History IEEE Norway


 On January 1, 1963, The AIEE and the IRE merged to form the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE. At its formation, the IEEE had 150,000 members, 140,000 of whom were in the United States.

 IEEE Region 8

In the same year, 1963, the Norwegian Section was founded. Region 8, to which Norway Section belongs celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. It was originally founded on 24 April 1962 as Region 9 of the IRE, and its inaugural meeting took place on 6 June 1963 in Geneva. Without changing its boundaries, IRE Region 9 was renamed IEEE Region 8 on 8 January 1963, and the first Region 8 Committee Meeting took place on 22 April 1963, again in Geneva.



The Norway Section was founded in 1963 by IEEE members at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), Kjeller (about 25 km northeast of Oslo). The initiative was taken by (the late) Mr. Knut Endresen. The underlying reason for the foundation was the wish to strengthen international professional relations and contacts. Several Norwegian members had been educated in the US and had experience from student membership there as well as from leading positions in Student Councils at US universities.


The Section had its first meeting on April 18, 1963, at FFI. The following officers were provisionally elected, pending Section approval by the IEEE: Chairman Mr. Knut Endresen (already a Senior Member), Vice Chairman Dr. Andreas Rannestad, Secretary/Treasurer Mr. Michael Brady. The latter, a US citizen working at FFI, had been on the board of Student Sections at the George Washington University and at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Endresen had acquired knowledge about founding a section, and an application was sent to the IEEE Headquarters for approval. It was agreed that a Section Publication of some kind should be started. It was also noted that such a small Section could not (yet) support Chapters.

Already during this first meeting, it was emphasized that IEEE is a professional organization and no union, and thus not competing with other engineering and technical societies in Norway. This had to be explained on several occasions later, because some Norwegians saw the Section as a rival to (then) NIF (now Tekna), the Norwegian Society of Graduate Technical and Scientific Professionals, which is a professional organization as well as a union. Gradually, however, cooperation between the Section and Norwegian national societies with regard to technical meetings was established. This cooperation also led to more frequent Section meetings.

After the foundation, there were short notices in Norwegian technical journals (“Elektroteknisk Tidsskrift” and “Teknisk Ukeblad”) about the Section, its foundation and purpose. It was also mentioned that year (1963) during the annual electronics conference (“Studiemøtet”). This publicity led to a number of inquiries from interested people.


In October 1963, the Norway Section had 51 members of whom 30 lived in the Oslo area.


During the first years of existence, the Section organized meetings at irregular intervals but usually several times a year. At those meetings, in addition to Section business, a talk was always given by some well-known professional on a topic of current interest. One example: On October 1, 1963, a Section Meeting was arranged at the Netherlands-Norwegian reactor school, Kjeller, with a talk entitled “Scientific and Industrial Research and Development in Norway” by Mr. Finn Lied, Director of FFI. Another example: On March 20, 1964, a meeting was arranged at the Institute for Nuclear Energy, Kjeller, with a talk entitled: “The Status of Electronic Computation in Norway” by Mr. Karl Holberg, Director of the Electronics Division of FFI. Also non-members were allowed at those meetings, but (of course) strongly encouraged to apply for membership. A third example: At a meeting on November 9, 1964, a talk entitled “New Developments in Transport Systems for Urban Areas in the USA” was given by Prof. Dr. Lester Hoel (with Norwegian ancestors!).


The technical presentations at that time were often visionary with regard to further development and future aspects. As examples, two presentations in December 1965 and January 1966 can be mentioned. The former was about inertial navigation and the latter about satellite-based navigation. (The world’s first system for navigation by satellites, the Navy Navigation Satellite System or Transit, had become operative for military use in January 1964 and was released for civil use in July 1967.)


At that time, the IEEE required that Section meetings be held only when a minimum of 15 members were present. This requirement could be a problem in view of the small number of Section Members living in the Oslo area (where all meetings were held in the beginning). For that reason, Secretary Brady in March 1964 wrote a letter to Membership Services asking for permission to hold meetings even when a minimum of 25% of Oslo area members (i.e. 6 at that time) were present. Such permission was given. This was economically important for the small section because it received credit in rebates for approved meetings. (All meetings had to be reported to Membership Services on special forms.) As a curiosity, it might be mentioned that Secretary Brady in a written report to Membership Services described how the meetings (which were all held in the evening) competed with the newly established television services in Norway.


Some tens of membership application forms were distributed during 1963. The voting on the by-laws was carried out by mail for members outside the Kjeller area and at a meeting for the Kjeller-based members. Of the stamped and addressed voting-reply cards sent out, 25 % were returned.


The high-ranked IEEE Journals were usually the main reason for memberships. Individual membership fees were often paid by members’ employers as subscriptions for members were much cheaper than non-member subscriptions. Today, this situation has changed somewhat as the Journals are accessible on the web to staff members or institutions (e.g. universities or libraries) paying a certain fee. In this way, the costs and distribution delays of hard copies can be avoided.


After the foundation, the Section was part of IEEE Region 8. Most meetings of the Region at that time were held in Geneva and attended by the Section Chairman and/or the Secretary. Later, the meetings were held at other places, often in the country of the Chairman of the Region.


For the 1964 – 65 administrative year, beginning on July 1, a new Section Chairman was elected, Mr. Magne Eggestad, FFI. The Vice Chairman and the Secretary/Treasurer were re-elected.


In 1965, the Section started publishing a bulletin, “The Norway Vector”, which was also available to non-members.




In Norway Section, there are currently 8 Chapters covering technology areas of importance to Norway. The Chapters are:

  • Antennas and Propagation & Microwave Theory and Techniques;
  • Control Systems;
  • Joint Nordic Education;
  • Industry Application;
  • Oceanic Engineering;
  • Power and Energy;
  • Power Electronics;
  • Signal Processing, Information Theory & Communications.



Below there are some short descriptions of currently active chapters.

The Norwegian Chapter of the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society

The objectives of the Chapter are scientific, literary and educational, striving for the advancement of the theory and practice of electrotechnology, allied branches of engineering, and related arts and sciences, applied to all bodies of water – and the maintenance of high professional and ethical standards among its members and affiliates.


The purpose of the Chapter is to promote close cooperation and exchange of technical information among its members through publications and meetings, and thus fostering the technical and professional growth of its members.


The Chapter addresses all aspects of science, engineering, and technology pertaining to research, development and operations emphasizing all bodies of water. This includes creation of new capabilities and technologies from concept design through prototypes, testing, and operational systems to sense, explore, understand, develop, use, and responsibly manage natural resources.


The Chapter emphasizes maritime communications, environmental surveillance, remote offshore supervision and control, and demanding maritime operations, particularly current and future challenges in the Arctic areas.

Antennas and Propagation & Microwave Theory and Techniques

The Chapter was founded in August 2003. The purpose is to connect people in Norway working with microwave and/or antenna technologies, so they can be inspired by each other and by lectures invited from other countries. In Norway there are several small groups working with these technologies. However, there are not many direct communication channels between these groups. The goal of this Chapter is to organize two or more meetings a year  to connect people in these groups, spreading know-how, arranging discussions and networks. Hence often one-day seminars are held with invited international speakers coming from Europe or the USA.  Combining international speakers with Norwegian speakers at the meetings have inspired many to participate. Different types of meetings will be arranged in the future.





Fifty years ago, the situation in the field of electronics and communications was quite different from what we are used to now: No Internet with its websites and social media, sometimes unreliable telephone and telex connections, satellites were just emerging on the horizon, and so on. Almost all correspondence was done by postal mail. Telex was used for (usually) short messages. FM radios were gaining market shares, but still AM was widely used for broadcasting, on long and medium waves. Short-wave radio, heavily influenced by ionospheric conditions, was used for long-haul communications. Computers were slowly approaching, but their performance was far, extremely far, below what we have today, and the few versions existing were very complicated to handle.


In the following, samples from different areas covered by IEEE members are presented. This is based mainly on interviews with key persons in their fields of activity during these years.


 Physical Electronics


An important field of activity in these years has been and still is Surface Acoustic Waves (SAW). This activity started already in the 1960’s but gained momentum in the 1970’s. The projects were run at the (then) Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH), now Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and the main purpose was development of filters for use in communications satellites. Essential parts of the funding were obtained through development contracts with US companies. As usual in such research, a lot of different (and more or less unexpected) problems had to be solved, e.g. linearity, unwanted conversion from surface waves into volume waves, and substrate problems.


In the 1980’s considerable work was carried out to develop chirp-based filters for separation of frequencies.


After graduation, a student went to a newly established company in southern Norway (AME Space) for commercial exploitation of the SAW filter technology, mainly in satellites. Their first achievements were related to filters for radar altimeters (based on chirp techniques) developed for the European Space Agency (ESA). Filters were also delivered for earth observation satellites. The cooperation between ESA and AME Space and its successors has been and still is very fruitful, and the company (now owned by Kongsberg) is a world leader in making bandpass and stopband filters for satellites. They are now delivering such filters for the Galileo satellites.


The NTH-based SAW group also developed delay lines and reflectors for the analogue car registration systems for traffic control (commercially exploited by the Q-Free company in Trondheim).


In more recent years, CMOS transducers were developed at the same NTNU department.


A patented process for production of components for ultra-sound imagery of intra-muscular activities in the human body (heart and blood vessels) and methods and products for such imagery were originally initiated as student work at the NTH Department of Physical Electronics around 1970. This work was continued (funded by a Norwegian company) and brought to commercialization via Ph.D. work (at the Department of Technical Cybernetics) and industrial developments. Industries have been founded, and today the methods and products are in daily use all over the world.

Radar and microwave activities


People at FFI who were instrumental in the establishment of the Norway Section (see Ch. 2 above) generally worked in the area of radar and microwaves. This was the time when transistors and other semiconductors were taken into use on a large scale. It began with germanium transistors for lower frequencies, but also with semiconductors as microwave generators intended to replace klystrons. The applications were related to the establishment of microwave radio links in Norway. The development had started already when FFI was situated in Bergen, and the results were commercialized by the NERA company.


Several scientists from the radar department at FFI in those days ended up as professors at NTH in Trondheim. The first professorship of this kind (“Teoretisk elektroteknikk”) was manned in 1955.


Also passive microwave components, particularly ferrites, were developed by the research group established at NTH during the 60’s. These activities gradually led to the work on piezo-electric materials and surface acoustic waves described above. Further activities included integrated circuits for high-speed signal processing and optical fibers (both for communications and measurements).


Radio communications and space activities


During the German occupation in World War II, possession of a radio receiver was strictly forbidden, and already existing sets had to be delivered to the authorities. After the war, the hunger for radio sets was enormous, and a lot of manufacturers popped up. During the first 10 – 20 years of Norway Section, one after the other of these factories (most of them small) ceased to exist. Some of them embarked on production of TV sets in the 1960’s, but after the first decade(s) of euphoria it turned out to be even difficult to survive on such production. Research and development for the mass markets largely stopped in the 1970s.


In the 1960s, satellite communications started to be of interest, and the first transatlantic link was established in 1962 (“Early Bird”). About 1970 geostationary satellites were taken into use, and dedicated signaling techniques had to be developed. Norwegians took part in this development, at the beginning by working for international organizations such as NATO and ESA. As examples of specific technical problems at that time, satellite transponder saturation and intermodulation can be mentioned.


In 1964, an international organization, Intelsat Ltd, was founded for the purpose of establishing and running a world-wide network of satellite communications. Norway was a member from the beginning. A ground station for all the Nordic countries was built at Tanum in south-west Sweden with Norwegian participation. The station gradually became obsolete and was closed down in 2008.


For terrestrial mobile telephone communications, the fully automatic networks NMT-450 and NMT-900 (NMT = Nordic Mobile Telephone) became operational in 1981 and 1986, respectively. These systems with large coverage were the first of this kind in Europe. They were closed down in 2004 and 2001, respectively, when the first generations of GSM (also with considerable Norwegian participation) had proven reliability and coverage.


Norway was also an active participant in the establishment of INMARSAT (the International Maritime Satellite Organization) for mobile ship communications via three geostationary satellites. It was originally set up at the behest of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a UN organization. The name was later changed into the International Mobile Satellite Organization, and it is now a private company listed on the London Stock Exchange and offering global, mobile services. It provides telephony and data services to users worldwide via portable or mobile terminals which communicate to 29 ground stations through eleven geostationary telecommunications satellites. The first Norwegian land earth station in the INMARSAT system was established at Eik (near Stavanger) in 1982. At Nittedal (just north of Oslo), a large ground station for satellite communications (including TV) was established in 1986. A gradual expansion to some 50 large antennas took place in the years following.


As a consequence of the new offshore activities, the Norwegian Telecommunications Authority (“Televerket”, from 1995 Telenor) established the first European domestic satellite system in 1976, called NORSAT. Its purpose was communications to the oil/gas rigs in the North Sea.


EUTELSAT (the European Telecommunications Satellite Organization) was established with Norwegian participation by the European Telecommunications Authorities in 1977. Today, EUTELSAT covers more than 150 countries in all parts of the world.


The research institute of Televerket (“Televerkets Forskningsinstitutt”) was established at the end of 1967 at FFI but moved onto own premises at Kjeller in 1973. Among other very important tasks, it ran the research project MARSAT (subject: maritime satellite communications) in the 1970’s with assistance by ELAB-SINTEF in Trondheim and Nera Satcom at Billingstad (west of Oslo).


In 1981, Norway became an associated member of ESA (the European Space Agency), INMARSAT and COSPAS/SARSAT (a system of low-orbit search-and-rescue satellites). In the same year, a satellite ground station at Longyearbyen (Svalbard, at 78°N) was inaugurated, enabling telephone communications with mainland Norway via a geostationary satellite, which at that latitude is just visible above the horizon. In 2004, the communications capacity to this group of islands was considerably improved and increased by means of two sub-sea fibre cables.


The Norwegian Space Centre was established in 1987 when Norway became full member of ESA. It coordinates space activities in Norway and towards ESA and the European Union (EU), including Galileo and framework research programmes.


In 1983, Norway established a downlink ground station for the Search-and-Rescue (SAR) COSPAS-SARSAT system in Tromsø which at that latitude gives excellent receiving capabilities for low-orbit satellites with such high inclinations (98°) as all passes are detected.


When the new automated maritime Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) was developed in the 1980s to replace the manual Morse system, Norway was a contributor and one of the most active promotors. The Digital Selective Calling technique (DSC) became the cornerstone of the system, and Televerkets Forskningsinstitutt (see above) developed the terminal (called MADIS) that was used in ITU’s global test program for the DSC system (ITU = International Telecommunication Union).


As shipping and ships’ safety always have been fundamental in Norway, the sudden sinking of large ships at the end of the 1970s (the Berge Istra, the Berge Vanga, the Norse Variant and the Anita) without any radiated messages or distress signals upset the country and led to the development of float-free devices called EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) that float free if a vessel is sinking and starts sending distress messages. EPIRBs operating in the COSPAS-SARSAT system are an essential part of the GMDSS and are mandatorily installed on all international ships.