Society History

Oct 1946
M.I.T. Radiation Laboratory Series

Early Microwave Developments

In order to appreciate the importance of the MTT Society, one has to go back to the period between the end of World War II and the formation of the Society to understand what the situation was in our profession. Up through World War II, and for several years thereafter, most of the microwave work that was going on was done first for the war effort, then for the Defense Department, and, as a result, was highly classified. The word "microwave" was rarely seen in print until the late forties-early fifties, and although people talked about high frequencies, many had no concept of how high in frequency the microwave range extended.

Shortly after the war ended, a number of microwave publications became available, in particular the historical M.I.T. Radiation Laboratory Series. Articles on the technology began to appear in the Proceedings of the IRE and also in Electronics magazine. There was also an occasional article in some of the publications of the American Institute of Physics and the AIEE, but there were really no places where a microwave engineer could go to find articles on his favorite subject. He had to wait for them to appear.

Jan 1948
National Electronics Museum

National Electronics Museum

To learn more about the history of US defense electronics (including microwave theory and techniques), visit the National Electronics Museum or go to this link.

From telegraph and radio to radar and satellites, the National Electronics Museum offers visitors free access to the electronic marvels that have helped to shape our world.

Mar 1951
IRE Convention

IRE Involvement

Most of the microwave people knew each other. They were all more or less familiar with the companies that were doing business in the field. In those days, the big event of the year for technical people was the IRE Convention, which was held in the spring in New York every year. I worked for Microwave Development Laboratories at the time, and about 1948 we took a booth at the IRE show and set up our display of microwave components. Our first IRE show was in the Grand Central Palace Building on Lexington Avenue, next to Grand Central Station. The purpose of the IRE Convention at the time was to have technical meetings. The exhibits were an attachment to those technical meetings. Many of us who were active in microwaves at the time would go to the IRE Convention and attend all of the meetings relative to microwaves. We would also visit other companies in the exhibit hall. There was usually a cocktail party and sometimes a formal dinner for attendees.

The Convention provided an opportunity for microwave people to get together, since most of us were members of the IRE at the time.

In 1948, the IRE recognized the need for forming smaller, more compact groups on the basis of professional interest. In March of that year, they adopted the Professional Group principle of operation. In 1951, at the National Convention in New York,", Ben Warriner IV, who was a microwave engineer with General Precision Laboratories in Pleasantville, NY, had a discussion with Larry Cummings, who was the IRE Technical Secretary, on the possibility of promoting a Professional Group for Microwave Electronics.

Although there was a lack of enthusiasm at headquarters, Ben circulated a letter dated July 9, 1951 to a group that he addressed as "members of the IRE interested in forming a professional group for microwave electronics."

Mar 1952
Professional Groups Committee

Formal Group for Microwaves within IRE

Included with the letter was a petition for the formation of the group. The letter stated a concern for possible conflicts with the group on antennas and a possible conflict with the group on instrumentation. He was able to get a sufficient number of distinguished workers in the field to sign the petition.

That original petition stated that the scope of the group, if approved, would "encompass microwave theory, microwave circuitry and techniques, microwave measurements and microwave tubes." The scope would also include" scientific, technical, industrial, or other areas that contribute to the field of interest, or to utilize techniques or products of the field where necessary to advance the art and science in the field, subject, as the art develops, to additions, subtractions, or other modifications directed or approved by the Institute Committee on Professional Groups."

There was no problem in getting enough people to sign the original petition, and the group was approved on March 7, 1952, by the Professional Groups Committee of the IRE.

May 1952
The First Committee

The First Committee

The members of the first committee, which had its first meeting on May 1, 1952, included Ben Warriner as Chairman, Andre Clavier as Vice Chairman, and Bill Mumford as Secretary-Treasurer. The other members of the committee included Paul Coleman, Don King, Harry Marvin, Joe McCann, George Rosselot, Harald Schutz, and George Southworth.

By January 1953, the group had a total membership of 942, of whom 471 had paid their dues. The annual dues at that time was $2. The first symposium was held in New York City, on November 7, 1952, at the Western Union Auditorium. Attendance at the symposium was 210 people. Ten papers were presented.

In that first year, one issue of the TRANSACTIONS was published. It consisted of 48 pages and was made up of 13 articles and one abstract. Before going too far, and to avoid confusion, let me explain that our Society, which started as a Professional Group, has gone through a number of minor changes. Starting as a Professional Group, it become a Professional Technical Group as a result of the merger with AIEE (which MIT-S opposed); this was later simplified to Group, then later to Society for reasons which I still don't clearly understand.

Sep 1953
AdCom members tradition

Continuing Tradition

I became a member of the AdCom in its second year and attended my first meeting on September 3, 1953. The meeting was held at IRE Headquarters, which in those days was in a very handsome mansion on 1 East 79th Street, in New York City, across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we would occasionally go for lunch.

Since I was comparatively inexperienced and fairly young at the time, it was both exciting and frightening to sit in a room with Dr. Clavier, Bill Mumford, Dr. Southworth, and the other members of that distinguished committee. Fortunately, Henry Jasik and Harald Schutz were old friends, and that kept me from doing anything precipitous like running out of the room.

In those early days, our meetings would take perhaps half a day. Occasionally, they would have to be extended into the afternoon. Normally, they would start at 10:00 a.m. and we would finish at lunchtime, but occasionally they would go beyond that and we would come back to the mansion on 79th Street and finish up our work.

For a while, it was difficult to get AdCom members to take the whole operation seriously. Although a number of people were named to the Committee each year, there was always a small nucleus who carried on most of the activities.

This usually consisted in those early days of Dr. Clavier, Bill Mumford, Al Beck, Herb Engleman, Don King, and Dr. Southworth. Fortunately, in 1955, five new dynamic members were added to the AdCom, including Seymour Cohn, Art Oliner, Bill Pritchard, Kiyo Tomiyasu, and Harold Wheeler. All five of these people became active AdCom members and contributed to the growth and strength of the Committee. Four went on to become AdCom Chairman. Three became Honorary Life Members. Four won the Microwave Career Award.

Perhaps dating from that fifth AdCom, it became easier to find good, qualified, dedicated people. In fact, the problem quickly became one of trying to select the best of an outstanding slate of candidates, a problem that, happily, still exists. Another problem that had to be dealt with was having some AdCom members being constantly re-elected to the Committee. And in addition, there were those who were not re-elected, but who were still sufficiently interested to want to remain involved in other ways. The whole scene has been and continues to be both fortunate and healthy.

Both a reason for the existence of the AdCom and a foundation of its success is the publication of the Transactions.

Back to Top