Antarctica boasts one of the world's harshest environments. Since the earliest expeditions, a major challenge has been to characterize the surface meteorology around the continent. In 1980, the University of Wisconsin—Madison (UW-Madison) took over the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) Automatic Weather Station (AWS) program. Since then, the UW-Madison AWS network has aided in the understanding of unique Antarctic weather and climate. This paper summarizes the development of the UW-Madison AWS network, issues related to instrumentation and data quality, and some of the ways these observations have and continue to benefit scientific investigations and operational meteorology.