Look How Far We've Come

A New Year signals a change for many people. At Microwaves & RF, we are celebrating the past while looking forward to new prospects. We have created a new look for the magazine. We have reorganized various sections as well, making it easier for busy engineers to find the information they desire. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the magazinean occasion that we will celebrate with many special features throughout the year and an additional issue in November.

Fifty years ago, most people were not even capable of imagining today's technological advances. In 1961, Russia's Yuri Gagarin was the first human to be sent to space. He also was the first person to orbit the Earth. US airline TWA showed the first in-flight movie while the Squibb Co. produced the first electric toothbrush. Allan Sandage of Mt. Palomar, CA discovered the first quasar. Alternative energy also was being explored, as Niagara Falls started producing hydroelectric power in 1961. In sharp juxtaposition to today's tablet craze, IBM revolutionized the way the world typed with the introduction of its Selectric typewriter, which switched typeface styles by changing its "golfball" element. (For more on what happened 50 years ago, visit www.thepeoplehistory.com.)

Although technology has advanced rapidly in the last 50 years, a lot of the same types of components are still being used as the backbone of new products. Some products, however, have become obsolete. For example, a Cover Story from the first year of this magazine, then dubbed simply "Microwaves," spotlights an L-band tunnel-diode amplifier that achieved a system noise figure of 3.5 dB. Hailing from Micro State Electronics Corp., the NTA-1300B provided nominal gain of 17 dB and a 1-dB bandwidth of 10 percent. Among the ads featured in the magazine's first issues is a broadband coaxial noise generator from General Microwave Corp. The model 503 covered 3 to 500 mc (which we now refer to as MHz) with an excess noise output ranging from 0 to 19 dB. For $350, it provided 0.5 dB accuracy with a VSWR to 1.2:1. Also notable is an ad from the Narda Microwave Corp., which promotes a new line of ferrite isolators. The low-power broadband waveguide isolator offered front-to-back ratios of 26:1 at C-band and was priced at $250, while the X-band device boasted a 30:1 ratio at $220.

In 1961, the world population reached four billion people. This year, the Earth's population is estimated to number seven billion. Yet many of today's concerns are very similar. As politicians wrangle over tensions with foreign countries in the Middle East and North Korea, for example, 1961 saw the worsening of the Cold War as the USSR exploded some very large bombs during testing and then planned the building of the Berlin Wall. The failed Bay of Pigs incident followed together with conflicts spanning the Vietnam War through the current Iraq/Afghanistan efforts. Throughout the decades beginning with World War II, the microwave industry has created technology that has strengthened US and allied defense efforts while improving quality of life for consumers. Five decades since its inception, the staff of Microwaves & RF feels very fortunate to still be serving this vital and still-thriving industry.

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