Optical activities in the Huntsville area have been driven primarily by government and industrial requirements. These requirements were formulated largely by the Army, R&D work at Redstone Arsenal. They were expanded with the establishment of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in the early 1960s. Local optical activity expanded rapidly, in step with the space program. By 1969, the optical community in Huntsville formed a significant part of the available technical resources. This fact was formalized on October 20, 1969, when the Optical Society of America voted to recognize the Huntsville section of OSA. The first section president was Charles L. Wyman. The organization was large and active from the beginning. Within a few months of recognition, there were 175 individual members, many working in advanced areas of optical research and development, and nine corporate members. Within six months of recognition, the section was holding an all-day symposium. Recently this organization joined with SPIE to form the Electro-Optical Section and Working Group in Huntsville.