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The idea of the foundation of the Society has been raised at the First International Symposium on Inventories (held in Hotel Hilton, Budapest, September 1-5, 1980). An International Organizing Committee was formed to examine the possibility of establishing the Society. At the Second Symposium (held at the same location) ISIR had its founding meeting, on August 26, 1982. The founding President was Kenneth J. Arrow (who is now Honorary President). The first issue of the Newsletter was published in August, 1983, and it is published every 3-4 months. Till 2001 altogether 52 issues were published. General Assembly meetings were held at the time of the International Symposia taken place biannually in Budapest.

Main events

Besides the symposia a number of workshops, conferences and other meetings were organized by ISIR, individually and jointly with organizations such as the Econometric Society, the American Economic Association, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, GRD College of Science in Coimbatore, India and the Siena University in Italy and the University of Aarhus, Denmark.

ISIR sessions were organized at the conferences of the Allied Social Sciences Association, the ISATA and the European Operations Research Society. Three workshops were held together with SEMECON (Seminar for Mathematical Economics) within the project Cyclical Growth in Market and Planned Economies, Munich in 1985 and at Lake Balaton in 1986 and 1988.

A major project was initiated by ISIR on inventory problems in developing countries that had its focus on food security policies in general and food inventories in particular. Connected to this project workshops were held in Hungary in 1989 and 1990. International Conference and workshop was organized under the title ?Food Problems in Developing Countries and the Contribution of R&D to Their Solution? in Israel, in 1990.

North American Conference was held in 1987 jointly with Wesleyan University to honor Thomson M. Whitin.

The first ISIR Summer School on Inventory Modelling was held in Leipzig, Germany in 1993. Since then similar summer schools have been organized biannually (1995: Portoroz, Slovenia, 1997: Ioannina, Greece, 1999: Exeter, United Kingdom,2001: Loftahammar, Sweden; 2003: Eindhoven, The Netherlands; 2005:  Mannheim, Germany; 2007: Brescia, Italy; 2009:  Katowice, Poland).

A two-day workshop was organized at Lake Balaton in Hungary in August 1994 on Micro Foundations of Macroeconomic Analysis of Inventories.

Graduate student competitions have been announced biannually since 1993 in various fields of inventory related research.