This article explores the history of atomic layer deposition (ALD) and its relationship with the American Vacuum Society (AVS). The authors describe the origin and history of ALD science in the 1960s and 1970s. They also report on how the science and technology of ALD progressed through the 1990s and 2000s and continues today. This article focuses on how ALD developed within the AVS and continues to evolve through interactions made possible by the AVS, in particular, the annual International AVS ALD Conference. This conference benefits students, academics, researchers, and industry practitioners alike who seek to understand the fundamentals of self-limiting, alternating binary surface reactions, and how they can be applied to form functional (and sometimes profitable) thin film materials. The flexible structure of the AVS allowed the AVS to quickly organize the ALD community and create a primary conference home. Many new research areas have grown out of the original concepts of "Atomic Layer Epitaxy" and "Molecular Layering," and some of them are described in this article. The people and research in the ALD field continue to evolve, and the AVS ALD Conference is a primary example of how the AVS can help a field expand and flourish. © 2013 American Vacuum Society.