Why 50 Ohms

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The answer can be shown in the graph below. This was produced by two researchers, Lloyd Espenscheid and Herman Affel, working for Bell Labs in 1929.

They were going to send RF signals (4 MHz) for hundred of miles carrying a thousand telephone calls. They needed a cable that would carry high voltage and high power. In the graph below, you can see the ideal rating for each. For high voltage, the perfect impedance is 60 ohms. For high power, the perfect impedance is 30 ohms.

This means, clearly, that there is NO perfect impedance to do both. What they ended up with was a compromise number, and that number was 50 ohms.


Compromise-impedances.jpg