Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / March 1915

March 1915: NBS Radio Section Funded

On March 4, 1915 the National Bureau of Standards received its first appropriation for radio research. The Bureau had been investigating radio-wireless technology since 1913 in the electricity division, but, for the first time, the new budget for Fiscal Year 1916 included a separate line item of “$10,000 for the investigation and standardization of methods and instruments employed in radio communication.” F.A. Kolstler and J.H. Dellinger, well regarded researchers from the electricity division, divided the leadership of the new radio lab. While Kolstler was named chief of the section on the organizational paperwork, his duties were focused on military applications for the new technology. Dellinger, listed as a research assistant, was in charge of personnel, publications, and his own research lab. By the next year, the radio section had outgrown its lab space and Congress appropriated an additional $50,000 for the construction of a building south of the Bureau’s existing electrical building. The 1918 construction costs of the two-story Radio Building included two one-hundred-fifty foot antennas. Over the years the work of the radio section changed to keep up with new technologies and new needs. Its name also changed—the NBS Radio Section became the Inter-service Radio Propagation Laboratory in 1940, the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory in 1946, the Institute for Telecommunication Science and Aeronomy in 1964, and finally the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences in 1967. ITS is the country’s principal resource for governmental radio research and still works to improve the scientific understanding that underlies cellular, satellite, and public safety communications as well asother radio technologies such as Wi-Fi, radar, and GPS.