32 & 16 Years Ago
APRIL 2007 (Vol. 40, No. 4) pp. 12-13
0018-9162/07/$31.00 © 2007 IEEE

Published by the IEEE Computer Society
32 & 16 Years Ago
  Article Contents  
  April 1975  
  APRIL 1991  
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April 1975
DESIGN AUTOMATION (p. 19). "There has been a long standing interest in applying the formality of design automation procedures to the business of software generation. Early applications in this direction came with the processing of microprogram data. The first broad application of microprogramming came from hardware engineering environments, where designers had become used to design automation. Further, early techniques for control storage were read-only hardware devices which required formal manufacturing documentation and test data. The experience gained in processing microprograms and the recent high level of interest in a more formal, controlled approach to software design have opened up new possibilities for design automation of software."
AEROSPACE VEHICLE DESIGN (p. 24). "… the Integrated Programs for Aerospace-Vehicle Design (IPAD) System has been found to be a feasible concept. Some of the purposes of the IPAD study were to determine what sections of the design process are amenable to automation; how much monitoring must the automation have; how can the design process be effectively organized; and, most important, how can the management/ design/engineering team members retain the visibility and control necessary to exercise their intuition and imagination in the design process. These purposes have been accomplished and are reflected in the IPAD system design approach … . IPAD will be flexible and it will be open-ended, since it must be able to absorb new developments in design, analytical techniques, and computer system technology as they occur. Rather than a computer program, IPAD is a system of automated procedures providing a framework within which aerospace vehicle design can be accomplished with speed, efficiency, and confidence."
AUTOMATED INSPECTION (p. 36–37). "Significant technological advances in the design and production of electronic assemblies have sizably increased their reliability and durability while greatly reducing their physical size. New manufacturing technologies have been developed which markedly increase the speed and accuracy of production. Such advances in production greatly complicate the inspection of these devices by humans. Essentially, the techniques used 10 years ago are still used for inspection in production lines. Much of the inspection is done by humans whose performance—not surprisingly—is generally inadequate and variable. The human visual system is adapted to perform in a world of variety and change; the inspection process, on the other hand, requires observing the same type of image repeatedly to detect anomalies. This requirement can often be met successfully by automation.
"Advances in methodology have been accompanied by the development of better image-analysis equipment at reduced costs. These advances, combined with those in computer technology, make feasible the implementation of image-analysis systems in production environments."
DEC COMMERCIAL (p. 52). "Digital Equipment Corporation has announced a low-cost, fully programmable disk based business computer system, the DEC DATASYSTEM 310. The new system is priced at $12,000, placing its cost in the domain of specialized and inflexible hard wired business systems, according to DEC."
"Hardware includes a PDP-8/A minicomputer with 16K characters of core memory, expandable to 64K characters, a VT50 video (CRT) terminal with keyboard and an optional electrolytic copier, a dual floppy-disk drive with 260,000 character capacity, and a choice of printers ranging in speed from 30 characters per second to 300 lines per minute. The floppy-disk capacity can be doubled, through addition of a second dual-drive unit, to a capacity of 1.2 million characters. An optional 2780 communications interface can be added to link the system to existing large-scale data processing centers."
CAROUSEL PRINTER (p. 53). "The Terminal Products Group of Interdata, Inc., [has] developed a high-speed serial impact Carousel printer. Three key features—the unique Carousel print cup, digital stepper motors, and integral microprocessor control—combine to result in what Interdata claims is 'print quality previously unavailable in similarly priced units.'
"The Carousel print cup rotates during its character selections movements at step rates up to 6,000 steps per second. The print cup has a 2.6-inch base, with sides 0.8-inches high. The sides are divided into 100 fingers; 94 contain the alphanumerics of the standard ASCII set, and six have been shortened to provide the operator with a convenient viewing window. The durable fingers, good for a million printing impressions each, are 0.035-inches thick, and 0.07-inches wide."
BACKUP MEMORY (p. 54). "A non-volatile backup memory for microprocessor and other computer products that use semiconductor main or control memory has been introduced by Cambridge Memories, Inc. Called 'MicroSTOR,' the memory utilizes Cambridge's proprietary Domain Tip (DOT) thin-film storage elements to assure data integrity in the event of power failure or other outages that normally destroy information stored in semiconductor or microprocessor memory."
"Memory capacities of the MicroSTOR units range from 4K × 12 bits to 12K × 12 bit sizes in multiple module configurations, for a total storage capacity of from 48,000 to 768,000 bits of data. A typical 8K × 12 bit system with read-write capability and all supporting electronics is self-contained on a single printed-circuit card. Price per bit is approximately .4 or 40% below core memory costs … ."
APRIL 1991
INSTRUCTION SEQUENCING (p. 13). "The past decade has seen renewed interest in instruction sequencing. Designers have proposed a variety of hardware and software approaches such as branch prediction strategies and instruction-scheduling techniques to further improve performance."
"The AT&T CRISP microprocessor incorporates a variety of techniques to reduce the performance degradation associated with instruction sequencing. … the CRISP processor contains a 512-byte prefetch buffer (actually a direct-mapped instruction cache with 32 lines), a prefetch and decode unit, a decoded instruction cache, and an E-unit. Operating independently of the E-unit, the prefetch and decode unit fetches and decodes instructions from the prefetch buffer and stores them in the decoded instruction cache for the E-unit to read."
AUTONOMOUS ROBOTS (p. 17). "Robots have become a major element in today's industrial world. They are beneficial not only for tasks at which they are more efficient than humans, but also for undesirable tasks that are strenuous, boring, difficult, or hazardous—not to mention more expensive or impossible for humans to perform. Robotic systems are used in hazardous environments such as those encountered in nuclear, military, chemical, underwater, and space applications."
"To achieve autonomous systems, the human presence or telepresence should be replaced, to some degree, by an array of sensors capable of mapping the environment in which they operate. Sensory feedback is of great importance in many intelligent robotic applications requiring recognition and handling of complex work-pieces. The sensory system should be able to acquire, fuse, and interpret multisensory data in order to generate action items commensurate with a given task."
OBJECT-ORIENTED DATABASES (p. 33). "The first and most relevant applications of database management systems technology were for business and administration. This influenced data organization and usage in DBMSs.
"Recently, however, hardware innovations have opened the market to new applications that require adequate software tools. Typical examples include computer-aided design, office information systems, hypermedia systems, documentation of complex mechanical systems, knowledge bases, and scientific applications.
"These applications require effective support for the management of complex, possibly multimedia, objects. … Other crucial requirements derive from the evolutionary nature of applications and include multiple versions of the same data and long-lived transactions."
ARRAY STORAGE (p. 76). "The Intelligent Array Expansion System for Compaq System Pro comes with a 32-bit expansion controller. The expansion unit is designed for advanced connected environments with storage-intensive applications.
"The system features 2.6-Gbyte fixed-disk drive array storage and can be scaled up to 9.1 Gbytes. By adding two expansion systems, System Pro users can increase storage capacity to almost 20 Gbytes.
"Offered are user-selectable fault-tolerant features such as drive mirroring, an on-line spare drive, and controller duplexing."
PEN-BASED COMPUTING (p. 78). "Go Corp. has released the developer version of Pen Point, an operating system that uses a pen instead of a keyboard or mouse.
"Pen Point features an interface that lets users interact with documents through a table of contents. The interface recognizes handwriting in printed uppercase and lowercase letters and responds to pen-generated commands (called gestures) such as writing an X to delete material.
"The system recognizes at least 20 punctuation symbols and computes letter and word spacing. Users need not write a special space character or write within boxes."
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY (p. 112). "Reusing software verbatim requires making a copy. Copying software is not always legal, as most everyone knows. A problem occurs when someone modifies or reuses part (or all of) someone else's software or uses the design as a basis for new software. In either case, the software can be viewed as a work derived from the original; hence, all rights to the work belong to the original creator—except what was added. Also, translating software from one language to another can be considered creating a derived work; therefore, it is also illegal (assuming you did not get authorization to do so or did not write it from scratch in the first place).
"Things get even worse. For instance, creating a plug-compatible piece of software without even looking at someone else's code (using a black box approach) can even cause litigation. Unfortunately, merely looking at someone else's source code (whether you have it or decompile it and whether you think it is in the public domain or not) may reveal something that later turns out to be a trade secret, in which case you run the risk of being excluded from developing similar applications for a period of time in the future."