• Celebrating our first five decades

    The photo at right shows construction of the Mesa Laboratory, headquarters of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, in the early 1960s. The laboratory was completed in 1966.

    > click orange arrow at right to continue slide show

  • Aircraft Instrumentation

    In 1968, research on small-scale air motion leaps forward with data from an internal navigation system that helps aircraft orient themselves in space. Through a nose-mounted probe adapted by Donald Lenschow (NCAR) and Jim Telford (Desert Research Institute), air flow in all directions was measured and correlated to heat, moisture, and other variables.

  • Computer Modeling, circa 1965

    Installation of a CDC 3600 computer from Control Data Corporation begins in 1965. Though extremely limited by today's standards, the machine allowed NCAR and university scientists to carry out some of the first modeling of long-term global circulation.

  • New Visualization Laboratory

    In 1988, a new visualization laboratory helped scientist depict their results in three-dimensional, animated form. Meanwhile, the NCAR graphics program, developed earlier in the decade, broadens its user base with a UNIX-compatible version.

  • The Climate Simulation Model debuts

    CSM debuts 1996. NCAR releases the first version of its Climate System Model. Years in the making, the CSM (later the Community Climate System Model) provides universities with one of the most comprehensive models of the global atmosphere available. Major simulations of 20th and 21st century climate are completed before the decade is out.

This website features video from major events, an interactive photo timeline, and links to feature articles chronicling NCAR and UCAR history from 1960 to 2010.


UCAR Members Meeting

Experienced and early-career faculty representing UCAR's member universities share their thoughts and memories in these short video interviews, gathered in October 2009.
video camera icon  50th Anniversary Remembrances

Public Talks - Boulder Public Library Series

Five lively talks by NCAR and UCAR staff put emerging topics in solar, weather, and climate research in perspective.
video camera icon  Public Library Lecture Series



A showcase highlighting more than five decades in the lives of our people, science, and facilities, as captured by our skilled photographers.
small camera icon  50th Anniversary History Timeline

Historic Photo Collection

Over 100 images from our earliest days are now available for download within the "History" category of this free online resource.
small camera icon  UCAR Digital Image Library - History

Time Capsule

A gift to future staff to be opened in 2035, providing a 2010 snapshot of how we conduct science, what we know about Earth and our environment, and how we use scientific tools to make future predictions.
Time Capsule for 2035 | Archive Exhibits Page


Congressional Record of the United States of America

United States House of Representatives, March 24, 2010
Representative Jared Polis congratulates NCAR on its 50th Anniversary
Windows Media Video | Congressional Record - PDF

UCAR President Richard Anthes

Anthes kicked off the year of celebrations on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of UCAR as a nonprofit corporation, March 16, 2009.
Anthes Kickoff Letter

More Anniversaries

NCAR's High Altitude Observatory

Walter Orr Roberts brought HAO with him when he took the helm of UCAR and NCAR. The observatory Roberts founded celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2010.
History of HAO

UCAR's Unidata Program

Unidata began providing and coordinating data services, tools, and cyberinfrastructure for the Earth system science community in 1984.
Unidata's 25th anniversary (webcasts available)

UCAR's COMET Program

In 1990, UCAR and the National Weather Service established the COMET Program to promote a better understanding of mesoscale meteorology and to maximize the benefits of new weather technologies.
COMET's 20th anniversary



50th Anniversary Logo


cover of UCAR at 50Publications

UCAR at 50 (September 2010)
The 50th anniversary report of UCAR and NCAR, with retrospectives and prospects
for the future.


Staff Notes - 50th anniversary series (May–December 2010)

Staff Notes logo      •  In their own words
      •  The Blue Book that started it all
      •  Then and now
      •  The Mesa Lab: What might have been
      •  The lighter side of science
      •  Did you know that . . .
      •  Delphi: A record of what’s on our minds
      •  Times and tastes

About our celebrations

Members Meeting & Celebration (November 2010)
UCAR Magazine

Open House, Staff Party (June 2010)
Staff Notes

More history

UCAR & NCAR – Our History