32 & 16 Years Ago
JULY 2006 (Vol. 39, No. 7) pp. 11-12
0018-9162/06/$31.00 © 2006 IEEE

Published by the IEEE Computer Society
32 & 16 Years Ago
  Article Contents  
  July 1974  
  July 1990  
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July 1974
TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATION (p. 7). "Keynote speaker Bernard Strassburg, addressing an audience of over 600 at the 1974 Symposium on Computer Networks—Trends and Applications, at Gaithersburg, Maryland, delivered a clear and penetrating analysis of the impact of digital data transmissions on FCC regulations governing the telecommunications agency. In tracing the regulatory changes, Strassburg raised an intriguing question yet to be resolved by the FCC: Should interstate utilities offering a mix of data processing and store-and-forward switching services be subject to the same regulations that govern conventional common carriers?"
MICROPROCESSOR ARCHITECTURE (p. 19). "The advent of the microprocessor is also a beginning of a revolution for computer architecture. The technology has given the architect new freedom to create structures heretofore impractical or uneconomical. For example, very few minicomputers contain a stack—but almost every microprocessor has one. The technology has also franchised more computer architects to define and develop new systems. This increased number of new computer system developments all but guarantees an acceleration of innovative inventions and exciting discoveries in architectures."
NANOPROCESSORS (p. 24). "Even though microprocessors which are presently available satisfy the needs of many applications such as peripheral and I/O control, a substantial need exists for microprocessors in the submicrosecond cycle class. Such devices could be called nanoprocessors since they would operate in the nanosecond cycle range. Nanoprocessors could find wide application in the implementation of the various hardware sections of large high-performance systems. They do not necessarily need to be complex or offer all the features found in general-purpose machines. They must, however, be capable of instruction times in the range of 100 nsec."
POINT-OF-SALE TERMINALS (p. 31). "One of the key features of the POS terminal system … is immediacy of data collection. For example, while ringing up the sale, the clerk is also entering data to the CPU. This means that interim reports can be prepared throughout the business day to support merchandising decisions. Data handling systems based on isolated cash registers require periodic collection of sales data (usually printed or handwritten sales checks), followed by keypunching or optical scanning of the data on the sales checks. Data collection systems using POS terminals have the data collected and ready for processing at the close of business, while data collection systems using isolated cash registers are still preparing the data for entry into the processor."
SOFTWARE TESTING (p. 47). "The objective of … probe insertion mechanisms … is not to find errors; rather it is to quantitatively assess how thoroughly a program has been exercised by a set of test cases. The program is instrumented by the automatic insertion of traps, CALLs to an auditing routine. The purpose of these CALLs is the generation of a record during the execution of the instrumented program. After completion of the testing the record is analyzed to give a measure of the thoroughness with which the program has been tested (exercised)."
"The next step in software testing methodology is to evaluate the relationship between thoroughness of testing and software reliability."
DATA STORAGE (p. 54). "Bubbles are no longer a newly emerging technology, and they are now being designed into live, trial applications. The time to test their economic competitiveness is dawning. Old schemes for transient storage, and hence refreshed memories, which use electron beam accessed minicapacitors in a vacuum tube, are getting a new look in view of the changes in fabrication technology that have taken place since the premagnetic core days of the Williams tube and the barrier grid tube. The old timers, pointing out the snags, were skeptical but interested. One is promised to be 6.4 ¥ 10 7 bits, 2.5 m s access, 1–2 cubic feet, 100 watt—and at 2.5 ¥ 10 -2 cent/bit. However, this precision level of Delphian forecasting is as appropriate for vacuum tubes as it is for semiconductors and bubbles. More often than not the cost per bit overrides functional capability as a consideration."
COMPUTER MUSIC (p. 60). "Electronic music, which usually is spontaneously produced, has now been computerized at the Michigan State University, so that jazz, rock and roll, and classical music can be played live or from the computer's memory bank by typing on the printer keyboard.
"The computer's 'hybrid music realization panel' can play in any key, with sharps, flats, and chords."
RIVER FLOW CONTROL (p. 61). "Three giant dams on the Snake River in Washington are generating hydroelectric power and controlling river flow conditions under the remote control of a computer. Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, and Little Goose dams are connected by microwave to the IBM 1800 computer at McNary Dam in Oregon on the Columbia River.
"Thirty sensing devices at each of the Snake River dams continually transmit information to the computer, such as height of the water, its rate of flow, and the amount of power being generated. As conditions change at the dams the 1800 automatically directs equipment to react to correct conditions."
July 1990
FAULT TOLERANCE TECHNIQUES (p. 37). "Fault-tolerant computing techniques first appeared in special-purpose, dedicated systems. As hardware costs decreased and critical applications arose requiring dependability beyond that provided by general-purpose commercial systems, fault-tolerant architectures were developed. The success of these systems in applications such as transaction processing, electronic funds transfer, communications, and process control has been noted by the general-purpose computing community. Likewise, semiconductor manufacturers have produced chips, such as ECC encoders/decoders and duplication/match circuitry in microprocessors, that support the design of fault-tolerant systems. Thus, fault-tolerant techniques are now appearing routinely in general-purpose commercial computing systems. This trend will not only continue but accelerate as the cost of undependability becomes intolerable."
VLSI FAULT TOLERANCE (p. 73). "As feature sizes enter the submicron level and increased circuit density from reduced feature sizes becomes more difficult to achieve, some designers have turned to larger area circuits and even full-wafer integration. They hope to obtain the cost reductions, size reductions, and performance improvements associated with higher levels of integration.
"The prohibitively low defect-free yield of large circuits mandates on-chip fault tolerance for yield enhancement. The incorporation of fault tolerance is sometimes required not only to increase productivity but to ensure feasibility. For example, wafer-scale circuits would have zero yield without fault tolerance."
GIGABIT NETWORKS (p. 93). "A number of universities, national laboratories, and supercomputer centers will begin research into gigabit network communications under a $15.8 million award announced by the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
"The three-year award to the nonprofit Corporation for National Research Initiatives will primarily support university research, but several industrial sponsors will contribute switching, interface, and computer technology."
HITACHI MAINFRAMES (p. 108). "Hitachi Data Systems has announced three new models in its EX Series of mainframe computers.
"EX models support System/370 operating systems, high-speed optical channels, remote operations capabilities, and four-level storage. According to HDS, EX Series provides ESA/370 capable mainframes."
WINDOWS (p. 109). "Microsoft has announced worldwide availability of version 3.0 of its Windows graphical user interface for DOS-based PCs. According to the company, Windows 3.0 employs a proportionally spaced system font, 3D scroll bars and command buttons, and colored icons. The interface resembles that of Microsoft's OS/2 Presentation Manager."
"A minimum configuration is a 286-based PC with 640 Kbytes of RAM, one floppy disk drive, and a hard disk drive."
ENTRY-LEVEL SPARCSTATION (p. 111). "The Sparcstation SLC has no base unit, instead packing the CPU components within a 17-inch monochrome display. The CPU board incorporates a 20-MHz Sparc microprocessor, floating-point unit, 8–16 Mbytes of memory (using 4-Mbyte SIMMs), one Ethernet port, monochrome frame buffer, audio, and an SCSI port.
"The board and 80W power supply are mounted behind the monitor. According to the company [Sun Microsystems], the single power supply and the use of CMOS technology mean the unit does not need a cooling fan."
TRANSACTION PROCESSING SYSTEMS (p. 115). "Transaction processing systems (TPSs) constitute a significant fraction of the data processing market. They are in widespread use in supporting airline reservations, tracking banking operations, and managing inventories; and they make extensive use of large numbers of disks and I/O channels. However, as hardware and its capabilities improve, some of the basic premises of transaction processing must be reconsidered.
"It may no longer be best to have data reside on conventional disks. Instead, data can be resident in nonvolatile main memory, or it can be fragmented over many very small disks to improve access time. Faster processors make it possible to include new functionality in a TPS; for example, we might want the best fare to go from city A to city B on any one of several days, on any airline, and making any small number of intermediate stops. Large global networks make it feasible to interconnect and integrate different services."
ADA FOR THE DISABLED (p. 118). "'The host of computer gadgets I use certainly makes my day-to-day living easier,' software engineer Eugenie (Jolle) Mason, who is blind, said in an interview at the Symposium on Environments and Tools for Ada. But, she went on, 'I am interested in more than having the handicapped use computers. I am interested in having the handicapped employed as professional programmers.'
"'Published examples of Ada show 'a preference toward pronounceable names and annotated code,' Mason noted. That means a voice synthesizer can make Ada programs understandable by the visually handicapped. 'Ada is not only a readable language, it is also a hearable one.'"