Skip to Main Content
Regularly scheduled radio broadcasting began in the United States in 1920, and just ten years later the majority of U.S. homes contained a radio. Radio engineering made great advances in this decade, particularly in the design of radio receivers. The engineering profession, notably the Institute of Radio Engineers, a predecessor society of the IEEE, made a vital contribution by devising and standardizing means of measuring the performance of radio receivers. The IRE standards, published in 1928, defined three fundamental properties of receivers-sensitivity, selectivity, and fidelity-and specified procedures for measuring them. These standards made it easier for engineers to design a system as a whole and to optimize overall performance while keeping the projected cost of a receiver at a particular level; they served the engineering community by making possible unambiguous communication; they were valuable to manufacturers for quality control; and they made it easier for purchasers to evaluate and compare radios.