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IEEE Philadelphia Section History

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A brief history of the IEEE Philadelphia Section

Foreword from “100 Years with the IEE in the Delaware Valley” Philadelphia Section Publication 1984

“The Philadelphia Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated (IEEE) presents this history of the electro-technical related accomplishments by individuals and companies in the Delaware Valley during the last 100 years in tribute to the founding of IEEE. It is hoped that the collection of articles will prove to be both interesting and informative for the nontechnical reader as well as the members of the Philadelphia Section. If by reading this document, the reader’s appreciation of the tremendous impact of engineering on his or her welfare, comfort, and security is enhanced, the Philadelphia Section will feel well rewarded.

Two introductory atcitcles documents the history of the IEE and the role played by the Franklin Institute in stimulating the founding of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE), which later merged with the Institue of Radio Engineers (IRE) to for the IEEE. The remaining articles have been grouped into arbitrarily braod divisions of electro-technology: Communications/Entertainment and Broadcast, power and industrial Applications, Rail Transportation, Medical Application, Computers, and Aerospace/Military. The reader will note that achievements by companies as opposed to those by individuals may extend across many or all of the divisions. To properly record the contributions of those individuals whose ideas sparked the developments described and those whose leadership brought forth and many marvelous technical accomplishments we take so much for granted today, would be worthy od several years of effort by a professional historians.

Formal history of the Philadelphia Section (or Branch, as it was then called) of the AIEE began on February 18, 1903. Dr. Carl Hering, the first Chairman, also went on to secure as president of the national AIEE and as a delegate of the U.S. Government to the Universal Exposition of 1889 held in Paris, France. The First regular meetings were help in the meeting room of the Engineer’s Club in Philadelphia, then 1122 Girad Street.

The Philadelphia Section of the IRE was recognized in the IRE Proceeding, December, 1925. Mr. Stuart Ballantine was the first Chairman.

It is noteworthy that the Philadelphia Section of the AIEE gave birth to the following offspring: the Delaware Bay Section (1953) – territory, State of Delaware and Salem County, New Jersey; the Southern New Jersey Section (1963) – territory, Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland Counties; and the Princeton-Trenton Division (1961-62). This division included a subsection of the IRE organized by T. H. Story in 1945.

The Philadelphia Section of the IRE was originally assigned the geographical areas covered by Philadelphia, Camden, and Atlantic City. Later this was expanded to include all of Southern New Jersey and the counties in Southeastern Pennsylvannia as far west as Adams, Dauphin, and Perry. Subsections that spun off from the Philadelphia Section include Princeton (1945), Lancaster (1947), Lehigh Valley (1957), and Reading (1959). As noted the Princeton Subsection merged with the AIEE. However, the remaining subsections did not obtain their independence until the time of the merger of AIEE and IRE in 1963. At that time, the Princeton Subsection became an independent section.

Events leading up to the merger of the AIEE and the IRE are described in the “Capsule History of the IEEE.” The role played by the Franklin Institute as sponsor of the International Electrical Exhibition, 1884, and the National Conference of Electricians, must not be overlooked. These events emphasized the need for a national organization ro represent the “practical men” such as Elihu Thompson, Edwin Houston, and Thomas Edison, and stimulated the founding of the AIEE.

On behalf of the Philadelphia Section, the Editor apologizes to those individuals or companies that may have been inadvertently omitted from this current history of significant electro-technical accomplishments with the Philadelphia Section of the IEEE. It is especially noted that the history of technical achievements in local RCA plants did not end in 1976. However, the outstanding accomplishments by this extraordinary company remain to be chronicled by some future historian.

The Section sincerely appreciates the time and effort freely given by all those who made this document possible. Specifically, the members of the Committee for the publication of this document are recognized here: G. W. Gordan (SAM’50), K. A. Fegley (F’57), W.W. Middleton (SM’61), K.A. Ringo (SM’56), A.L. Smith (M’77), and S>R> Warren (F’53).” - John C. Bry, Jr. (SM’77) Senior Member of the Engineering Staff, RCA Naval Systems Department, Moorestown, NJ. February, 1984.

Further Reading

Link to Section Homepage

IEEE Geographic Unit Organizing Document - Philadelphia