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Air traffic control is a relatively new concept. Although airplanes were invented in 1903 by the Wright brothers, aviation did not become widespread until World War I. As traffic increased, a control system became necessary; at first, pilots used portable radio devices to communicate to people on the ground. After radar was invented during World War II, controllers started to use it to track both civilian and military aircraft. It was not until the late 1950's that a comprehensive air traffic control system was deployed nationwide. This section of the web site traces the history of modern air traffic control as it relates to the development of Mode S. The focus is on the later developments, starting from Project Beacon in 1960, and extending to the Department of Transportation's recommendation to develop a new air traffic control technology, which later became known as Mode S.

The Story of Mode S: An Air Traffic Control Data Link Technology last modified: 12.15.2000