1999 was the last time the International Microwave Symposium was held at the Anaheim Convention Center. The Symposium theme, “The Magic Touch of Microwaves,” was a play off the proximity to Disney’s Magic Kingdom. However, General Chair Bob Eisenhart, writing in the Microwave Journal show issue from that year, preferred to explain the theme in terms of the “magic” that microwave engineers perform. Eisenhart invited attendees to “get together and open your personal 'bag of tricks' to see what all of the presenters and exhibitors have to share.” If Microwave Week is a time to “show the magic,” then not much has changed in 11 years.

Eisenhart talked about the growth of the technical program and the industrial exhibition that year. At the time, the technical program was expanded from three to four days and the interactive forum also grew by one day (from two days to three). The expansion was needed to accommodate more material and avoid the “crunch” that had occurred in previous years as the forums’ popularity had led to standing room only attendance. Not a bad problem to have. In between, there were the usual panel, plenary, rump and focused sessions that are still the hallmark of every Microwave Week. Will this formula ever get old? Who knows and why mess with success?

The plenary session opened with the usual MTT-S dignitaries and featured a keynote from Dr. John Forrest, VP of the Royal Academy of Engineering, on the subject of “Communications Networks for the New Millennium.” What? There wasn’t a keynote about the looming Y2K problem? Maybe microwave engineers are less prone to panic; or being “analog minded,” perhaps the industry wasn’t paying attention to software glitches from digits rolling over. In hindsight, we look pretty smart.

I don’t have a copy of the keynote address, but I’m sure many of our readers can recall the state of mobile communications at the turn of the century and imagine what was said. At the time, we were all living in the 2G world. The first full internet service on mobile phones was introduced by NTT DoCoMo in Japan in 1999. A year later, the first advertising appeared on a mobile phone when a free daily news headline service on SMS text messaging was launched in Finland.

Yes, change was coming. The new millennium introduced packet-switching to replace circuit-switching for data transmission, ushering in 3G technology. A quick scan of the 1999 technical program from the May issue of Microwave Journal revealed the occasional paper on component level technologies that would bring 3G to life (i.e. Fukaya & Takahashi, “A 150 W E-mode GaAs Power FET with 35 percent PAE for W-CDMA Base Station”).

It is an interesting exercise to look back a mere 11 years and ponder life’s changes. While it may not seem that long ago, the state of our progress (on both the technical and business levels) is more than one might have realized, wonderfully frozen in time on the pages of an old issue of Microwave Journal.

Dr. Bob Eisenhart, Chairman of the 1999 IEEE MTT-S IMS in Anaheim