1. Dr. Lars Engvall
  2. Frederick Gall, PEng
  3. Prof. Tjeng T. Tjhung
  4. Letters of appreciation, 1955-75
  5. H.J. von Baeyer's self-evaluation

1. Dr. Lars Engvall

(lars [at] engvall.org)

April 2006

Hans Jacob von Baeyer was the Satellite Data Transmission Expert for the Middle East & Mediterranean Telecommunication Project from 1975 to 1978. I was the Project Manager of this UN/ITU (International Telecommunication Union) regional program, later renamed MEDARABTEL.

The project saw a dramatic start. Its offices were initially set up in Beyrouth, Lebanon. Due to the war that started in the area about the same time, a new project location had to be found rapidly. It was decided to move the field office headquarters to Athens, Greece, at the kind invitation of the Greek Telecommunication Authority, OTE.

Hans was one of the first experts who joined the project once it was established in Athens. He came to stay with the project team until the survey of the MEDARABTEL network was completed. The project team had at its maximum 12 experts and these came from a large number of countries (Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Jordan, Sweden, Syria and UK). Hans was one of those who stayed with the project the longest time.

The project had the great challenge of developing solutions together with the project countries' experts for the future development of telecommunications in this region. With the rapid development of wealth in the region due to the expanding oil industry and the sudden change of oil prices that quadrupled in 1973, the telecommunication development in the Middle East, in particular, created a fast-growing demand.

The tasks that Hans had to perform were most interesting and he enjoyed this challenge very much. The development of a regional satellite system for the Arab World, ARABSAT, was first studied by the ITU Project Team, where Hans had a key role. The decision of forming this satellite organization used the project findings for the decisions that were taken by the Arab League. The study also included the first studies of the submarine cables that were to be laid from the Far East to the Arab countries. Then there were many field surveys in all the member countries where Hans and his colleagues had to do extensive field visits and measurements. Most of these interesting studies were subsequently implemented.

Hans had a very good understanding of the important process of discussing the work with our colleagues from the member countries, whom we met frequently during field missions, regional meetings and seminars that were held during the project period.

It is therefore a great pleasure for me to submit my great appreciation for Hans' contribution to our work. Our teamwork made a strong impression on all the experts who had a role to play, and, although the years have gone by, we still keep in touch and remember the challenging days we shared.


2. Frederick Gall


February 2006

I had joined the Canadian Marconi Company (CMC) in Montreal in August 1953 to work in Radio Relay which was the transmission by radio of multi-channel telephony. In April 1954, CMC loaned me to the Department of Defence Production of the Government of Canada. I was assigned to the Pinetree Project Office (PPO) to work with Dr. Hans von Baeyer, beginning a 16-year professional association, and a friendship which lasted nearly 40 years. The professional association comprised two years in the PPO, part of the Department of Defence Production, and then from 1960-1970 HvB and I were partners in the consultancy firm InterTel Consultants Ltd. which in 1967 became Acres InterTel Ltd.

Prior to his immigrating to Canada in 1952, HvB had spent the decade of 1935-45 in the R & D Labs of Telefunken in Germany. We never had much discussion about his Telefunken career, but I believe it correct to say that he had really wished to be in small particle physics (his degrees and doctorate had been in this field), but the political situation in Germany, with which he was not in sympathy, made it advisable that he keep a lower profile in industry rather than in the more visible milieu of what was clearly developing into applied atomic physics. He left Germany in the dying days of the war, nominally going to attend some vital last minute conference, the urgency of which justified his getting to go by car, thereby enabling him to port his family to Switzerland, including one small son concealed in an equipment box!

He spent the period 1945-1952 as head of the microwave development group of Brown Boveri and Co. of Switzerland. In this period he did archetypical theoretical research in multi-(voice)channel transmission by line-of-sight radio from 150 MHz up to microwave frequencies, at the same time supervising the practical application of his theoretical work in the development and production of relay systems for telephone networks (Swiss Post Office) and the Swiss military.

Work on the Early Warning Defence lines 1952-1960

In 1952 HvB and family immigrated to Canada and, with his background, was quickly in demand for the development and application of the defence systems beginning to burgeon in the early days of the Cold War. HvB's responsibilities were quickly directed to the telecommunications requirements of the three defence lines - viz. the Pinetree Project (near the US border), the Mid-Canada Line (from Labrador to northern British Columbia), and the DEW Line (in the far north).

From 1952 to 1955, he was Chief Systems Engineer in the Pinetree Project Office, a joint Canada-US defence agency. His purview included the telecommunications for the Pinetree Project, the first of the trans-Canada early warning radar systems against Soviet bombers. (The 'early' refers to the defence of the U.S.)

In this period, HvB was appointed Design Authority for the Polevault system, a long-hop multichannel system based on the new technology of tropospheric scatter. This technology exploited the scattering of high-power (10-20 kw) UHF signals (450-940 MHz) by the dielectric inhomogeneities in the troposphere. A tiny fraction of the signal could be detected at distances much greater (200-800 km) than the strictly line-of-sight (50-70 km) limitation of normal multi-channel usage. As well as the high-power transmitter requirements, large high-gain antennas were used to achieve greater equivalent over-all signal power. Tropospheric scatter transmission as a vehicle for remote area usage such as the Polevault system had only a brief reign, being rendered obsolete by the introduction of satellite technology.

Link to maps showing the Pinetree Line with the Polevault communication system as well as the Mid-Canada Line and DEW Line, mid-1950s. Photo of a typical DEW Line station.

Watch Mid-Canada Radar Line Is Unveiled, a 1-minute silent newsreel, 1956.

The Pinetree Project Office (PPO – located in No. 3 Temporary Building, at the north end of, and athwart, Lyon Street in Ottawa) was thus a hive of industry manned by a combined Canadian-American team of military and civilian personnel. Activities ranged from nuts-and-bolts logistical problems through systems engineering to a quite high level of theoretical analyses as were required from time to time, particularly in support of the Polevault Tropospheric Scatter system, which was the first major operational system of this new technology. HvB was the senior Canadian civilian sharing overall command/management with American and Canadian military officers. (I might interject that the PPO was a prime example of the Canada-US co-operation, effective and mutually respecting, that obtained during the early years of the Cold War. Of course at that time, Canadian military standing was much higher and more credible than it is today. As far as the PPO was concerned, HvB was regarded by Canadians and Americans alike with great respect and cordial esteem.)

Overlapping the Pinetree Project was the engineering and deployment of the Mid-Canada Line, earlier known as the McGill Fence, alluding to the novel use of Doppler directional detection of targets by their penetrating, in turn, two parallel fan-shaped radar beams. The telecommunications comprised a 470-490 MHz relay system (Canadian Marconi DQ 38 of 48 voice-channel capacity: each of the multiplexed voice channels could carry 24 multiplexed telegraph channels). The radar information was digitized and transmitted (at a speed of 60 baud) over the telegraph channels to the control centre. Thus the essentially real-time information enabled the dispatch and control of the responding fighter aircraft. HvB went on to become Chief Engineer of the Systems Engineering Group of the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1955 to 1958 during the creation of the Mid-Canada Line.

Specific examples of technological analytical work carried out by HvB in 1952-70 period

The transmission of information by one or other method of fixed amplitude pulse techniques was established during the 1950s as a valid and practical methodology. Perhaps the most fundamental as well as startling then-and-now differences is the speed of pulse transmission, via both wire and radio media. In the 1950s it was a given, firmly held, that the maximum frequency range transmissible through a standard voice channel was 4 kilohertz (strictly approx. 100-3700 hertz). This effectively limited the number of telegraph (typically teletype) channels which could be multiplexed into a voice channel to 24, each running at 60 baud. Thus if dial-up Internet connections had been attempted, the maximum speed would have been some 1,440 baud, of course totally useless practically. Even over an indifferent-quality copper-pair telephone line today, speeds of 32,000 baud and up are readily achievable. Much of this advance marched in step with the transistor and printed circuit evolutions, but of course the hardware relies on underlying theoretical bases.

HvB did extensive and seminal work in the transmission side of this field, including:

(This and three succeeding studies dealt with various aspects of the transmission of pulses (or bits) illustrating the theoretical bases underlying the physical transmission mechanisms)

Projects of significant interest carried out by the InterTel consultancy firms under HvB's presidency

(1964-67) ECM and ECCM (Electronic Counter Measures and Electronic Counter Counter-Measures).

This was a program for the development of the subject systems for the Royal Canadian Navy. Significant in that it involved an early use of computer simulation employing our G-15 computer, which had a magnetic drum RAM, used punched paper tape for input and an IBM electrical typewriter for output, and had a CPU based on 150 vacuum tube multi-vibrators.

(1963-66) Design Authority for the AN/GRC-103 Tactical Multi-channel Radio Relay.

This was a project of the Defence Production Sharing program in which Canada could 'bid' to respond to the US military's shopping lists of its requirements in various fields. If a Canada-developed system in this program was accepted by the US customer, Canada would participate in the production, manufacture and supply of the system for deployment by the US customer, and also to market the item to any other NATO allies who might be interested. As Design Authority, HvB creatively dominated and supervised the design and prototype construction of this system. It turned out that the AN/GRC-103 was a great success and over the years was much in demand by the US and NATO forces. Although any approved defence manufacturer (US or Canadian) was free to bid on its supply, in practice the Canadian manufacturers who had participated in the prototype development under the Design Authority had a virtual monopoly because of their head start in the production and manufacture.

(1961-64) The Norcom Microwave System

This project was primarily concerned with the economic provision of television coverage over a thinly-populated area. The area concerned was an approximately 20,000 square mile region of northwestern Ontario. The Norcom company entered a contract with the CBC to provide TV coverage at a relatively far lower rate than any competing approach. InterTel provided a fairly novel system design, then supervised its construction and installation requirements. In due course this system was rendered completely obsolete with the advent of TV relayed by satellite

(1960-1970) Overseas Projects

Many projects broadly similar in scope to the Norcom System were undertaken for overseas clients. Examples include the telecommunications authorities in Nicaragua (as part of the rebuilding program following the 1972 Managua earthquake); in Ecuador, a system to interconnect the capital Quito in the high Andes with its main Pacific port, Guayaquil; in Chile where a survey was undertaken for a possible tropospheric scatter system to provide interconnection to Tierra del Fuego in the extreme south, the idea being finally abandoning when it became clear that the possibility of a satellite link was clearly becoming real.

Advisory and Commission Services

From time to time, the consultancies were called upon to provide advisory services such as that of expert witnessing, and to participate in various government commissions. Major examples include:

(1961) HvB was called upon to participate in the 'Glassco' Commission (Royal Commission on Government Organization) as Consultant in Communications. His purview essentially included complete coverage of telecommunications usage by the Federal Government, analysis of its operational inadequacies and shortcomings, recommendations for its radical improvement.

(1968-69) HvB was appointed to head the Government Commission on Computer Communications.


3. Prof. Tjeng T. Tjhung

Principal Scientist, Institute for InfocommResearch, Singapore

May 2006

Hans Jacob von Baeyer taught me the course on Transmission Lines while I was in my final year at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Carleton University in 1962. I was then a Colombo Plan scholar from Indonesia. His lectures were interesting – he would simplify many complicated concepts in electromagnetic field theory and replace them with easy-to-understand physical explanations. I liked his lectures and scored an A.

On one summer vacation, HvB offered me analysis and computation work at his InterTel Consultants Ltd. in Ottawa. He was then quite enthusiastically involved in new development work on an FM transceiver for pulse code modulated voice transmission. Many thought that FM transmission of digital data would require an enormous amount of bandwidth. He thought otherwise. By using a small frequency deviation and shaping of the pulse before and after modulation the transmission bandwidth can be significantly reduced. He was later proven correct when Postl in Germany published an analytic formula for the power spectral density of binary FM signal. Further computation showed that a frequency deviation of 0.7 times the bit rate produced an almost rectangular spectrum leading to high bandwidth efficiency.

HvB started me then to derive the power spectral density of the binary FM with pre-modulation pulse shaping. This was to further improve the bandwidth efficiency. We were successful in this effort and the work led me to a Master of Engineering thesis at Carleton University. Throughout my Master of Engineering studies I received constant guidance and encouragement from HvB. In the meantime, HvB also helped to develop successfully, with Canadian Marconi, the PCM FM transceiver called GRC-103.

I was very much inspired by this work with HvB and continued on, working for a Ph.D. degree at Queen's University, Kingston, Canada. I carried with me many ideas from my work at InterTel Ltd. to form the basis for my Ph.D. thesis. At Queen's, Paul Wittke supervised me. My Ph. D. work produced an optimum set of system parameters for binary FM transmission: a frequency deviation of 0.7 times the bit rate and an RF bandwidth of one times the bit rate. HvB had earlier predicted this conclusion, and I would prove it both theoretically and experimentally.

My recent reading of the numerous patents filed by him in Germany, France, and USA on various pulse modulation systems vindicated my belief that he has been a pioneer in the field of digital communications at a very early date.

HvB has been a great teacher for me. His wisdom and rigorous attitude towards research has guided me in my later academic life in Singapore, as a telecommunications educator and researcher for nearly forty years. I named my second son Hans in his honor.


4. Letters of Appreciation

5. Hans Jakob von Baeyer's own, typically modest, self-evaluation

"My strengths professionally come from a strong base in physics, in principles, with a native ability to co-ordinate and combine apparently contradictory demands to the satisfaction of those concerned. My role is that of accepting the visions of others and suggesting ways to realize them."

Listen to Hans Jakob as he looks back on his career and how he did his work (6-minute audio recording, MP3 format). He is in conversation with his grandson Chris von Baeyer in the garden of his home in Low, Quebec, April 1992. Editing and restoration by Blue Bear Sound, Ottawa.