Institute for Telecommunication Sciences / May 1946

May 1946: CRPL Established as a Peacetime Equivalent to IRPL

On May 1, 1946 the Central Radio Propagation Laboratory (CRPL) was officially created. During World War II the military had taken control of the airwaves, and with them the radio research arm of the National Bureau of Standards. In 1942, the Interdepartmental Radio Propagation Laboratory (IRPL) had been formed from the Bureau’s radio lab, but its research was supervised and funded by the Army and Navy. With the horrors of World War II over the generals were ready to give the responsibility for radio research back to the Department of Commerce. In December of 1945, the Secretaries of War, the Army and Navy had written a letter to the Secretary of Commerce suggesting a centralized agency to handle radio propagation research and data housed in the Department. Commerce Secretary Wallace responded to that he was, “asking the director of the National Bureau of standards to establish within that bureau a central radio propagation laboratory.” A council of military and civilian interests was formed to direct the new lab. CRPL’s primary focus was on understanding, mapping, and predicting the ionosphere to understand its effects on radio wave propagation. John Howard Dellinger, who had been director of both IRPL and the radio lab that preceded it, was placed in charge of the new agency. In the 70 years since the end of World War II, CRPL has changed names and responsibilities, but has remained the primary source of federally-funded radio research. ITS now works to improve telecommunications – including radio - in the United States. Propagation studies are still an important part of the lab’s work along with newer endeavors such as audio visual quality, public sector communications, and improved network performance.