The Rome Laboratory, formerly known as the Rome Air Development Center, is a research and development lab run by the US Air Force located at Griffiss AFB in Rome, NY. One of four superlabs run by the Air Force, the Rome Lab is tasked with generic research, as opposed to having a specific area of study. Over the years since it was founded, the Rome Lab has made major contributions to computing, command and control automation, and pure engineering.
During WWII, the Norden bombsight was built at the Rome site, and large airplane engines were rebuilt and tested. These buildings were converted after the war into offices and laboratories. Development of the Rome Lab started in 1948, when several small teams were sent to Griffiss from Watson Laboratories and the Middletown testing units at Middletown, Pennsylvania. The Senate Armed Services Committee recommended that the base become official, and President Harry Truman signed their bill on September 26, 1950 to establish an "Air Force Electronics Center". The remaining staff at Watson moved in during 1951, and RADC was officially opened on June 12th, 1951.
One of their earliest experiments involved the construction of the Forestport Tower, a 1205 foot high transmission antenna used for low-frequency communications experiments. Testing units were also involved in final acceptance of various radar units, and did considerable basic research on antenna design and radio navigation system. These areas remained their primary research focus through the 1950s.
In the early 1960s the Air Force planned a major overhaul of its various research divisions, planning on reducing the total number to seven. RADC was to become the Air Force Electromagnetics Laboratory, while Edwards AFB would host the Rocket Propulsion and Weapons labs, and Wright-Patterson AFB would host Materiels, Avionics, and the Air Force Flight Dynamic Laboratories. However these plans did not come to fruition, although it did change the RADC's reporting chain and caused some confusion in the meantime.
In the 1960s, the focus changed to that of intelligence gathering, and automation of the flow of the gathered information. RADC offered a number of contracts in automated film processing, supercomputers, various computer memory systems, high-resolution display systems, and were even involved in early attempts at machine translation to quickly make "first pass" translations of Russian documents.
In the late 1960s, RADC let a contract for the AN/TRN-26 man transportable TACAN to be used in Vietnam. This unit was developed, tested, and manufactured by Ling-Temco-Vought - Salt Lake City, Utah. Not being available in time to be used in Vietnam, the first units went to Israel, and Camp David. Mort Setrin, a developer of the radar IFF, was also a researcher at this time and helped analyze ways to jam Russian radars.
In December 1991 the name was changed to Rome Laboratories. Their basic areas of research, communications, radar, intelligence and command and control, have remained the focus of the lab until today. As the power of civilian computers have increased, the Lab has focused more on software than hardware.