In 2011, IEEE dedicated ten IEEE milestones in Electrical Engineering and Computing.
Each year, the IEEE Milestones in Electrical Engineering and Computing program recognizes significant technical achievements that occurred at least 25 years ago in fields of technology associated with IEEE. More than 100 IEEE Milestones have been dedicated to date. All the milestones are described in detail at the IEEE Global History Network Web site.
IEEE Milestones dedicated in 2011
Marconi’s First Wireless Experiments (Guglielmo Marconi), 1894-1895 (Pontecchio, Italy)
Marconi began experimenting in 1894 in a lab in the “Silkworm Room” in the attic of his family home, Villa Griffone, in Pontecchio, Italy. Marconi connected a grounded antenna to a transmitter, and with this apparatus transmitted radiotelegraphic signals over a physical obstacle, the Celestini Hill, at a distance of about two kilometers. The successful experiment marked the birth of wireless communication.
Mercury Spacecraft, 1962 (St. Louis, Mo.)
Engineers at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft (later a Boeing heritage company) provided a huge boost to the U.S. space program by developing, designing, and building the Mercury spacecraft. The first U.S. manned space vehicle was equipped with electrical systems that would evolve in future U.S. space flights.
First Satellite Broadcast to the Public, 1984 (Tokyo, Japan)
The research and development team of NHK, Japan’s public broadcasting organization, developed the technology used in the world’s first direct-broadcast satellite service–which laid the groundwork for today’s satellite television. The initial broadcast took place at NHK Science and Technology Research Laboratories.
Apollo Guidance Computer, 1962-1972 (Cambridge, Mass.)
The Apollo Guidance Computer provided spacecraft guidance, navigation, and control during all of NASA’s Apollo Moon missions. It was developed under the leadership of Dr. Charles Stark Draper at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Instrumentation Lab, now Draper Laboratory. This pioneering digital flight computer was the first real-time embedded computing system to collect data automatically and provided mission-critical calculations for the Apollo Command Module and Lunar Module.
First Real-Time Speech Communication on Packet Networks, 1974-1982 (Lexington, Mass.)
In August 1974, the first real-time speech communication over a packet-switched network was demonstrated via ARPANET at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. By 1982, these technologies enabled Internet packet speech and conferencing on terrestrial, packet radio, and satellite networks. They also laid the foundation for Voice over IP (VoIP) communications and Internet videoconferencing.
Discovery of Superconductivity, 1911 (Leiden, Netherlands)
On 8 April 1911, Professor Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and his collaborators, Cornelis Dorsman, Gerrit Jan Flim, and Gilles Holst discovered superconductivity by observing that the resistance of mercury approached “practically zero” when its temperature was lowered to three kelvins. Today, superconductivity is vital in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology, high-energy particle accelerators, electric generators, and RF and microwave filters found in mobile phone base stations. The technological milestone took place in the Physics Laboratory at Leiden University.
• Edison’s Pearl Street Generating Station, 1882 (New York, N.Y.)
• SPICE Circuit Simulation Program, 1971 (Berkeley, Calif.)
• Eel River High Voltage Direct Current Converter Station, 1972 (New Brunswick, Canada)
• Grumman Lunar Module, 1962-1972 (Bethpage, N.Y.)