Birth of the IEEE Communications Society

By Gunther Karger - Senior Life Member IEEE, Holocaust Survivor, USA

It was October, 1963 in the depth of the Cold War when the military/Defense focus was on Post Nuclear Attack defense against first strike nuclear armed enemy ICBM’s. Then, there was the Air Force Systems Command under General Bernard Shriever with Hq in Boston(Hanscom Field and the MIT/MITRE complex and who also commanded the Rome Air Development Center at Rome, NY. This was the time and place where such things as Command Control Communications (C3) and Airborne Command Post (post nuclear attack national command center) and AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) were developed as was the post attack Air Force Communication System (AFSACS) which was created at ICS (ITT Communication Systems) under the personal direction of Gunther Karger, Project Manager and Technical Staff member at ICS in Paramus NJ.

The key persons involved with such matters attended this symposium held in Utica, NY including communication engineers from Ft. Monmouth, NJ (Bernard Goldberg), Dr. Elie J. Baghdady (MITRE/MIT/ADCOM, Roger McSweeney (RCA-ICS), Richard Kirby (NBS-National Bureau of Standards) , Ransom D. Slayton (Teletype Corp) , Gunther Karger (ICS) , Ralph Marks and Charlie Strom from Rome Air Development Center and others. Matters discussed included COMSEC (secure communications), emergency post attack communications, digital techniques with speech compression and networks such as Autovon and Datavon (which eventually led to the Internet).

The common denominator throughout this symposium and others by NATCOM (National Communications Symposium) was the IEEE Professional Group on Communications (PTGC) of which most of these attendees were officers and committee members. At that time, R.D. Slayton of Teletype Corp in Skokie, Ill was on the executive committee and Newsletter Editor, Gunther Karger was Chairman of the Northern New Jersey chapter and as of this meeting, became the PTGC Newsletter Editor which he served for the following five years.

The NATCOM symposium eventually evolved over the years into Globecom and PTGC became COMSOC. The Newsletter headed by Gunther Karger eventually became the COMSOC Magazine. ISC which at that time was the project focus of the C3 developments eventually was acquired by Computer Sciences and moved to Arlington, VA . Gunther Karger however left the project to join Radiation Inc. in Melbourne, Florida later to the Air Force Space complex at Cape Canaveral and became the IEEE Chair of the Canaveral Section.

This history reflects my best recollection of that significant part of history an as of today, March, 2023, I may well be the only person alive to tell this story, just having reached my 90th birthday March 16, 2023. To preserve this and other recollections and records, I have donated all our scientific and IEEE records to the IEEE History Center.

Certificate awarded to Gunther Karger by NATCOM IX, October 1963

Gunther Karger, Author, speaker, Cyber Columnist and Aerospace Engineer, IEEE Senior Life Member, Holocaust Survivor, <>