Milestone-Proposal talk:Project Echo

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Advocates and reviewers will post their comments below. In addition, any IEEE member can sign in with their ETHW login (different from IEEE Single Sign On) and comment on the milestone proposal's accuracy or completeness as a form of public review.

Advocates’ Checklist

  1. Is proposal for an achievement rather than for a person?
  2. Was proposed achievement a significant advance rather than an incremental improvement to an existing technology?
  3. Were there prior or contemporary achievements of a similar nature?
  4. Has the achievement truly led to a functioning, useful, or marketable technology?
  5. Is proposal adequately supported by significant references (minimum of five) such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books? At least one of the references from a peer-reviewed scholarly book or journal article. The full text of the material, not just the references, shall be present. If the supporting texts are copyright-encumbered and cannot be posted on the ETHW for intellectual property reasons, the proposers shall email a copy to the History Center so that it can be forwarded to the advocate. If the advocate does not consider the supporting references sufficient, the advocate may ask the proposer(s) for additional ones.
  6. Are the scholarly references sufficiently recent?
  7. Is proposed citation readable and understandable by the general public?
  8. Does the proposed plaque site fulfill the requirements? Is the address complete? Are the GPS coordinates correct and in decimal format?
  9. Is the proposal quality comparable to that of IEEE publications?
  10. Scientific and technical units correct? (e.g. km, mm, hertz, etc.) Are acronyms correct and properly upperercased or lowercased?
  11. Date formats correct as specified in Section 6 of Milestones Program Guidelines?,_Plaque_Locations

Reviewers’ Checklist

  1. Is suggested wording of the Plaque Citation accurate?
  2. Is evidence presented in the proposal of sufficient substance and accuracy to support the Plaque Citation?
  3. Does proposed milestone represent a significant technical achievement?
  4. Were there similar or competing achievements? If so, have the proposers adequately described these and their relationship to the achievement being proposed?

Submission and Approval Log

Submitted 17 May 2023. 29 November 2023 -- History Committee approval.

Original Citation Title and Text -- Administrator4 (talk) 17:45, 25 May 2023 (UTC)

Project Echo, Telstar, and the 1964 discovery of the Cosmic Background Radiation of the Formation of the Universe, the Big Bang 1959 - 1965

In Project Echo 1959 - 1961 a 2390-mc receiving system located at Holmdel New Jersey, a tracking horn-reflector antenna, a maser preamplifier (or standby parametric preamplifier), and a special FM demodulator were combined to form a low-noise receiving system which was used to achieve a high-quality voice circuit from California via the Echo I passive satellite, in 1962 - 1963 to communicate with Telstar, and in 1964 the discovery of the cosmic background radiation of the formation of the Universe, the Big Bang.

Re: Original Citation Title and Text -- Jbart64 (talk) 18:09, 9 November 2023 (UTC)

The original text of the proposal (shown above) was revised with input from me as the Milestone Advocate. I have published previously about the history of this topic. The proposers also consulted with experts during the development process for this submission. The revised text is included as the proposed text in the submission. The text shown above is included for documentation purposes. David Bart Milestone Advocate

EXPERT REVIEW #1 - Paul Berger -- Jbart64 (talk) 18:32, 12 November 2023 (UTC)

The Milestone Advocate received the following email from expert reviewer #1. The Advocate added the experts qualifications below. ---

On Nov 9, 2023, at 7:19 PM, Berger, Paul R. <> wrote: Hi there,

Regarding your 3 directed questions:

1. Is the suggested wording of the Plaque Citation accurate? YES 2. Is the evidence presented in the proposal of sufficient substance and accuracy to support the Citation? YES 3. Does the proposed special citation represent a significant historical site? YES

For disclosure, my first job out of graduate school was at AT&T Bell Labs (now Nokia Bell Labs) at the Murray Hill, NJ location. I walked past the Telstar in the lobby on my way to work in Building 6. So, I am familiar with the subject matter outside of this disclosure.

It would be well served to honor this innovation.

Thank you!

Paul Prof. Paul R. Berger, Ph.D. IEEE Fellow; IEEE Distinguished Lecturer; IEEE EDS Board of Governors (‘19-‘24); Chair, Future Directions IEEE EDS (’22-’23)

IEEE: Founding Editor-in-Chief, IEEE Journal on Flexible Electronics (J-FLEX), Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Materials for Electron Devices (T-MAT), General Chair, 2021 IEEE International Flexible Electronics Conference (IFETC), Lead Guest Editor, Special Issue in IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices entitled “Low Temperature Processing of Electronic Materials for Cutting Edge Devices,”

The Ohio State University: Founder, Nanoscale Patterning Laboratory Director, Nanoelectronics and Optoelectronics Laboratory (NOEL) Director, Organic and Printed Flexible Electronics Laboratory (OPFEL) Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Department of Physics

Expert Review #2 - David Bart -- Jbart64 (talk) 19:33, 12 November 2023 (UTC)

I am the Milestone Advocate. I have also published two lengthy historical articles about this subject. In my opinion, the achievements are worthy of recognition; I have worked with the proposer, reviewed the historical support for the achievement, and it is accurate; and the location is a relevant significant historical site.

A note about the plaque wording -- I provided commentary during the development of this milestone proposal to the proposers and support the current wording.

A note about Proposers and Expert Reviewers -- There are a number of proposers for this milestone, and the search for experts eliminated many who worked on the projects in some capacity, since they were perceived to have potential conflicts of interest for providing a review. I note that there is widespread support for the claims made and for the commemoration effort. Further, Drs. Penzias and Wilson who made the discoveries of cosmic background radiation that led to their Nobel Prize are very senior in age, so time is of the essence for any recognition and commemoration of the milestone achievement that could include the remaining people who were directly involved.

A note about the achievements -- Three successes are listed: Project Echo, Project Telstar, and the discovery of cosmic background radiation. All three utilized the Crawford Hill horn antenna with its maser-based receiving system that was initially developed for Project Echo. It is appropriate to name the projects since that is what the public will recognize in the title. Modifications that occurred to the horn antenna over time are noted in the milestone description. See AWA Review 2019 Vol 32 pp 165-214 "Early Milestones in Space Communications" and AWA Review 2023 Vol 36 pp 135-193 "Giant Horn Antennas in Space Communications".

A comment about the plaque location -- The work for this achievement was performed a several locations that straddle different IEEE Sections: Bell Labs Murray Hill, Bell Labs Holmdel, Bell Labs Crawford Hill Laboratories, the Holmdel Horn at Crawford Hill, and AT&T Labs Middletown. After conferring with the proposers, the best location for the milestone plaque is the proposed AT&T Museum at Middletown. The Murray Hill location currently owned by Nokia includes a museum that is at risk of closing. Holmdel is under development by realtors. The Crawford Hill Labs building is under development by realtors. The Holmdel Horn itself atop Crawford Hill has been the subject of litigation between the town and real estate developers over preservation strategies. A settlement to preserve the site and the horn was reached in October 2023 (, however development of the site including preservation of the horn and the construction of an education center with a museum have not been determined yet. The AT&T Archives and Museum at Middletown owns many of the historical artifacts on display at the Murray Hill museum. That location, Middletown, currently operates a museum that is expanding and preserving the materials related to the milestone achievement as well as the history of AT&T and Bell Labs research. This is the best and most visible public access location for the proposed milestone plaque. I recommend that the History Committee consider providing tentative approval allowing the History Center to later administer requests (if they are received) for placing additional copies of the milestone plaque (if they are separately funded) at the Crawford Hill Horn site and at the Murry Hill Bell Labs Museum site. This conditional approval, to be considered at the same time as the main milestone proposal, would avoid having to undertake separate determinations later. To date, no such applications or proposals have been received. If no requests are ever made for copies of the plaque, then no further actions are needed.

I fully support the milestone, the single plaque concept to recognize the achievement, and the documentation provided supports the claims.

David Bart Milestone Advocate Treasurer IEEE Historical Committee

Re: Expert Review #2 - David Bart -- Administrator5 (talk) 19:50, 20 November 2023 (UTC)

Dave, very well done! I endorse this, but I do want to point out to the Committee so that they have full knowledge, that in 2014 we gave a Milestone to Bell Labs over four plaques for several achievements (about 25), including "first active communications satellite (1962), first observation of the cosmic background radiation (1964)." The TELSTAR ground station system for television broadcast had already been recognized separately. This was done because the work on our part to recognize 25 separate Milestones would have been overwhelming, and Bell Labs had indicated that they would not host 25 was challenging to get them to agree to four instead of one (previously the transistor and the TAT-1 had been recognized, and both are re-recognized on the multiple plaques; subsequently TAT-8 was recognized because it was not on the original plaque because of the 25-year rule)

I agree that this should be singled out, in part because the Horn is at a separate site. But we need to be careful lest some view this as a precedent to go back and try to separately recognize everything that was already recognized on the multiple plaques.

small citation edit -- Amy Bix (talk) 22:09, 21 November 2023 (UTC)

Assuming that the citation currently being considered is the one on the main page, it looks good to me except that I find the third sentence very ungrammatical and hard to understand, because of passive voice. I recommend rephrasing as: "Invention of solar cells later expanded system capabilities, allowing transmissions to the Telstar active satellite."

Suggested Revisions to the Citation -- Bberg (talk) 22:46, 24 November 2023 (UTC)

I had already communicated with Dave Bart, this proposal's Advocate, about some rewording, and indeed some of those changes were made. Re: the current version, I would discourage the use of parentheticals for the dates in the citation since they prevent the nice flow enabled by incorporating the dates directly into the sentences - and indeed that form of phrasing is virtually always used in Milestone citations. Here is my proposed 69-word version, which I feel reads smoothly and clearly:

Project Echo, a 1959-1961 government-commercial collaboration, produced a long-distance wireless communication system in Holmdel, New Jersey, which employed a novel tracking horn-reflector antenna, maser preamplifier, and FM demodulator. This low-noise receiver provided the first high-quality long-distance voice circuit via passive satellite. Solar cell’s invention enabled Telstar’s active satellite transmissions in 1962-1963. Experiments and analysis in 1964-1965 discovered cosmic background radiation, thereby demonstrating the Big Bang’s formation of the Universe.

I note that my 10-word sentence re: Telstar is shorter than Amy Bix's 15-word version.

The supporting infomation includes very lengthy paragraphs -- Bberg (talk) 00:31, 27 November 2023 (UTC)

Both the "Details of the plaque mounting" and the "What is the historical significance of the work" sections include some very lengthy paragraphs. These should be broken up to aid their readability. For the "historical significance" section, you should include some boldfaced/underlined headers to break up the information as well - particularly since this proposal encompasses 3 separate but linked accomplishments. It would be a shame to leave the detailed information in this format since it discourages it being read.

Revised Plaque Wording -- Jbart64 (talk) 01:03, 29 November 2023 (UTC)

I agree with the suggestions made regarding the plaque wording. Minor edits in the last sentence result in:

"Project Echo, a 1959-1961 government-commercial collaboration, produced a long-distance wireless communication system in Holmdel, New Jersey, which employed a novel tracking horn-reflector antenna, maser preamplifier, and FM demodulator. This low-noise receiver provided the first high-quality long-distance voice circuit via passive satellite. The invention of the solar cell enabled Telstar’s active satellite transmissions in 1962-1963. Experiments and analysis in 1964-1965 discovered cosmic background radiation, verifying Big Bang’s formation of the Universe."

Editorial revisions regarding the historical statement, e.g. breaking up paragraphs, are being made by the proposer.

The age of the AT&T Museum is not at issue. The horn is off-limits at the present time for any plaque. Location of the plaque at the nearby museum near the other related exhibits about Echo and Telstar is the only available option. This plaque celebrates the horn, not only the satellites or the satellite ground stations.

Dave Bart

Re: Revised Plaque Wording -- Bberg (talk) 13:23, 29 November 2023 (UTC)

Thanks for those updates. The proposal looks ready for review by the full committee.

Re: Re: Revised Plaque Wording -- Dmichelson (talk) 17:46, 29 November 2023 (UTC)

AT&T Crawford Hill Satellite Earth Station - 1959-1965

"In 1959-1960, NASA and AT&T developed a satellite Earth station near Holmdel, NJ, which included a novel tracking horn-reflector antenna, maser preamplifier, and FM demodulator. This Earth station was used to demonstrate the first high-quality long-distance voice circuit via the Echo passive communication satellite in 1960-1961 and via the active Telstar communications satellite in 1962-1963. Observations conducted in 1964-1965 provided the first indication of the cosmic background radiation associated with the Big Bang."

Re: Re: Re: Revised Plaque Wording -- Kitaugust (talk) 14:29, 4 December 2023 (UTC)
Thank you for your kind suggestions. However, the horn-reflector antenna is in Holmdel, NJ, not near Holmdel, NJ. Also, Dr Robert Wilson prefers Experiments to Observations.

Re: Re: Revised Plaque Wording -- Dmichelson (talk) 18:00, 29 November 2023 (UTC)

There is a much better story to be told than appears in the proposal. Given that the proposal forms the basis for the web page to be developed for public viewing, I recommend that it be sent back to the proposers for substantive revision and upgrade.
Re: Re: Re: Revised Plaque Wording -- Kitaugust (talk) 14:31, 4 December 2023 (UTC)
Thank you so much for your encouragement. We will work on this.

Final approval -- Jbart64 (talk) 20:40, 31 December 2023 (UTC)

The milestone proposal has been updated and reflects everyone's input. No further comments being received, and with the approval of David Bart, Brian Berg, and David Michelson (no further objections) under the final review authority granted by the History Committee at its last meeting, this milestone is approved for submission to the board of directors. David Bart Milestone Advocate