Ralph Justus, who for many years was at the center of technology developments in U.S. broadcasting and consumer electronics, has died.
He was known in our industry through roles at the Federal Communications Commission, National Association of Broadcasters, Consumer Electronics Association and Electronics Industries Alliance. Among other accomplishments he was credited with playing an “instrumental” role in the development of digital TV standards starting in the late 1990s.
According to his obituary, he died at age 72. Justus finished his career as a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent Office.
According to a 2004 profile published by the Advanced Television Systems Committee, Justus started in broadcast technology in the late 1970s as supervisory electronics engineer of the FCC Television Branch and a staff engineer in the AM and FM radio branches.
In 1983 he moved to the NAB to become director of engineering, regulatory and international affairs, working on issues involving radio and television technologies, auxiliary and satellite systems, spectrum management, proceedings at federal agencies including the FCC, EPA, FAA, Department of State and participation in the International Telecommunications Union, according to the ATSC article.
He then moved over to become director of engineering for the CEA (now called the Consumer Technology Association), where he worked on radio and TV system design and performance, TV antennas, audio technologies, regulatory activities and consumer electronics/cable TV compatibility.
John Casey, now the publisher of Radio World, was involved in the 1990s as a manufacturer representative on working groups of the National Radio Systems Committee.
“He was one of the true voices of integrity when I was involved in the NRSC working groups for RDS and DAB standards,” Casey said of Justus. “He was a major mover for us to get new technology tested and the standards drafted. He definitely left his fingerprints on radio’s evolution.”
For several years starting in 1999 Justus chaired the ATSC Technology Group on Distribution, or T3. In that role he was “instrumental in guiding many new DTV standards,” according to the 2004 article.
In 2003 Justus also was elected president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Consumer Electronics Society, according to a Radio World story at the time. He also was a former president of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society.
At the CEA he was promoted after eight years to the post of vice president of technology and standards, a position he held until he left in 2005, according to his LinkedIn page. He later worked for the Building Performance Institute and as a consultant before joining the USPTO in 2012, working on radio, television and satellite communications, telecom technologies and intellectual property patent applications.
Justus also was active in technical organizations such as SMPTE and the AES. He was a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.