Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / December 1918

December 1918: NBS Issues Handbook for Army Radio Operators

On December 10, 1918, the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and the Army Signal Corps released the Principles Underlying Radio Communication. In April, the Army Signal Corps had asked NBS to write the handbook for training soldiers in radio communication. The NBS Radio Laboratory called on its own and other experts to quickly write and edit the 355 page book. The authors simplified complex concepts and theory with line drawings and plain language. World War I ended before the Army Signal Corps could print and distribute the handbook, but NBS published it and it became a primary reference in radio operator schools and training facilities around the country. Thomas Edison wrote a letter to the authors thanking them and calling it the best book on the subject that he had ever read. In 1922 an expanded and revised edition was released. To ensure the information would be broadly disseminated everywhere it was needed, the 619 page revised edition sold for only $1.00. Today the Institute for Telecommunications Sciences carries on the Radio Lab’s work, publishing research results in Technical Reports and Memoranda that are available online to the American public at no cost.