July 1960 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
General Dwight D. (Ike)* Eisenhower was president when this article
was written telling of plans for the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) to receive their first computers. Arguments had to be made
to justify the expenditure based on how much money might be save
to time save in completing the department's duties. Citizen Band
(CB) radio license applications were being received at a rate of
10,000 per month, which was really beginning to cramp the processing
efforts when combined with the FCC's other responsibilities.
Mention of Ike always reminds me of the
Happy Days episode with Fonzie saying, "I like Ike. My bike
FCC Report: Computers for FCC
Computers for FCC
By Robert E. Tall
The electronic data processing bug has bitten the FCC. At the
moment, chances look good that the Commission will be blipping out
your Citizens Band licenses by machine in a few more years. Studies
are already being made by the National Bureau of Standards to see
which parts of the FCC's activities can be fitted into computer
operation, but it will probably take until early 1963 for the Commission
to make the necessary decisions and get the program into full swing.
Word on the computer plans was passed to the House Interstate &
Foreign Commerce Communications Subcommittee when the Commission
went up for its annual quizzing in connection with appropriations
for the year starting July 1. Several of the Congressmen briefed
on the plans expressed quick support.
FCC Executive Officer Robert W. Cox told the subcommittee that
both the Bureau of Standards and the Commission feel it is "premature"
to say how much money can be saved or how much faster work can be
done by a computerized operation. However, both agencies are "very
optimistic" about the possibilities.
The big question concerning the Citizens Band and other two-way
radio fields administered by the FCC is not whether the machines
can handle license processing, but whether they can do the work
more economically. A decision as to whether or not to swing into
a full data processing program will probably be made by the FCC
this fall. If the agency goes the computer route, another complete
overhauling of application and license forms is indicated.
Chairman Albert Thomas (D., Tex.) of the House Subcommittee said
the work of the FCC's Safety & Special Radio Services Bureau,
which includes the Citizens Band activities, should fit into computer
operation "just like it is made to order." If the program is undertaken,
it very definitely should mean much quicker application processing.
Citizens Band applications were being received by the FCC at
a rate of more than 10,000 a month, and the FCC told the House members
that since "an estimated 50 firms are making or planning to make
the relatively inexpensive Citizens Band equipment, a steady rise
in receipts can be expected as sales promotion plans get under way
and competition results in lowered prices." The Congressmen sitting
in on the sessions did not raise many questions when they were told
that the Commission expects the Citizens Radio Service to grow to
an estimated 200,000 licensees this year, and that the blossoming
service has required enforcement action "leading to the issuance
of at least 100 citations per month" for violations.
The FCC asked for money for added enforcement personnel to handle
problems involving class D licensees, which will "undoubtedly increase
as the band becomes saturated." Individual CB enforcement cases
continue to involve primarily off-frequency operation and failure
to answer FCC violation notices.
Amateur radio, meanwhile, got a large national publicity boost
when a live broadcast account of the annual meeting of President
Eisenhower's Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped
was transmitted to physically handicapped and other radio enthusiasts
throughout the world.
Accounts of the May 5-6 meeting in Washington were put on the
amateur airways by Miss Margaret Cauffield (W3UTR) and Gordon Walker.
Miss Cauffield is a wheelchair-bound "ham" employed by the Office
of Vocational Rehabilitation of the Department of Health, Education &
Welfare; Mr. Walker is also confined to a wheelchair and is an electronics
engineer with the Navy's Bureau of Ships.
The station they used was loaned for the venture by a Washington
electronics and radio parts firm. It was operated with a power of
about 145 watts, with a 55' x 35' antenna supplied by the Naval
Research Laboratory on the roof of the Departmental Auditorium in
Washington where the meeting was held.
Posted October 21, 2011