32 & 16 Years Ago
JANUARY 2006 (Vol. 39, No. 1) pp. 14-15
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32 & 16 Years Ago
  Article Contents  
  January 1974  
  January 1990  
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January 1974
NEW CURRICULUM (p. 7). "Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, has recently established a curriculum on Computer and Systems Engineering. Baccalaureate, masters', and professional programs are now available in addition to the Institute's existing doctoral program. The curriculum will emphasize the philosophy and methodology of systems engineering as well as the theory and application of computers.
"The fundamentals of dynamic systems, operations research, computers, computing, and computer languages are required, and form a unified base from which one or more areas of application are studied."
SOFTWARE DESIGN AUTOMATION (p. 11). "… Because of the expense it is not practical to develop design-specific D[esign] A[utomation] systems. Designers of DA systems are thus confronted with the task of building 'large, generalized, flexible' (software) systems with very little design assistance from the computer. If only we had systems which apply the computer and computer techniques to automate (or at least facilitate) the design of software: software design automation! Unfortunately, while the theory underlying the application of computers in the design of computing hardware has developed thoroughly, keeping pace (or nearly so) with the developing technology, the implementation of this theory remains a difficult, mostly manual exercise in the design of programs and programming systems."
MOS ARTWORK (p. 27). "The design automation program described here has replaced a manual design process involving a digitizer at GTE Laboratories. It allows many more circuits to be designed, and has contributed to the increasing popularity of custom M[etal] O[xide] S[emiconductor] circuits. The low cost of MOS circuit design, due to the complete package of design automation programs including logic simulation, is allowing other GTE companies to begin their own MOS design activities.
"The success of this program is due mainly to its flexibility which it provides without requiring a great deal of manual effort, and to its low operating cost which allows its use as a design tool. This encourages the designer to experiment with it and to optimize his results."
LSI MICROPROCESSING (p. 35). "It is common to talk about the 'computer on a chip,' but … examples of existing minicomputers actually use many tens of chips. A more accurate statement of the status today might be 'processor on a chip,' though even that is not quite representative: often separate chips are used for ROM, RAM and ALU plus registers. Many additional chips are used to interface to the I/O peripherals."
CMOS MEMORY MODULE (p. 49). "A new CMOS scratch-pad memory module built with a company-designed CMOS memory chip was introduced by Rolm Corporation, manufacturer of the Ruggednova line of severe environment minicomputers.
The CMOS memory combines the high speed of bipolar technology and the high density of MOS with extremely low power dissipation. In addition, the chip provides static rather than dynamic storage, thereby eliminating the need for clocking and refresh circuits. The chip has a typical access time of 150 nsec and dissipates less than 20 microwatts per bit at maximum operating speed. For standby, the dissipation is less than 1 microwatt per bit."
XEBEC DOS (p. 52). "Xebec systems has announced the availability of the first Flexible-Disk Operating System for use with Data General computers. This system, called XDOS, is said to enable users of NOVA minicomputers to take full advantage of the many benefits of a floppy disk.
"When compared to a cassette tape drive, a floppy disk has several important advantages. For example, although price and capacity of a floppy disk and cassette tape are similar, the flexible disk offers a random access capability, a ten-time improvement in reliability, a higher data transfer rate, and lower media costs.
"A complete floppy disk system including NOVA computer, 8K core, XDOS, and a teletype unit sells for under $10,000."
INVENTORY CONTROL (p. 54). "Bobbie Brooks, one of the nation's largest and most diversified apparel manufacturers, now provides 'instantaneous' computer power to its production personnel through Memorex 1250 communications terminals and Bunker Ramo CRT display terminals online to its Cleveland-based IBM System 370/145.
"The firm's information system controls a two-million-yard fabric inventory, centrally cutting more than 13,000 dozen garments weekly, preparing 2,500 invoices daily, and shipping a diverse line of clothing to over 13,000 retailers. It includes a total of 15 Memorex 1250 receive-only hardcopy printers that operate at user-selected speeds of 10 to 120 characters a second. It provides immediate hardcopy answers to many of the 15,000 daily CRT inquiries at all stages of the production-distribution cycle."
January 1990
PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE (p. 4). "Today, the Computer Society has more than 100,000 members worldwide. Our selection of periodicals has grown to five transactions and six magazines—presenting a complementary blend of theory and practice. We are one of the world's leading publishers of computer science and engineering literature, with more than 70 books and proceedings published annually. We sponsor more than 100 technical meetings ranging from large, industry-oriented conferences with exhibits to small, highly interactive workshops. With the recent addition of the Technical Committee on Expert Systems, we have 34 technical committees focusing on computer hardware, software, and applications. Our standards development program was considered the 'new kid on the block' in standards circles just five years ago. Now, with over 180 projects involving more than 5,000 volunteers, it is a major producer of information-technology standards affecting products and services throughout the global economy."
COMPUTER SECURITY (p. 10). "Computer security tries to assure that the increased processing power and decreased human supervision that come from computerizing an information system do not introduce new threats to the system's security. Computer security is not concerned with general security issues such as protecting files from unauthorized reproduction by authorized users. Its concern is secrecy (protecting information from unauthorized disclosure), integrity (protecting information from unauthorized alteration), and availability (protecting information from denial-of-service attacks)."
EDUCATION FOR COMPUTING PROFESSIONALS (p. 22). "My industrial colleagues often complain that CS students are not prepared for the jobs they have to do. I [David Lorge Parnas] must emphasize that my proposals will not produce graduates who can immediately take over the responsibilities of an employee who has left or been promoted. That is not the role of a university. Universities should not be concerned with teaching the latest network protocol, programming language, or operating system feature. Graduates need the fundamentals that will allow a lifetime of learning new developments; the program I have proposed provides those fundamentals better than most CS programs.
UNDERSTANDING ALGORITHMS (p. 24) "Until recently, designers of programming languages relied primarily on their intuition to tell them what is 'best' for programmers. Replacing instinct by in-depth knowledge regarding human understanding of algorithms can benefit many disciplines, from the writing of computer documentation to the design of programming and specification languages. The wide variety of individual styles documented in this study suggests that these materials would be more effective if they were adapted to reader preferences."
FAULT-TOLERANT ARRAYS (p. 55). "Very large scale integration/wafer-scale integration (VLSI/WSI) technology is most advantageous when used to implement regularly structured systems such as large arrays of identical processing elements. As integration levels increase and the sizes of arrays grow larger, the possibility of single or multiple faults occurring in a VLSI/WSI array heightens. These faults can occur during the operational lifetime of the array, as well as during its manufacturing process. In a non-fault-tolerant array structure, the failure of a single element can cause the array performance to degrade severely if not fatally.
"On the other hand, the array might be able to operate in a fault-tolerant reconfigurable structure, even if a certain number of faults are present. This can be done by using a reconfiguration technique for restructuring the array statically (at fabrication time, for yield enhancement) or dynamically (during its operational lifetime, for improved reliability)."
SOFTWARE PRODUCTION (p. 77). "Software jobs are becoming bigger and more demanding. More people are needed to feed into the maw of the software engineering machine. Taking the approach that all we need is better personnel leaves us chasing a very small segment of the population. Further, as the complexity of software tools increases, the specialties multiply. For example, a certain amount of experience with relational databases is needed before minimum proficiency is reached. The years to be spent in that aspect of the business gaining knowledge and then applying it are at odds with gaining equally detailed knowledge in other areas (such as operating systems). Yet, we need both and more.
"In part, this is an education issue, and criteria for master's degrees in computer science are evolving. But, in the overall sense, our industry is moving in the direction of requiring the use of ever-increasingly sophisticated tools that take time to learn and even more time for proficiency. We are blindly approaching a time when we will be spending all our time learning tools and no time doing work.
NOTEBOOK COMPUTERS (p. 116). "Compaq Computer claims to offer full PC functionality in its new notebook-sized computers, the LTE/286 and LTE. The new computers measure 8.5 × 11 × 2 inches and weigh 6 pounds with batteries. They come with 640 Kbytes of RAM, a 20- or 40-Mbyte hard disk drive, a 1.44-Mbyte 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, an 80-key keyboard with 101-key compatibility, a backlit supertwist LCD display with 640 × 200 resolution, and an operational 2,400-baud modem."
PDFs of the articles and departments from Computer's January 1990 issue are available to Computer Society members with a Web account at www.computer.org/computer.