Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / August 1958

August 1958: “System Loss in Radio Wave Propagation” Published

Ken Norton’s ground breaking article on “System Loss in Radio Wave Propagation” first appeared in the August 1958 edition of the NBS Journal of Research. The work presented a new concept in propagation studies: transmission loss. Norton’s concept simplified the calculation of signal losses for radio engineers. His work allowed better engineering of radio systems with reduced power usage, since the power required to transmit over a required distance could be easily determined using his method. The algorithms published in the article also allowed engineers to easily compare antennas, even at different frequencies. Six years later the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory (CRPL) published Tech Note 101, one of its most famous publications. Tech Note 101 built on the foundation of Norton’s work and expanded on it, describing a way that users could accurately predict the distance at which a transmitter will work. Norton’s publication shaped the agency’s work even after it became the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) in 1967. Radio propagation predictions based on the algorithms described in these publications became one of ITS’s primary outputs in the 1970s. Current ITS propagation modeling work in support of more efficient spectrum sharing continues to build on Norton’s research to develop more accurate propagation prediction models.