IEEE Communications Society History
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The "roots" of the IEEE Communications Society extend back to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) which was founded in 1884, and the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) which was formed in 1912. These formed the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) on January 1, 1963.
AIEE (American Institute of Electrical Engineers)
The original fields of interest of AIEE were electrical communications and power engineering. Electronics engineering evolved from the radio field and expanded greatly during World War II, overlapping into the communications and (to a lesser extent) the power fields. Methods were developed to foster cooperation and interchange of information among members of each of the original Institutes with their narrow common interests. The AIEE formed "Divisions" with "Communications" as one major entity. No special organization was chartered, although separate Technical Committees (TCs) reviewed papers for, and conducted sessions at broad-based AIEE Conferences. Most of these papers were later published in the AIEE Transactions.
IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers)
During the same era, IRE began organizing specialized Professional Groups (PGs) each with a common interest. The Professional Group on Communications Systems (PGCS) was formed in 1952, producing its own Transactions the following year. PGCS sponsored sessions at major IRE conferences and conventions, and developed its own special conferences. The first such conference was the Aeronautical Communications Symposium, AEROCOM, held for four years in the Rome-Utica, New York area. Renamed the National Communications Symposium, NATCOM, it continued for another five years ending in 1963. Meanwhile, cooperation with the AIEE Communications Division had developed, and a series of joint National Symposiums on Global Communications, GLOBECOMs, were held at various U.S. sites.
IEEE ComTech Group
On July 1, 1964, 18 months after IEEE was formed, the AIEE Communications Division and the IRE PGCS merged to form the IEEE Group on Communication Technology (ComTech) with 4400 members. Seven former AIEE Technical Committees continued operations under the new Group, with former IRE members joining the TCs that focused on their particular interests. A new TC on Communication System Disciplines - Communication Systems Engineering - was formed by ComTech members with special systems interests. The TCs reviewed papers for a new IEEE Transactions On Communication Technology (distributed free to all members), and they organized and moderated papers sessions at various conferences.
The ComTech Group sponsored the Seventh GLOBECOM in 1965, calling it the First Annual IEEE Communications Convention. The following year it was renamed the 1966 IEEE International Conference on Communications (ICC) and it has continued annually ever since. ICC is held in late spring or early summer, and in 1984 went overseas for the first time (to Amsterdam). The ComTech Group also took a major role in technical sessions at the general IEEE International Conventions and the National Electronics Conference (NEC) held annually in Chicago. When the latter was canceled suddenly in 1971, ComTech joined the IEEE Chicago Section in co-sponsoring a one-time Fall Electronics Conference (FEC) that proved to be successful.
IEEE Communications Society Founded
During that Fall Electronics Conference meeting, the Administrative Committee of ComTech approved a petition to IEEE seeking elevation to Society status. The request was granted, and the IEEE Communications Society began operations on January 1, 1972, with just over 8000 regular and 800 student members. The key officers of the directing body--a Board of Governors-- are elected by the Society's general membership, replacing the previously self-perpetuating Administrative Committee. A list of current officers is published in our magazines.
Earlier, ComTech had been sponsoring the annual IEEE National Telemetering Conference (NTC). Interest in this area was declining, however, while the need for a second annual communications conference was becoming evident. Thus, the Telemetering Conference became the IEEE National Telecommunications Conference (still called NTC) in 1972. In 1982, the conference was expanded to international scope, becoming the IEEE Global Communications Conference, with the earlier GLOBECOM acronym revived. This conference continued to thrive and, in 1987, was held overseas for the first time, in Tokyo. Since then, GLOBECOM has been held in Singapore, London, Sydney and in Rio de Janeiro in 1999.
The Telemetering Technical Committee was discontinued in 1974--our first great loss--but two new Technical Committees were added at the same time. A number of other TCs started operations in the ensuing years, each with a specific field of interest. Several Technical Committees have changed their titles and scopes during the years--some more than once--due to expanding and changing interests. The list of Technical Committees and their Chairs are printed in Society publications.
Transactions and Journals
Since 1972, the new IEEE Transactions on Communications, with vigorous leadership, quickly developed a premier position among technical journals, with its own indepen-dent editorial board. Within a few years its frequency of publication went from quarterly to bimonthly to monthly, with special issues being featured from the start.
An additional publication, the IEEE Journal on Selected Areas in Communications, was "spun-off" in 1982. It soon went from quarterly to a nine-issues-per-year distribution and became a monthly publication in 1999 with the addition of the Wireless Communications Series. In 2002 the WCS became the IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, published quarterly.
In 1982, Transactions and the Journal were "unbundled" from the dues structure and made available to the membership at moderate subscription rates, thereby keeping the basic dues to a minimum. Both periodicals are, of course, offered to the technical public at a higher, non-member rate, the proceeds providing a substantial portion of the financial base of the Society.
In 1993, the IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking, was introduced, and in 1996, another new publication appeared - IEEE Communications Letters. The latest addition to this impressive list of technical journals is IEEE Communications Surveys & Tutorials, the Society's first electronically published journal started in 1996.
IEEE Communications Magazine
The original IRE PGCS (Professional Group Communications Systems) Newsletter evolved into the IEEE ComTech Newsletter (offered free to members) which then became the IEEE Communications Society Newsletter. In 1975 the Newsletter was expanded into IEEE Communications Magazine with the addition of general technical interest features, the cost being partially subsidized by advertising. Two years later, the magazine was offered to the general public (non-members) by subscription. It became a monthly publication in 1983. In 1994, the "Global Communications Newsletter" was initiated as a regular feature of Communications Magazine.
In 1997, the magazine went online with IEEE Communications Interactive.
In 2008, the magazine editor introduced a new column titled 'History of Communications', edited by Mischa Schwartz.
IEEE Network--The Magazine of Global Information Exchange was first published by the Communications Society in 1987 and soon became self-sustaining. It is issued on a bimonthly basis, as is IEEE Personal Communications (now IEEE Wireless Communications), which first appeared in 1994. The Communications Society also technically co-sponsors, with other IEEE Societies, additional publications offered to members at special rates. These include IEEE Internet Computing, IEEE Multimedia Magazine, IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity, IEEE/OSA Journal of Lightwave Technology, IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, IEEE Pervasive Computing, IEEE Sensors Journal, IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, and others.
All ComSoc publications (magazines and journals) have been available online since 1998. An Electronic Periodicals Package (EPP) of ComSoc publications now provides an all-electronic access alternative to print subscriptions at a moderate rate. ComSoc e-News, an electronic newsletter, was initiated in 1998 and is distributed to all ComSoc members who have listed e-mail addresses.
IEEE Communications Society Web Site
In 1996, ComSoc developed an independent web site permitting global access to ComSoc information. Society news, publications, conferences, information on standards, and electronic initiatives can be found easily. The site is updated frequently and includes e-mail contacts for ComSoc officers and staff.
Each major conference sponsored by the Society publishes a Conference Record printed in advance and distributed to conference attendees. These "proceedings" contain copies of every paper presented at the meeting, and are in demand by Technical Libraries and people unable to attend the conference. Proceeds from the sale of the extra copies help with meeting expenses, and surplus funds are divided among the conference sponsors. Several conference proceedings are now available in CD-ROM format.
The Communications Society began sponsoring the publication of books by IEEE Press in 1975, when four books were released. This has continued, with contributions each year and with noted Communications Society members serving as authors and editors.
In addition to ICC and GLOBECOM, the Communications Society sponsors MILCOM--Military Communications Conference--which began in 1982; and NOMS--Network Operations Management Symposium--initiated in 1987. Through the years the Communications Society has also picked up co-sponsorship of other major conferences: INFOCOM-Conference on Computer Communications; IM--International Symposium on Integrated Network Management (formerly ISINM); WCNC--Wireless Communications & Networking Conference (formerly ICUPC); International Phoenix Conference on Computers and Communications (IPCCC), Optical Fiber Communications Conference (OFC), etc. Additionally, between 1990 and 1998 ICC collocated with Supercomm in alternating years. Participation in other international, regional and local conferences on a lesser scale is also widespread.
Through the years the Communications Society Technical Committees have developed their own specialized small-group meetings called "workshops." These workshops provide interaction among engineers working at the "cutting edge" of new developments, while respecting proprietary interests. (Most do not issue symposium records.) Many are listed in the IEEE Communications Magazine Conference Calendar and the IEEE Spectrum Calendar of Coming Events. Another service to Communications Society members is the presentation of Tutorial Sessions at conferences whereby new information on "hot topics" is disseminated to attendees, supplementing the standard paper sessions at the meetings.
The IEEE International Workshop on Quality of Service was launched in 1993.
Prior to 1979, the entire support for Society operations was handled by IEEE Staff, working under the direction of Society Officers and Members who were volunteers. When IEEE Communications Magazine became available to non-members, a Managing Editor was hired to provide closer Society control. This was the beginning of the IEEE Communications Society staff, which now numbers around 21 full-time IEEE employees. The staff is under the direction of an Executive Director, a position established in 1990.
Timeline of Events
|1837||Cooke and Wheatstone obtain a patent on telegraph. Morse publicly demonstrates his telegraph.|
|1844||Morse's first telegraph line between Washington and Baltimore opens in May.|
|1865||Maxwell mathematically predicts the propagation of electromagnetic waves through space.|
|1866||Uninterrupted transatlantic communications are established with the successful laying of the first telegraph cable on 27 July.|
|1876||Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray independently invent the telephone. Bell awarded priority.|
|1884||AIEE formed with Norvin Green, president of Western Union, as first President.|
|1887||Heinrich Hertz shows that electromagnetic waves exist.|
|1901||Guglielmo Marconi sends first transatlantic wireless signals, 12 December.|
|1902||Poulsen-Arc Radio Transmitter invented.|
|1903||AIEE Committee on Telegraphy and Telephony formed.|
|1904||John Ambrose Fleming invents the two-element "Fleming Valve".|
|1905||Marconi patents his directive horizontal antenna.|
|1906||Dr. Lee de Forest reads a paper before an AIEE meeting on the Audion, first of the vacuum tubes that would make long distance radiotelephony possible.|
|1906||Reginald Fessenden broadcasts Christmas Carols on Christmas Eve from Brant Rock, MA|
|1907||The world's first transatlantic commercial wireless services is established by Marconi with stations at Clifden, Ireland and Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.|
|1909||Marconi shares the Nobel Prize in Physics, with Karl Ferdinand Braun for their work in the development of wireless telegraphy.|
|1910||The first commercial radios are sold by Lee de Forest's Radio Telephone Company.|
|1911||Using loading coils properly spaced in the line, the transmission distance for telephone reaches from New York to Denver.|
|1912||IRE is founded. (13 May)|
|1912||Major Edwin H. Armstrong invents the feedback regenerator.|
|1912||The Titanic sinks, it is equipped with a Marconi wireless set, sending out distress signals.|
|1913||Armstrong patents his version of the valve generator.|
|1914||The last pole of the transcontinental telephone line is placed in Wendover, Utah, on the Nevada-Utah state line.|
|1915||Direct telephone communications opened for service at 4pm, EST. Alexander Graham Bell, in NY, greets his former assistant, Thomas Watson, in San Francisco, by repeating the first words ever spoken over a telephone, "Mr. Watson, come here I want you". Mr. Watson would reply that it would take him a week to get there.|
|1918||Edwin Armstrong develops a receiving circuit - the superheterodyne.|
|1919||Radio Corporation of America (RCA) is formed|
|1920||Westinghouse Radio Station KDKA is established (2 November)|
|1921||First radio broadcast of a sporting event (Dempsey/Carpentier Heavyweight Championship Prize Fight, 2 July)|
|1922||Alexander Graham Bell dies at his summer home in Beinn Breagh, near Baddeck, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (2 August). Telephone service is suspended for one minute (6:25pm-6:26pm) on the entire telephone system in the United States and Canada during the funeral service (4 August)|
|1922||British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is formed. (It would receive it's Royal Charter in 1927).|
|1923||Meetings at New York and Chicago of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) are linked by long distance lines connected to loudspeakers so that both meetings could follow the same program (14 February).|
|1924||Directive short wave antenna is developed by Professor Hidetsugu Yagi and his assistant, Shintaro Uda.|
|1925||The Combined Line and Recording (CLR) method of handling toll calls over long distances (100 miles or more) is introduced experimentally by Bell Systems. It reduces the handling of toll calls from 13 minutes (in 1920) to 7 minutes.|
|1926||The first public test of radiotelephone service from New York to London.|
|1927||First public demonstration of long distance transmission of television.|
|1927||Formal opening of telephone service between the US and Mexico, and also, Mexico- London, via New York.|
|1928||A joint meeting of the AIEE and the British IEE is held over radiotelephone channels, with the respective groups assembled in New York and London.|
|1929||29 October, the Great Depression|
|1931||AT&T inaugurates the Teletypewriter Exchange Service (TWX) 21 November|
|1933||Edwin Armstrong demonstrates frequency modulation (FM) to David Sarnoff.|
|1934||The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is established.|
|1935||The first around-the-world telephone conversation takes place. (25 April)|
|1935||Western Union's "Telefax" begins operating. Telefax sent telegrams, manuscripts, line drawings, maps and page proofs for magazines.|
|1936||Invention of coaxial cable is announced at a joint meeting of the American Physical Society and the IRE (30 April).|
|1937||Seven-hour radio broadcast of the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England.|
|1938||The power of radio is demonstrated by Orsen Wells with the broadcast of "War of the Worlds". This causes telephone traffic to peak in nearly all cities and on long distance lines.|
|1939||The Golden Gate Exposition (San Francisco) and New York Worlds Fair are opened. These exhibit the newest technologies, including the Voder (synthesized speech) and television.|
|1939||FM is used by Bell Laboratories in a radio altimeter that uses signal reflections from the surface of the earth.|
| 1940 | FM Police Radio Communications begin in Hartford, CT
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor affects the telephone system of the United States by causing tremendous traffic peaks in all cities, and an increase from 100 to 400 percent in long distance telephoning - which already is at a record high of 3 million messages. (The United States would again experience this phenomenon in 2001, during the 11 September attacks.)
Radar successfully detects the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the warnings are ignored.
The first section of telephone line is completed along the Alcan Highway, from Edmonton, Alberta, to Dawson Creek, British Columbia. The Alcan Highway begins at Dawson Creek.
Construction of a telephone line from Calcutta, India to Kunming, China, along Stilwell Road, begins at Ledo, Assam.
A telephone submarine cable is laid across the English Channel.
Western Union installs the first commercial radio beam system.
Mobile telephone service is placed into commercial use in St. Louis, Missouri.
The beam traveling-wave tube is announced by Bell Telephone Laboratories. This tube is an important amplifier for broadband communication.
Invention of the point contact transistor by Brattain and Bardeen at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ. (23 December)
Demonstration of mobile telephone equipment from a United Airlines plane to ground stations.
Invention of the junction transistor.
The volume of telephone calls reaches 180 million a day!
IRE Professional Group on Communications Systems is formed.
John Pierce proposes deep space communication.
US Air Force's SAGE system sets precedent for computer communications, including use of modems.
Recorded announcements of disconnected and changed numbers begin to be used in some small dial offices.
The Bell System and the British Post Office inaugurates service on a transatlantic telephone cable, TAT-1.
The 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics is awarded to the inventors of the transistor: Dr. Walter H. Brattain, Dr. John Bardeen and Dr. William Shockley.
Soviet Union launches Sputnik, humanity's first artificial satellite, on 5 October.
Jack S. Kilby and Robert Noyce independently invent an Integrated Circuit.
ECHO I communications satellite is launched on 12 August. Provides first satellite television broadcast of 1962.
Laser is invented.
Len Kleinrock of MIT publishes "Information Flow in Large Communication Nets", considered a seminal paper on packet-switching theory.
United States Congress passes the Communications Satellite Act.
T1 carrier is put into commercial service.
The first transatlantic transmission of a TV signal via the TELSTAR satellite. (11 July)
EES™ Electronic Switching Systems is introduced.
AIEE and IRE merge to form IEEE (1 January)
Paul Baran of RAND publishes "On Distributed Communications Networks," outlining the operations of packet-switching networks capable of surviving node outages.
NASA announces that the new Syncom II communications satellite has been used successfully to transmit voices live between the U.S. and Africa. At the time of the conversations, Syncom II hovers 22,000 miles over Brazil. The satellite is the first successful synchronous satellite. This mean that the satellite's revolution matches the daily revolution of the earth about its axis, so that the satellite seems to remain "stationary" over the same earth location
A telephone hotline connects Soviet and American leaders (30 August)
Touchtone phones are introduced to replace the rotary dial phones.
BBN develops the first modem.
An improved stock ticker tape machine (designed, developed and manufactured by Teletype Corporation) is placed into service at the New York Stock Exchange. The ticker, which transmits stock prices to brokerage houses nearly twice as fast as the previous system, has a capacity of ten million shares a day without incurring delays. (22 June)
IEEE Group on Communication Technology is formed. (1 July.)
K. C. Kao and G. A. Hackham publish an influential paper on fiber optics.
The first commercial communications satellite, Early Bird, later named Intelsat 1, is launched into orbit from Cape Kennedy. The 85-pound satellite is a synchronous satellite, matching the earth's rotation to hover over the same spot all the time. (6 April)
The Soviet Union launches its first communications satellite and carried out transmissions of television programs. The satellite is named "Molniya 1", which translates to "Lightning 1". (23 April)
Northeastern United States experiences it's first great Blackout (9 November)
Lawrence G. Roberts of MIT publishes "Towards a Cooperative Network of Time-Shared Computers" which outlines the ARPANET plan.
Worldwide direct telephone dialing has its first public demonstration, a call from Philadelphia to Geneva, Switzerland. (15 June)
Dolby introduces its noise reduction.
Bell Laboratories announces a new solid-state source of high frequency radio waves. The "LSA diodes" emitted millimeter waves, a part of the radio frequency range that could carry about nine times more telephone calls than all lower frequencies combined. An LSA diode and its power supply is about as large as a deck of cards. (15 February)
An experimental cordless extension telephone is introduced by Bell Laboratories (30 June)
Bell System adopts the use of "911" as a nationwide emergency telephone number (12 January)
Huntington, Indiana became the first U.S. city served by the Bell System to receive the new universal emergency telephone number "911". (1 March)
ARPANET begins 4-node operation (UCLA, Stanford Research Institute (SRI), UC Santa Barbara and University of Utah.
Video and Audio are transmitted back from the first Moon landing (20 July)
UNIX Operating System is developed.
Corning Glass demonstrate highly transparent fibers, and Bell Laboratories demonstrates semiconductor lasers that could operate at room temperature; these demonstrations help establish the feasibility of fiber-optic communications
The Intelsat IV communications satellite goes into commercial operation. Initially it has 830 circuits in service and linked ground stations in 15 countries.
The DUV (Data Under Voice) is introduced. It permits signals to "hitch-hike" on existing microwave radio systems by using the lower end of the frequency band not normally used for voice.
Ray Tomlinson writes the first email program. The @ sign is used for the first time in an email address.
IEEE Communications Society is established on 1 January.
Jon Postel writes the specifications for Telnet.
IEEE Proceedings publishes its first issue on computer communications. Guest Editors are Paul Green and Robert Lucky.
A demonstration of the ARPANET at the 1972 IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications.
Robert Metcalfe invents Ethernet at Xerox PARC. Ethernet uses a cable rather than a radio channel as the transmission medium.
The "Touch-a-matic" telephone is introduced. It can automatically dial a call anywhere in the U.S. at the touch of a single button. Its solid-state memory allows dialing up to 32 pre-coded telephone numbers.
Construction of a new, high-capacity coaxial cable system, called L5, is completed between Pittsburgh and St. Louis. It has the capacity of carrying 108,000 simultaneous telephone conversations, three times the capacity of any previous system.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is introduced.
Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn publish "A Protocol for Packet Network Interconnection", in IEEE Communications Magazine, which outlines design of a Transmission Control Program (TCP). The term "Internet" is used for the first time.
Western Union launches Westar, the nation's first domestic communications satellite.
New York Telephone inaugurated Dial-A-Joke, an addition to the recorded announcement field. During the first month of operation, more than 100,000 calls a day are made to the number.
Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) opens Telenet, the first public packet data service.
Viking is launched. Lands on Mars in 1976 and sends back data to Earth.
Transmission testing begins on the T4M, highest-capacity, short-haul digital transmission system in the U.S. The new system, linking Newark, NJ to New York City, transmits 274 million "bits" of information per second over a single coaxial tube.
Centennial of the Telephone
IEEE establishes the Alexander Graham Bell Medal to commemorate of the centennial of the telephone's invention and to provide recognition for outstanding contributions in telecommunications. Amos Joel, William Keister and Raymond Ketchledge are the first recipients.
COMSTAR is launched and begins commercial service. It is in permanent orbit over the Galapagos Islands.
Voyager spacecraft is launched. Sends back signals from Jupiter (1979-1980), Saturn (1981), Uranus (1986) and Neptune (1989).
Bell Laboratories announces the development of the MAC-8, a microprocessor suited for a wide range of telecommunications applications.
TAT-1, the world's first transoceanic telephone cable was retired (27 November)
TCP split into TCP and IP
A 62,000-mile microwave telecommunications system is completed within Saudi Arabia.
Emoticons are suggested :-)
First use of the "900" number.
First cellular mobile telephone service is offered, in Saudi Arabia and Scandinavia.
A new telephone service, DIAL-IT® allowed a caller to listen to the voice communications between the Space Shuttle Columbia and the ground command center.
BITNET is introduced (Because Its There NETwork)
256K DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) is introduced.
The first full-color two-way video teleconferencing service is offered.
The development of TFM (Time Frequency Multiplexing)
The Cleaved Coupled-Cavity (C3) laser was introduced. The single frequency tunable laser emitted a light so pure that over a billion bits of information per second could be sent through a glass fiber. (April)
The first commercial cellular phone system is introduced in Chicago. (13 October)
Desktop workstations are introduced.
Breakup of AT&T.(1 January)
Local area signaling service is introduced. The service is used to trace nuisance calls, transfer calls, and provide other advanced calling services. (20 May)
AT&T and NASA space shuttle Discover launch its second Telstar 3 satellite. 1 Sept.
Domain Name Service (DNS) is introduced. DNS is used mostly to translate between domain names and IP addresses, and to control Internet email delivery.
AT&T Bell Laboratories combine 10 laser beams on a single optical fiber demonstrating the capability of lightwave systems to carry 20 billion bits per second (equal to 300,000 telephone calls.)
Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link (WELL) is started.
Symbolics.com is assigned on 15 March to become the first registered domain. Other firsts: cmu.edu, purdue.edu, rice.edu, berkeley.edu, ucla.edu, rutgers.edu, bbn.com (24 April); mit.edu (23 May); think.com (24 May); css.gov (June); mitre.org, .uk (July)
TAT-3 transatlantic cable is retired (1 Sept.)
An Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) is deployed, capable of handling voice, data and video. (16 December)
The first Freenet comes on-line 16 July in Cleveland, OH.
Superconductivity is discovered - the transmission of electricity without resistance through low temperature material.
TDD (telecommunications device for the deaf) is initiated.
UUNet is founded by Rick Adams.
A self replicating program, a worm, invaded hundreds to thousands of computers, making them unusable. (3 November)
Timothy Berners-Lee at CERN develops World Wide Web. (December)
ARPANET is retired (28 February)
A new Internet protocol, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), was introduced to improve the efficiency of document retrieval (July)
The Internet Society (ISOC) is formed.
Mosaic, which is one of the first web browsers is released.
Yahoo goes on-line.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is created.
CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) is introduced.
3G Standard is finalized.
IEEE Communications Society celebrates it's 50th Anniversary