Gamma Epsilon Tau was organized in 1953 in New York City at the Annual Conference on Printing Education, sponsored by the International Graphic Arts Education Association. A group of printing Xi Omicron Pi brothers from the University of California at Santa Barbara collaborated with another group on the East Coast to make up what would eventually become known as Gamma Epsilon Tau. The need for people qualified to handle constant changes and developments in printing technology arose, especially when electronics and automation were introduced. The IGAEA was very receptive to the idea since more and more schools were establishing graphic arts curriculum and the need for qualified people could be fulfilled easier with the establishment of a society or club from which those people could be chosen.

The name Gamma Epsilon Tau originated from the ancient Greek language with Gamma meaning letter, literature, or alphabet; Epsilon meaning science or knowledge; and Tau meaning art and craft. So, Gamma Epsilon Tau means "The science or knowledge of the art and craft of letters."

The first three chapters of Gamma Epsilon Tau were organized with two on the West Coast and one on the East. The Alpha chapter was located at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The Beta chapter was located at Harbor College in Los Angeles and the Gamma chapter was located at the New York City Community College of Applied Arts and Sciences in Brooklyn, New York. Of the three founding chapters, Gamma chapter remains in existence. On October 26, 1955, thirty printing students at the Rochester Institute of Technology were initiated into the Brother/ Sisterhood now known as the Zeta Chapter.

The Epsilon Chapter has three goals, which are stated in the Constitution:

  1. (A) Establishing Brother/Sisterhood among those who are willing to work toward the preservation and furtherance of the Graphic Arts
  2. (B) Preserving and furthering the Graphic Arts by continuing to progress in all areas of printing and Graphic Communications
  3. (C) Broadening individuals through a constant search for greater knowledge

Gamma Epsilon Tau is comprised of members from graduate and undergraduate Graphic Arts programs and colleges, technical institutes, and universities recognized by the Fraternity for their academic record who are willing to participate in the activities of the chapter and who possess conviction and good moral character. The Fraternity is organized according to the standards that each chapter sets for itself. The first national headquarters for Gamma Epsilon Tau was located in Washington, D.C. and was sponsored by the International Graphic Arts Education Association from 1953 to 1960. In 1961, the headquarters was moved to the Zeta Chapter at Rochester Institute of Technology and then to the Gamma Chapter at New York Community College in 1962. The headquarters was relocated to RIT where it remains today.