MSR was started at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1960s by a group of EE students interested in building a student radio station.

The Chancellor's office was willing to support an existing student radio station but would not start one. The station's budget started with $500 a year and anything the students could scrounge.

MSR took on the job of designing, acquiring, building, modifying, and deploying the electronic equipment routinely used in a radio station. MSR worked with station management to create a station where none existed before.

The extraordinary efforts by these young engineers were rewarded by the Reagents approving the FM license for Radio KALX in 1967.

After graduation several of the students continued the association in the form of a consulting group. This group did consulting under the name “Modern Systems Research.” As part of this work the group did independent research in various areas of telecommunications including digital microwave, PABX design, voice and data networking, electronic security, and power systems design.

As part of this effort MSR obtained a Western Electric 701B PABX from Pacific Telephone and helped install it at Stanford University for radio station KZSU.

Over the years people have joined and left the group, but it is alive and well through the help of Sam Wood, one of the founders.