Issue No.07 - July (2011 vol.44)
Published by the IEEE Computer Society
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MC.2011.195
A monthly look back at Computer's editorial content 32 and 16 years ago provides an interesting perspective for today's computing profession.
GEOMETRIC MODELS (pp. 8-9) "From the viewpoint of a user, a geometric model is developed by inputting to the graphics system three classes of commands which may be either interpreted or compiled. The first class identifies, or causes to be generated, primitive volume elements, such as cubes or spheres. The second class scales, rotates, or positions the primitives in space, and the third class combines the primitives by union, intersection, or difference. These classes of inputs are in themselves a procedural description of the shape being developed by the user."
INDUSTRIAL ROBOTS (p. 19) "The present day industrial robot has its origins in both teleoperators and numerically controlled machine tools. The teleoperator, or telecheric, is a device to allow an operator to perform a manual task from a distance. The numerically controlled machine tool shapes metal automatically, based on digitally encoded cutting data."
BUS STANDARD (p. 28) "The following draft of a proposed standard for the S-100 bus is the culmination of over a year and a half of effort to eliminate many of the bus's problems and to upgrade it to be suitable for 16-bit microprocessors. The address bus has been extended to 24 bits, the data in and data out buses ganged to form a 16-bit wide data bus for 16-bit transactions, and two additional handshaking lines added to permit intermixing of 8- and 16-bit memory cards."
STANDARDS COMMITTEE (p. 61) "Software-related projects include a standard for choosing assembler language mnemonics, a high-level language project which is attempting to make existing languages more suitable for use with microprocessors, a joint project with ANSI for the standardization of Pascal, a committee studying possible extensions of Pascal, and a project seeking a common standard for relocatable object code."
SOFTWARE PATENTS (p. 66) "Are the originators of computer-implemented inventions entitled to patent protection? Since 1972, when the US Supreme Court held that an admittedly useful, new, and nonobvious process employing a digital computer did not constitute a patentable invention, this question has generated considerable confusion, controversy, and debate. The answer depends on the answer to a related question: Is the programming of digital computers one of the useful arts? This is an important question because a negative answer would exclude an entire technology from the benefits of the patent system. …"
INTEGRATED SYSTEMS (p. 74) "… We can speak too glibly about the progression from SSI to MSI to LSI to VLSI. (I assume that the next step would be called ULSI—ultra-large-scale integration—following the trend in television frequency bands!) However, something subtle happened in this progression that cannot be represented by a straight line. Somewhere along the path from MSI to VLSI we entered a new era, one of integrated systems rather than integrated circuits. This era is marked by a single-chip gate density so great that it forces us to reconsider our thinking about the uses of silicon chips."
STANDARDS (p. 81) "… Standards, or guidelines, are a written, usable formulization of experience-successful experience. Their use overcomes a common problem: Most project experience is lost, or at best handed down by word of mouth or individual behavior. Standards are descriptions of what 'products' are needed, how they should be built, and what they should look like when completed. Standards can be descriptions of the best set of procedures to follow during the product's development. Written standards are a consistent, effective means of communication among the project team, users, and management."
WAFER SCALE INTEGRATION (p. 86) "Lately, a dynamic WSI has been proposed in which the interconnect step is done with active logic, eliminating the probe and static approach. But a number of barriers—in attitude—must be overcome before the technical community will fully accept dynamic WSI."
SATELLITE DATA (p. 92) "A new service via the Satcom satellite, providing one or more 56-kilobit streams of data for use by business and industry in the US, was announced recently by RCA American Communications, Inc.
"The new service is generally offered to high-speed data users between dedicated earth stations. …"
ROBOT MARKET (p. 102) "Observing that the industrial robot market has not exhibited the explosive growth once predicted for it, a new market study by Frost & Sullivan, Inc., refers to 'changing circumstances' as the basis for an updated projection that the robot market will soon enjoy 'solid growth.' Indeed, the 250-page study forecasts that the industrial robot market, at $26 million in 1977, will soar to $438 million by 1985, propelled by a rapidly enhancing technology."
FINANCIAL RESULTS (p. 5) "… Three straight years of positive operating nets have improved the Computer Society's financial reserves and brought the working capital position above the Board of Governors' policy.
"Society leaders continue to be cautious in maintaining adequate reserves but, at the same time, are actively moving toward expanding delivery mechanisms for society products and services. …"
LEAN SOFTWARE (p. 9) "We very much enjoyed Niklaus Wirth's article, 'A Plea for Lean Software' (February 1995 Computer, pp. 64-68). The article itself demonstrates the meaning of the word 'lean' as applied to journal writing.
"In the four years we have been receiving Computer, no other article resonated so truly with our beliefs. Copies of the Nine Lessons now hang centrally above our desks at work."
THE END OF WORK (p. 10) "… The post-industrial age of efficient, mass-produced, mass-marketed manufacturing is over. We have entered the info age, where virtual worlds replace factories and telepresence replaces commuting. The information age defines work in terms of expertise (value added) rather than bodily presence (material value). Throw away those outmoded ideas about large companies, expensive factories, and life-long employees."
BACKUP BLUES (p. 13) "A new survey of users reveals that one of four client/server LANs suffers severe backup-failure problems, with failures occurring as often as 40 percent of the time. The survey, conducted by Strategic Research in Santa Barbara, California, found that the average LAN suffered a backup failure 10.8 times per month, and open files during backup accounted for 9.7 of these failures."
REPETITIVE STRESS INJURIES (p. 14) "While keyboard designers and stressful worksites have been blamed for repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), a study by the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland, has found that those suffering from severe RSI symptoms struck keys significantly harder than those suffering from mild symptoms."
VIRTUAL REALITY (p. 17) "Real-time updates of the graphics scene reacting to the user's changing point of view help to create a feeling of presence in the virtual world. These updates, however, are very computationally demanding. The importance of real-time speed and the difficulty of its implementation make it an important issue in VR research. …"
NEUROSURGICAL PLANNING (p. 20) "… the potential applications of virtual reality in the medical environment continue to motivate research and development in both academic and commercial settings. … However, most physicians will not use a system that does not convincingly improve their ability to safely and efficiently deliver medical services of the highest quality. Therefore, how can we introduce the technologies of virtual reality into medicine? How can we satisfy this requirement for safety and utility with rapidly evolving hardware and software?"
NATIONAL PRODUCTIVITY (p. 72) "The problem of national productivity is not well understood, yet it matters enormously. It may be that the answer cannot be obtained from those who look on from a great distance. Perhaps the causes of productivity are too detail sensitive for that. Computer professionals more than any other group are contributing to the improvement of productivity. Perhaps they can also contribute to its understanding."
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION (p. 94) "The transfer of high-performance computing and scientific visualization technologies from specific research efforts to major policy-setting and regulatory activities is an important component of the US Environmental Protection Agency's High-Performance Computing and Communications Program. This requires providing EPA regional and program offices, as well as state environmental protection agencies, with desktop scientific visualization capabilities. With these visual display tools, environmental scientists, policy analysts, and decision makers will be able to collaborate via the Internet to examine and control complex ecosystem problems that span multiple state boundaries and international borders."
CREATIONIST METHODOLOGY (p. 104) "What is an appropriate model for the complex process of software development, often viewed as more art than science? The 'one true process' that's mandated by generic Q-programs is exceptionally difficult to enforce. The traditional waterfall model … is sometimes seized upon by Q-bodies as the 'one true software development process.' Unfortunately, it's an inflexible creationist methodology adequate only for creating basic software products in the commercial software domain. Real-world software of any complexity will naturally evolve through several iterations as major releases, plus numerous requirements changes, minor enhancements, and error corrections."
PDFs of the articles and departments from Computer' s July 1979 and 1995 issues are available through the IEEE Computer Society's website: www.computer.org/computer.