The process of finding a mutually acceptable time when a group of people can meet is frustrating and time-consuming. Just the sort of thing that is best left to a computer.
Group scheduling and calendaring systems help to automate the process. The people concerned must each maintain an electronic calendar, and the scheduling system finds suitably available slots.
Group scheduling systems are typically very closely integrated with email systems. As they evolved, group scheduling systems typically included the ability to schedule shared meeting resources, such as conference rooms and display equipment.
We are not clear when the first group scheduling system was deployed; the museum’s best guess is 1978. IBM’s highly successful PROFS email system, available in 1981, included group scheduling, as did Digital’s ALL-IN-1.
As of 2012, group scheduling is still a problem. Standards have been defined to allow different group scheduling systems to work with each other. But the definition and implementation of the standards has proved surprisingly difficult. Perhaps by 2020 we’ll have good group scheduling and calendaring interoperability.-–David Ferris