July 1959 Electronics World
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
Electronics World, published May 1959
- December 1971. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Bell Telephone Laboratories was largely responsible for designing and building a
communications system that was the envy of the world. Innovation on the part of
Bell engineers, manufacturing staff that produced the equipment, and technicians
who serviced the systems deserve the credit as do management types who made funds
and opportunity available to the aforementioned. As the number of telephone
service subscribers grew and reliability became even more vital to business, law
enforcement, and national defense, new methods had to be devised. In the late
1950s, Bell introduced the concept of wireless microwave links at 11 GHz (X
band), which at the time X band was primarily used (at 10 GHz) by precision
approach aircraft radar. This advertisement in a 1959 issue of Electronics World
promoted Bell's achievement.
Bell Telephone Ad
"Packaging" Microwaves for Higher Mountaintops
In Arizona, the telephone company faced a problem. How could it supply more
telephone service between Phoenix and Flagstaff - through 135 miles of difficult
Radio offered the economical answer: a new microwave radio-relay system recently
created at Bell Telephone Laboratories. Operating at 11,000 megacycles, it was
just right for the distance, and the number of conversations that had to be
But first other problems had to be solved: How to house the complex electronic
equipment; how to assemble and test it at hard-to-reach relay stations way up
in the mountains; and how to do it economically.
On-the-spot telephone company engineers had some ideas. They worked them
out with engineers at the American Telephone and Telegraph Company and at Bell
Telephone Laboratories. The result: A packaged unit.
The electronic equipment was assembled in trailer-like containers at convenient
locations and thoroughly checked out. The complete units were then trucked up
the mountains and lifted into position.
The system, now operating, keeps a watch on itself. When equipment falters,
a relay station switches in standby equipment, then calls for help over its
The new Phoenix-Flagstaff link illustrates again how Bell System engineers
work together to improve telephone service. Back of their efforts is the constant
development of new communications systems at Bell Telephone Laboratories.
"TJ" radio-relay station at Black mesa, Arizona
Bell Telephone Laboratories World center of communications research and development
Posted June 20, 2018