FCC Report: Computers for FCC
July 1960 Popular Electronics
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.
July 1960 Popular Electronics
[Table of Contents]People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about
and learning some of the history of early electronics. Popular Electronics was published from October 1954 through April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
* Mention of Ike always
reminds me of the
Happy Days episode with Fonzie
saying, "I like Ike. My bike likes Ike."
See all articles from
FCC Report: Computers for FCCComputers for FCC
By Robert E. Tall
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
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.
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
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.
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