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The series of symposia known as the International Symposium on Electronic Art was initiated in 1988 in order to support the founding and maintenance of an international network of organisations and individuals active in the field of the electronic arts.

This network took the shape of an association, founded in 1990 in The Netherlands, called the Inter-Society for the Electronic Arts. The Board and membership of ISEA has always been international, bringing together individuals and organisations from around the world. From the founding of ISEA until 1996 the organisation was based in the Netherlands. From 1996 to 2001, ISEA headquarters was based in Montréal, Canada. After a period of a provisional HQ again in the Netherlands, in 2008 a new Headquarters was established at the University of Brighton, United Kingdom. The Inter-Society existed for over 15 years as a membership organisation and in 2009 ISEA was changed from the association to a foundation called “ISEA International” in order to better serve its mission.

The organisation is now managed by the ISEA International foundation board, whose main role is to select the host city of each symposium. The foundation board works closely with the host to ensure that the goals of ISEA are achieved. Historically the symposia were held as both a biennial and annual event. As of 2009, the symposium has been held annually again.