Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / February 1921

February 1921: NBS Radio Communication Section Formed

On February 1, 1921, the National Bureau of Standards combined its two radio laboratories—Section 6a, Radio Development and Section 6b, Radio Research and Testing—into one undivided section. The new section was christened Section 6, Radio Communication Section. The move recognized the importance of radio work and consolidated the agency's radio research under the leadership of one person. F.A. Kolster had headed the radio development subsection before 1921; his work included early receivers, wavelength measurement devices, and radio direction finders. Kolster was named chief of the new section, and placed in charge of all cooperative studies with the military, but later that year, when Kolster left NBS to join the National Telegraph Company, John Howard Dellinger was named chief of the division. Dellinger had acted as head of radio research and testing prior to the re-organization, and as Kolster’s research assistant afterward. Dellinger remained the head of the Radio Section until it was again re-organized and became the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory in 1946. In Kolster's own words, his separation from NBS and the creation of the Kolster Radio Corp. was a “magnificent failure.” The Radio Communication Section was re-organized many more times in the following years, but no matter what it was called or who was in charge, its research has continued to inform federal radio spectrum policy and support the American telecommunications industry.