The Tele and Radio Research Institute, ITR, has its origins in 1929, when a Radio Research Institute was created, with the aim of conducting research in the field of radioelectronics. It had departments for electron tubes, emission control, magnetic and piezoelectric materials and a testing department. The Radio Research Institute was merged in April of 1934 with the Telecommunications Laboratory of the Post and Telegraph Ministry, creating the National Telecommunications Institute, which was located in the buildings of the National Communications Works (the Works were transferred to another location), at ul. Ratuszowa 11 in Warsaw. The Tele and Radio Research Institute has been based in these buildings (expanded and remodelled many times) ever since. The most eminent Polish radioelectronics scientist, Professor Janusz Groszkowski, was appointed as the director of the newly created National Telecommunications Institute. To commemorate the long and illustrious career of Professor Groszkowski at the Institute and his contribution to the development of Polish electronics, his bust was placed in 1988 in front of the main entrance to the Institute. The Institute had three departments: radio technology, telecommunications technology and postal technology. It conducted research into radio electronics, continuing and developing the work which was previously carried out at the Radio Research Institute. This was pioneering work in the development of Polish radio electronics. In the following years, the Institute grew and expanded the scope of its research work. In 1935, a television department was established, which was the first of its kind in the country. The work of this department enabled the creation of the first television station in Poland, in the ‘Prudential’ building, in 1937. On the eve of the Second World War, 350 scientists and technicians were employed at the Institute. During the German occupation, the ‘Werkstatt für Fernmeldetechnik’ unit operated on the site of the Institute. After the war, in April 1945, the Institute renewed its operations under the management of Professor Janusz Groszkowski. The dynamic development of the Institute resulted in the creation of a department in Gdańsk in 1950, which specialised in problems relating to radio navigation. Then in 1950, another department was set up in Wrocław, which dealt with metrology issues and microwave materials technology. In 1951, the Institute was divided into the Industrial Telecommunications Institute and the Communications Institute. As a part of the subsequent reorganisation of the research and development centres, in May 1956, the Tele and Radio Research Institute was created by combining the ITI and the Central Engineering Telecommunications Office. The initiator of the establishment of the Institute and its first director was Kazimierz Cieliszak, MSc Eng.
Deputy directors (Stefan Darecki, PhD MSc Eng, Stanisław Ignatowicz, MSc Eng).
During the Second World War there was an interruption in the activity of the National Telecommunications Institute, and the German Werstatt für Fernmeldetechnik operated in the same location. Right after the liberation of Prague, in the autumn of 1944, the former employees restored the National Telecommunications Institute on their own. The Institute was under the authority of the Post and Telegraph Ministry until 1951 and its activity had an inter-ministerial character. Professor Janusz Groszkowski continued as the Institute’s Director. By order of the Chairman of the National Economic Planning Committee in mid-1951, the National Telecommunications Institute was divided into two: the Industrial Telecommunications Institute under the Heavy Industry Ministry and the Communications Institute under the Post and Telegraph Ministry, which after a few years was moved from Ratuszowa Street to a new building in Międzyszyn in Szachowa Street.
Between the years 1951 and 1956, there were further organisational changes, as a result of which in 1956, part of the National Telecommunications Institute, which was concerned with telecommunications, radio research and radio technology, was merged with the Central Telecommunications Office. This created the Tele and Radio Research Institute with its seat at 11, Ratuszowa Street. The focus of the Industrial Telecommunications Institute was directed towards the field of radio location and microwave research and it was moved to 30, Poligonowa Street. Kazimierz Cieliszak MSc Eng became the first director of the Tele and Radio Research Institute and remained in this position until 1967. The Tele and Radio Research Institute had three research and development departments at the time of its establishment (1956): tele research, radio research and technological departments, each divided into five units. In addition, an ITR Experimental Unit was established. The Institute initially employed 450 people, including 140 employees in the Experimental Unit. During the following year, a second Experimental Unit was opened in Warsaw and a third in Bydgoszcz, as ‘auxiliary holdings’ managed by the Institute. In 1957, three of the Institute’s research and development departments were merged into one single research and development section and in addition, a general technology section was created. The third, administrative section did not undergo any significant changes. Over the following five years the Institute, which developed its research and development and technical activities, also formed the base for the creation of new organisational units, and in particular:
- in 1957, following the establishment of the National Teletransmission Unit, the Wired Teletransmission Unit was transferred over to it from the Institute;
- in 1958, one of the Institute's Experimental Units became independent, and as a manufacturing plant for miniature components and hearing aids, became known as ‘Omig’ Radio Component Works, under the control of the Association of Electronic and Teletechnical Industries;
- in 1959, two units were separated from the Institute: Switching Teletechnics and Phone Instrumentation. Then an independent unit was created called the Teletechnics Research and Studies Unit, under the supervision of the Association of the Teletechnical Industry;
- in 1960, the second ITR Experimental Unit was incorporated into the ‘Letra’ Electrotechnical Product Works in Bydgoszcz, as an independent radiometric manufacturing department;
- in 1964, the third Experimental Unit, located in Wrocław, which specialised in digital measuring techniques, was transferred to the then established ‘MERA’ Association.
Transferring the entire ITR units to other organisational units enabled the Institute to specialise strictly in electronics, after which in 1958, the Institute was incorporated into the Electronic Industry Association, to provide research and development support to the industry. The activities of the research and development section concentrated on issues relating to electronic components, systems and devices and process lines. Research into material science and electronic systems was also important. The organisational structure of the Institute, which became stable in the first five years of its existence, remained in force until 1970 and included two main research and development sections:
Systems & Equipment (comprising five Units: Teleautomation, Radiotechnical Metrology, Radiocommunications, Radio Research and Television) managed by Professor A. Wojnar, PhD MSc Eng, and Technological and Components (comprising five Units: New Technologies, Piezoelectronics, Magnetic Materials, Techno-Climatic Research and Small Designs) managed by A. Czechowski, PhD MSc Eng.
On the basis of the experience and conclusions obtained from many years of the Institute’s activities and a broad discussion on the future of the Institute, in 1970, significant organisational changes took place. The ITR’s research and development activities were mainly focused on passive component design and technology. This meant regrouping of a significant R&D potential into one of the most neglected (at that time) areas of the national electronic industry. At the same time, the Radio Research, Radiocommunications and Television departments were transferred in January 1970 to the Industrial Telecommunications Institute, and the Hybrid Microelectronics Centre was transferred to the Industrial Electronics Institute. Therefore, the general profile established at that time obliged the Institute to conduct academic, research and development and commercialisation works in the area of the design and technology of: resistors, capacitors, magnetic elements, power supplies, printed circuits, contact elements, piezoelectronic elements and electroacoustic transducers. Within the scope of the aforementioned specialisations, the activities included all the areas comprising the development of modern component designs and technologies. This included material science and selected issues in material engineering, the design of specialised technological devices, and finally technological metrology issues, with the design and manufacturing of technological and measurement instrumentation. In 1972, following the decision of the Machine Industry Ministry, the scope of ITR’s activities was expanded to cover ultrasound technology and its technological applications in the economy, in particular the electronic industry. As part of the Institute's everyday activities, these tasks required the expansion of research teams adapted to the new scope of activity, and the acquisition of new, appropriate research equipment. Between the years 1970 to 1973, the Institute experienced an increase in employment in its core activity of approximately 50%. The problem of research equipment, in particular modern technological instrumentation suited to the fields of activity, was also successively solved by obtaining funds in foreign currencies and by purchasing equipment from leading global companies. A very important event in the life of Institute was the conclusion of the expansion stage of the ITR after many years, and the commissioning in December 1972 of a modern technological building and waste-water treatment unit. There was a significant improvement in occupational safety and health conditions, which enabled the completion of complex technological works. In 1974, there were some organisational changes, which included the creation of an RLC Components Unit, by merging two of the Institute’s units (the Magnetic Components Unit and the Discrete Components Unit). The Electroacoustic Components Unit was transferred to the Industrial Electronics Institute. In mid-1975, the Quality and Reliability Testing Centre was transferred to the Unitech Technical & Commercial Company.
In 1976, the Piezoelectric Filters Unit was established, which was mainly focused on piezoelectric filters and delay lines. In January 1975, the Tele and Radio Research Institute was temporarily merged with the ELPOD Passive Components Industrial Complex. In 1976, the Institute was handed over the duties of the coordinator of direction 2 ‘passive components’ in the National Development Programme PR3, called ‘Development of materials and components for the expansion of the electronics industry’. In 1977, the Industry Centre for Development of Standards and Quality Control was established by the Institute, in order to serve the needs of the UNITRAElektron Association.
The changes which began in the 80s have fully confirmed the usefulness of the Institute for the economy, and its work was necessary for manufacturing processes in many industrial factories, not only those under the Metallurgy and Machine Industry Ministry.
The work of the ITR in that period included the following fields:
The crisis of the 90s and economic reforms caused revolutionary changes both in the Institute and its parent institutions. The Industrial Complexes and Associations were abolished, and the Institute came under the direct control of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The biggest post-war collapse of the whole economy, and especially the electronics industry, almost caused the collapse of the Institute. The lack of contracts from the electronic industry and the very modest financial support from the state budget, when compared to its needs, forced the Institute to take several measures, and mainly to:
1. Close all basic research and general technology divisions which did not bring measurable economic profits and reduce the administration and services to a necessary minimum. As a result, total employment compared to 1989, was reduced by over 50% (approximately 200 persons).
2. Intensively search for new customers, including from areas outside the electronics industry.
3. Manage existing resources in the most economical way possible. The aforementioned activities and the determination and creativity of the employees enabled the Institute not only to survive this difficult situation, but also to take advantage of the opportunities offered by its immense knowledge and experience to find new business opportunities in new niches, where electronics determines market competitiveness and innovation. One such example is power engineering electronics, for which the Institute has established a dominant position and continues to develop in this area.