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IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society History

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*1976-1977 James C. Toler  
*1976-1977 James C. Toler  
*1978-1979 Jackie R. Janoski  
*1978-1979 Jackie R. Janoski  
*1980-1981 Donald N. Heirman  
*1980-1981 [[Don_Heirman|Donald N. Heirman ]]
*1982-1983 [[Oral-History:William G. Duff|William G. Duff]]  
*1982-1983 [[Oral-History:William G. Duff|William G. Duff]]  
*1984-1985 Eugene D. Knowles  
*1984-1985 Eugene D. Knowles  

Revision as of 16:34, 9 January 2014


A Brief Timeline of Events

  • May 2, 1957 - Meeting to discuss formation of IRE Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference
  • November 20, 1957 - First meeting of the IRE Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference
  • March 26, 1963 - Name change to IEEE Professional Technical Group on Radio Frequency Interference
  • March 24, 1964 - Name change to IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Group
  • June 3, 1963 - Name change to IEEE Professional Technical Group on Electromagnetic Compatibility
  • January 1, 1978 - Name change to IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society
  • November 18, 2006 – Field of Interest revision

The Beginning

The EMC Society originated in the mid-1950’s when some electrical engineers specializing in Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) began to discuss a more formal organization for their loose-knit technical activities. These discussions were usually held as part of informal meetings at Conferences on Radio Interference Reduction (RIR.)

The first one of these formal RIR Conferences was held at the Armour Research Foundation in December of 1954 under Tri-Service (United States Army, Navy, and Air Force) sponsorship. This conference highlighted the magnitude and diversity of interference experienced by commercial and military electronic equipment and stressed techniques for reducing its severity. The first “Armour Conference” was a success and lead to a series of “Armour Conferences” which addressed Radio Interference Reduction.

In early 1956, a group of RFI engineers in the Los Angeles area founded an informal organization of interference experts. A steering committee was formed to develop the aims and intentions of the group. The steering committee consisted of Prentice Tinney (North American Aviation), Joe Tobin (AiResearch), A.T. Parker (Stoddart Aircraft Radio), Charles W. Ketteman, Jr. (California Electronic Services Company), and Fred Nichols (Sprague). They became known as the Radio Interference Technical Committee and operated for almost two years as that Committee until they joined the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) as the Professional Group on RFI.

At the same time that the Los Angeles group was getting organized, a separate group of engineers from the New York City area were also organizing an East Coast Group. At the third Armour Conference in Chicago in February of 1957, an announcement was made of an organizational meeting to be held in New York City in April of 1957. At this meeting, the decision was made to petition the Institute of Radio Engineers for formation of a Professional Group on RFI. This petition was circulated around the USA and a total of 326 individuals signed the petition, which was formally submitted to the IRE on 3 July 1957. (Note – These 326 individuals were the original Founders of the Professional Group on RFI; this list is still being searched for by the History Committee of the EMC Society of the IEEE.)

The petition read as follows:

The undersigned do hereby petition for the formation of an IRE Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference in the field of interest of electronics. The scope of this group, if approved, would encompass the following: Radio Frequency Interference, including: (1) Methods of measurement and control. (2) Systems considerations such as: Susceptibility, Vulnerability, Compatibility, Spectrum Utilization, Related Propagation Effects, and Subjective Effects. (3) Studies of the origins of interference, both man-made and natural, and their classification. (4) Cooperation with other Professional Groups, committees and other organizations through joint meetings and activities; and by other appropriate means. The scope will also include scientific, technical, industrial, or other areas that contribute to the field of interest, or utilize the techniques or products of this field where necessary to advance the art and science in this field, subject, as the art develops, to additions, subtractions, or other modifications directed or approved by the IRE Committee on Professional Groups.

The proposed Group is a new Group.

The following differentiates the field of interest of the proposed group from those of prior groups about which misunderstanding might occur. The new Group will bring together all those concerned with Radio Frequency Interference problems; and provide means which do not now exist of disseminating related technical information.

The undersigned and other members of the IRE interested in forming this group arrived at their decision to petition for the formation of the group through the following discussions or meetings: Meeting at Willkie Memorial Building, New York City, April 10, 1957 Meeting at IRE Headquarters, May 2, 1957

The undersigned have named the following as desirable members of the Administrative Committee and asked that they be named as those officers for the year indicated.

1-Year Term – R. Fairweather, L. Milton, B. Schenker, and H. Schwenk 2-Year Term – S. Burruano, J. McNaul, A. Kall, W. Pakala 3-Year Term – W. Crichlow, Z. Grobowski, M. Kant, R. Showers

On October 10, 1957; the IRE approved the formal petition and the new Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference (PGRFI) was officially born.

Founders of the IRE Professional Group On RFI

At the 25th anniversary of the founding of the IRE Professional Group on RFI, forty of the original 326 signers were still active members of the organization. These forty founders are Stuart Bailey, Saul Bernstein, Samuel J. Burruano, Edward W. Chapin, John F. Chappell, James J. Crenca, Rexford Daniels, Alfred Eckersley, Herman Garlan, Simon Goldman, Frank M. Greene, Joseph S. Grevious, Zigmund Grobowski, Fred Haber, J. M. Harley, Albert R. Kall, Milton Kant, E. V. Kavanaugh, Edwin S. Kesney, Warren Kesselman, Robert A. Kulinyi, Merrill N. Lustgarten, Vincent J. Mancino, Leonard Milton, Joseph Naresky, Stuart Nellis, John J. O’Neil, William A. Pakala, John J. Renner, James S. Rice, Douglas W. Robertson, Joseph L. Ryerson, Harold R. Schwenk, Neal H. Shepherd, Bryce Showalter, Ralph M. Showers, Samuel Skolnick, Leonard W. Thomas, Sr., and Anthony Zimbalatti.

James McNaul on left with founders (from L. to R.) Vince Mancino, Milton Kant, Ralph Showers, Sam Burruano, and Tony Zimbalatti, 2007
James McNaul on left with founders (from L. to R.) Vince Mancino, Milton Kant, Ralph Showers, Sam Burruano, and Tony Zimbalatti, 2007

First Administrative Committee

The first meeting of the Administrative Committee of the Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference (PGRFI) was held November 20, 1957 at the Berkeley-Carteret Hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Harold Schwenk was elected as the first Chairman, Leonard Milton as the first Vice-Chairman, Albert R. Kall as the first Secretary, and Lieutenant James P. McNaul as the first Treasurer. The first official term of office ran from July 1, 1958 to June 30, 1959. The second chairman was Lieutenant James P. McNaul, and the third was Ralph Showers.

In 1963, the IEEE was formed from the combination of the IRE and the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE.) The IRE Professional Group on RFI became the IEEE Professional Group on RFI.

Then, in 1978, the PGRFI became the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Society of the IEEE (its current name).

In 1965, the terms of office were changed to run concurrently with the calendar year so A. H. Sullivan, Jr. served as Chairman from 1 July 1965 until 31 December 1967 (a total of two and one-half years.) This is the longest term served by any chairman.

In 1972, the offices of Chairman and Vice-Chairman were renamed President and Vice-President in a title change that has remained constant ever since. The Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer had no specific terms, and were often held for long periods of time by the same persons. However, traditionally the President (Chairman, in the past) served a two-year term beginning in 1974 – 1975 with W. E. “Gene” Cory. The traditional two-year term of the President of the Society was formalized in 1997 with a motion at the Board level.

A complete list of all Past Chairmen and Presidents is shown below.

Presidents of the IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society

Some officers that have served in their positions for a long time. For example, L.W. (Leonard) Thomas, Sr. served as Secretary from 1966-1982 (17 years) and Warren Kesselman has been Treasurer from 1972-1983 and again from 1998-2008. (for a total of 23 years). And, Janet O’Neil has been Secretary from April of 1988 and is still serving in that position in 2008.


As mentioned earlier in this article, Conferences and Symposiums have been an important part of the EMC Society from its beginnings, and indeed even before the time of its organization. The first Conference on Radio Interference Reduction was held in December of 1954 at the Armour Research Foundation of the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, Illinois. It was followed by the Second Conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Chicago on March 6 and 7 in 1956. The Third Armour Conference was held in February of 1957 and was instrumental as the meeting place for the organizers of the EMC Society. A total of 10 Armour Conferences were held. The last one was took place at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois from November 17-19, 1964. It was jointly sponsored by the US Army, US Navy and the US Air Force, and as organized by the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute in cooperation with the IEEE EMC Group.

The first PGRFI symposium was held in New York City on June 15 and 16, 1959 with 250 people attending. The second one was held in 1960 in Washington, DC and was attended by over 400 people. Due to that success, the third Symposium was held in “DC” again.

During the years of the first EMC symposiums, the proceedings were termed digests and contained abstracts and summaries of the papers presented. In 1965, with the dissolution of the Armour conferences, the EMC Symposia records began to include some full papers and within two years (by 1967) all the symposia records included full papers.

The symposium was first called a National Symposium until about 1970, when the IEEE became interested in assuring all countries in the world were represented by its membership, and renamed it the International Symposium. The first IEEE International EMC Symposium held outside the United States was in 1984 in Tokyo, Japan. That year a separate EMC symposium was held in San Antonio, Texas for USA activities. Since then, an International Symposium for the IEEE was held in Montreal (Canada) in 2001 and in Turkey (sponsored by the Israel chapter) in 2003.

Of course, the EMC Society has cooperated with other EMC symposiums around the world. These include the Zurich Symposiums (held in odd-numbered years) and the Wroclaw Symposiums (usually held in even-numbered years). It should be noted that the “Zurich” symposiums were actually held in Montreux (1975 and 1977) and Rotterdam (1979). Other EMC Symposiums from all over the world have asked for technical cooperation from the EMC Society over the years and, typically, the IEEE EMC Society has agreed to cooperate with these “international” symposiums.

Produced from the 2007 Symposium in Honolulu, HI, the Founders War Stories video is available for viewing.


An important element of the EMC Society has always been its technical publications, especially the Transactions. The Transactions were initiated in 1959 and were first called the IRE Transactions on Radio Frequency Interference. In 1963, their name was changed to the IEEE Transactions on Radio Frequency Interference and in 1964, their name was changed to IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility (the current name.)

The IEEE Transactions on EMC publishes high-quality scientific peer-reviewed papers. The papers have contributed significantly to the advance of EMC technology over the past 50 years.

Early editions were published under the guidance of a Publications Committee and a Technical Papers Committee. The acting editors in this early time-frame were Ralph Showers (1959), O.P. Schreiber (1960), A.R. Kall (1961-1962), and A.H. Sullivan, Jr. (1962-1964). In 1964, an official editor was selected for the first time and, as the publication grew, associate editors were added. The first formal editor was A. H. Sullivan, Jr. (1964-1968) and the second was R.B. “Dick” Schulz (1969-1987). This excellent beginning was followed by the appointment of Moto Kanda (1988-2000) and Marcello D’Amore (2000-2003). The current Transactions Editor-in-Chief is Flavio G. Canavero.

In addition to the editors, the authors, reviewers, and the IEEE editorial staff have contributed significantly to the success and the high-quality of the EMC Transactions. Normally, the EMC Transactions are published four times a year but, sometimes special issues are produced which results in a fifth publication in a given year.

Examples of articles in a recent Issue include the following:

  1. “A Higher Order Nonstandard FDTD-PML Method for the Advanced Modeling of Complex EMC Problems in Generalized 3-D Curvilinear Coordinates” by N. V. Kantartzis and T. D. Tsiboukis.
  2. “Common-Mode Current Due to a Trace Near a PCB Edge and Its Suppression by a Guard Band” by Y. Kayano, M. Tanaka, J.L. Drewniak, and H. Inoue.
  3. “Study of the Coupling Between Human Head and Cellular Phone Helical Antennas” by S. Koulouridis and K. S. Nikita.
  4. “Optimization of Carbon Fiber Composite for Microwave Absorber” by C.P. Neo and V.K. Varadan.


Before the Professional Group on RFI had a newsletter, there was an informal newsletter “Quasis and Peaks” which was originated by Rexford Daniels in 1954 in order to coordinate happenings in the technical area of Interference. It should be noted, however, that the first newsletter published directly by the PGRFI was actually written and edited by Milton Kant, one of the founders of the EMC Society. It was published January 2, 1958.

But, the second and subsequent Newsletters of the Professional Group on RFI was edited by Rex Daniels and he continued as the editor until 1968 (Issues #2 -#53.) In 1968, Robert Goldblum became the editor and remained in that position until 1997 (Issues #54 - #173.) Since then, Janet O’Neil has edited the Newsletter.

The newsletter’s name has changed a number of times. It was originally called “The Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference Newsletter” (Issues #1 and #2.) Then, it became the “IRE Professional group on Radio Frequency Interference Newsletter” (Issues #3 - #24 – August 1958 – December 1962.) Issues Number 25 and 26 were entitled “IEEE Professional Group on Radio Frequency Interference Newsletter.” Then, Issue # 27 in April of 1963 was entitled “IEEE Professional Technical Group on Radio Frequency Interference Newsletter” and this title changed immediately to “IEEE Professional Technical Group on Electromagnetic Compatibility Newsletter” for Issue # 28 in July of 1963. It continued this way until Issue #34 in August of 1964 when the title switched to “IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Group Newsletter.” (It was obvious from the rapid switch in Newsletter titles that there was a lot of changes going on around 1963 with the formation of the IEEE!) The title then remained constant until Issue #98, in the summer of 1978, when it changed to “IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society Newsletter.” The final change, to its present title of “IEEE EMC Society Newsletter,” occurred at Issue # 146.

The Newsletter has changed in content and length over the years. It started in the early years with four pages. It grew to an average size of 24 pages under Bob Goldblum and more recently has grown again, under Janet O’Neil, to more than 50 pages. The newsletter has associate editors who support the chief editor in her duties.

EMC Abstracts

One of the areas of the EMC Society Newsletter that has been popular over the years has been the EMC Abstracts. These are short summaries of magazine articles and other pertinent articles on EMC that have been reviewed by EMC technical experts. The Abstracts highlight the main gist of the articles and describe the location of the article for the reader who wants more information.

Examples of recent EMC Abstracts include the following:

1. “Analysis on Shielding Effectiveness of Metallic Enclosures with Slot,” Yingpeng Fan, Zhengwei Du, Ke Gong, and Guoding Li; from the Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Conference on Environmental Electromagnetics CEEM ‘2003, Hangzhou, China, November 4-7, 2003, pp. 43- 46

2. “Analysis of Resonance Characteristics of a Power Bus with Rectangle and Triangle elements in Multi-layer PCBs” – Zhi Liang Wang, Osami Wada, Yoshitaka Toyota and Ryuji Koga; , from the Proceedings of the Asia-Pacific Conference on Environmental Electromagnetics CEEM ‘2003, Hangzhou, China, November 4-7, 2003, pp. 73-76.

Technical Services

The EMCS has a Vice-President of Technical Services who supervises a number of technical activities in the Society. His area of responsibility includes the Technical Advisory Committee (which has been a part of the EMCS for over twenty-five years), whose subcommittees include TC-1 through TC-10.

Their areas of interest are:

1. TC-1 EMC Management 2. TC-2 EMC Measurement 3. TC-3 EM Environment 4. TC-4 EMI Control 5. TC-5 High Power EM 6. TC-6 Spectrum Management 7. TC-7 Nonsinusoidal Fields 8. TC-8 EM Product Safety 9. TC-9 Computational EMC 10. TC-10 Signal Integrity 11. TC-11 Nanotechnology in EMC

EMC Standards

The EMCS also has a Vice-President of Standards and the EMC Society has developed a number of standards over the years. The EMCS has had an interest in developing standards in the area of EMC almost from its origin as a Society.

Current EMC Society standards include:

1. IEEE Standard 139-1988 – “IEEE Recommended Practice for the Measurement of Radio Frequency Emissions from Industrial, Scientific, and Medical (ISM) Equipment Installed on User’s Premises.” (NOTE – This standard was last reaffirmed by the EMC Society in 1999.) 2. IEEE Standard 299-1997 – “IEEE Standard Method for Measuring the Effectiveness of Electromagnetic Shielded Enclosures.” 3. IEEE Standard 377-1980 – “IEEE Recommended Practice for Measurement of Spurious Emissions from Land-Mobile Communication Transmitters.” (NOTE – This standard was last reaffirmed by the EMC Society in 1997.) 4. IEEE Standard 1128-1998 – “IEEE Recommended Practice for RF Absorber Performance Evaluation in the Range 30 MHz to 5 GHz.”

International Growth

During its first 25 years of growth the EMC Society were very much oriented towards the United States. The symposia were called National Symposiums, and most members were from the United States. Of the 21 EMCS chapters in 1982, 20 were located in the USA, with the sole international chapter located near Tokyo, Japan

Contrast that to the 2008 list of EMCS Chapters: there are 65 EMCS Chapters and 33 of them are outside the United States. The chapters outside the USA include Austria, Beijing (China), Benelux (Belgium), Brazil (Sao Paulo), France, Germany, Israel, Italy (Roma), Japan, Malaysia, Melbourne (Australia), Montreal (Canada), Nanjing (China), Ottawa (Canada), Romania, Russia (Siberia), Sendai (Japan), Seoul (Korea), Singapore, Spain, St. Petersburg (Russia), Sweden, Switzerland, Taipei/Taiwan, Toronto (Canada), Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom & Republic of Ireland.

The membership of the EMC Society has also shown international growth. The current composition of its 4000 members is 60 % from the USA, 40% international.


The EMC Society has grown from a few hundred members in 1957 to its current size of over four thousand. The number of chapters has grown and matches the growth in membership. The Society now includes members and chapters from all over the world.

The EMC Society has a history of high-quality EMC Transactions, high-quality International EMC Symposiums, excellent EMC Standards, and outstanding Technical Committees.

Even as the Society celebrates its recent 50th Anniversary, it is also preparing for another 50 years of progress in its technical niche of Electromagnetic Compatibility.

Archival documents

EMCS Newsletter #1, Jan. 1958


1. Thomas, Sr.; Leonard W. and Hill, James S.; “A Brief Review of the Origin and Growth Statistics of the IEEE EMC Society;” IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility, Vol EMC-25, No. 3. August – 1983; Pages 138-153. 2. Kesselman, Warren; Private Communications with the Author, 2004.

Further Materials

IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society Interviews - Interviews with 5 prominent EMC members, including Ralph M. Showers and Warren A. Kesselman.

Link to IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Society

Interviews with EMC Founders Milton Kant, Mervin First, and Dr. Ralph Showers