listening) and of taking time to reflect on what is being learnt. As object technology became mainstream so the significance of the OOPS name was reduced, leading eventually to the change in name for the group.

The Object Technology conference, the forerunner of the current SPA annual conference, was established in 1993 as an extension to the day meetings offered by the SG. OT93 was held at Jesus College, Cambridge, and OT94 to OT2002 were held at Christ Church, Oxford. Between 2003 and 2006 the conference was held at the Robinson College Executive Centre in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. The conference pioneered many new ways of working that focused on participation and reflection. In particular, it is responsible for popularising the Goldfish Bowl style of disciplined group discussion. Many other conferences around the world - especially PLoP and Agile Development - have adopted ideas from SPA.