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32 & 16 Years Ago

Pages: pp. 12-13

June 1973

MINICOMPUTERS (p. 11). "Not long ago, the digital computer was commonly regarded as a replacement for many human activities. Accordingly, many computer systems over the past 20 years have been designed and justified on the basis of how many people they would replace. Although the value of those computer systems has been substantial, we now realize that perhaps the most important and powerful computer applications will involve the use of a computer as an extension of the human intellect rather than a replacement for it.

"The concept of personal computing is not hard to visualize. It involves placing the power of a computer at the disposal of individuals on an interactive, easy-to-use, and economical basis. However, it is difficult to implement that concept. Minicomputers, time sharing and more recently, pocket calculators, have brought the power of the computer to millions, but we're still a long way from the personal computer.

"The recent development of two new technologies has taken us closer to a practical personal computer. One of these, LSI microprocessors, will make the cost of computing power feasible for more people and more applications. The development of the flexible disk file and IBM's recent announcement to adopt the flexible disk as a standard data medium may fill the need for a reliable, low-cost storage device."

MICROPROCESSORS (p. 19). "LSI microprocessors can replace minicomputers in many present applications to give less expensive, more reliable, and more compact systems. Also, by microprogramming they can be tailor-made for specific, large volume applications, resulting in still greater savings and efficiency. As system designers learn how and when to use them, microprocessors will become common in these applications as well as in those that were not technically and economically practical before LSI. In fact, they may revolutionize data processing in the next decade, just as minicomputers did in the last, bringing full computing power one more step closer to widespread use for everyday tasks."

FLEXIBLE DISKS (p. 26). "IBM's selection of the flexible disk as the data entry medium for the future will have enormous repercussions in the data processing industry. For large computer systems it means that keypunches, card handling equipment, key-to-tape and key-to-disk equipment may be replaced by equipment using Diskettes. For many minicomputer systems, it means that the cost of the peripherals, which today amount to the lion's share of the system cost, can be substantially reduced. Most importantly, it establishes as an industry standard a medium that can be used as a multipurpose miniperipheral and which, when combined with LSI microprocessors, can do many general and special purpose data processing tasks at a fraction of their cost today."

16-BIT MICROPROCESSOR (p. 41). "The semiconductor industry's first single-card 16-bit microprocessor system, the IMP-16C, has been introduced by National Semiconductor Corp., Santa Clara, Calif.

"IMP-16C, a low-cost system on an 8-1/2" ? 11" printed circuit card, consists of a 16-bit microprocessor; clock system; I/O bus drivers; 256 words of read/write memory (RAM); and provisions for 512 words of ROM/PROM memory."

"IMP-16C uses a standard set of 42 instructions and operates on a microcycle of 1.5 microseconds. It can address up to 65,000 words of memory. The system uses a simple bus structure; memory address bus; and separate memory and I/O data bus."

MEMORY ARRAY (p. 44). "Strands of magnetically coated tungsten wire about the diameter of a human hair are being fabricated by General Electric aerospace engineers into smaller and more versatile computer memories for guiding supersonic aircraft and distant space probes with greater control."

"Plated wires are preferred as main memories in aerospace and industrial control applications because of their small size, higher speeds, low power requirements, reliability, long life, non-destructive readout, and non-volatility (stored information is not affected by power interruptions). By contrast, core and semiconductor memories are preferred for use in general purpose commercial computers because of cost considerations."

SATELLITE TRACKING (p. 46). "What connoisseurs of computers would call a 'vintage' machine is doing up-to-date research in developing methods to identify orbiting artificial satellites. Part of an experimental system devised by the Techniques Branch of the Air Force Systems Command's Rome Air Development Center, … the computer, a Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-1, is used to control the antennas that track the satellites, helping the system to establish the elements of orbits by obtaining the coordinates … of the satellites."

"The PDP-1, which has been 'on duty' for over four years, was acquired from another Air Force facility that was 'retiring' the machine after years of service."

AIRPORT COMPUTER (pp. 46-47). "Electronic message switching equipment to supply complete passenger information to all airports in the Moscow area will be furnished by a French subsidiary of International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation. The value of the project is about $2.2 million.

"The equipment, to be supplied to Aeroflot by ITT's Companies Générale de Constructions Téléphoniques, will retain all needed passenger information in a central computer and will instantaneously display it to the public. Such data as arrival time, departure time, check-in times, luggage, and passenger boarding times, and information on connecting flights, with last-minute changes, will be available."

MEDICAL COMPUTER (p. 47). "The 240-bed Anaheim Memorial Hospital in Anaheim, California has installed a new $140,000 computer system that is serving its unique Acute Care Center.

"Designed specifically for Anaheim Memorial Hospital by Beehive Medical Electronics, Inc., of Salt Lake City, the Beehive MCS 100 computer system is located on the fifth floor of the complex's new wing and serves the four vital areas of the Acute Care Center—coronary, progressive care, medical-surgical and pulmonary.

"The first system of its kind that utilizes an arrythmia [sic] technique to monitor a patient's heart patterns and the repetivity of his pulse, the Beehive MCS 100 can monitor the heart performance of up to 32 patients simultaneously. The system can even be used to predict coronary difficulties."

June 1989

SMART MACHINES (p. 4). "At the Computer Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, more than half an acre of hands-on and historical exhibits demonstrate the extraordinary changes in the size, capability, application, and cost of computers in the last four decades. Museum galleries span computer technology from vacuum tubes, to transistors, to ICs, and, since the opening of the Smart Machines Gallery in June 1987, to robotics and artificial intelligence.

"Within the Smart Machines Gallery are 25 interactive exhibits and the Smart Machines Theater, where more than 25 research robots 'come to life' in a 10-minute multimedia presentation."

AUTONOMOUS MACHINES (p. 14). "The first level [of autonomy] is teleoperation—the extension of a person's sensing and manipulating capabilities to a remote location … ."

"The next level, telesensing, involves sensing additional information about the teleoperator and task environment and then communicating this information [so that] the human operator … feels physically present at the remote site.

"The third level is that of telerobotics. … The subordinate telerobot executes the task based on information received from the human operator and augmented by its own artificial sensing and intelligence."

AN AUTONOMOUS ROBOT (p. 30). "An autonomous mobile robot, HERMIES-IIB (hostile-environment robotic machine intelligence experiment series) is a self-powered, wheel-driven platform containing an on-board 16-node Ncube hypercube parallel processor interfaced to effectors and sensors through a VME-based system containing a Motorola 68020 processor, a phased sonar array, dual manipulator arms, and multiple cameras."

A LEGGED VEHICLE (p. 59). "The Adaptive Suspension Vehicle is an experimental, six-legged walking vehicle developed jointly by the Ohio State University and Adaptive Machine Technologies. Designed to explore the capabilities of legged vehicles, the ASV can walk in any direction and turn about any axis. It can walk through mud, step over ditches, and negotiate vertical ledges that would stop a conventional vehicle. Unlike conventional vehicles, which require virtually continuous supporting surfaces, the ASV can traverse terrain where footholds are sparse and avoid rocks, holes, and other obstacles in its path. The vehicle's suspension can therefore adapt to the terrain, justifying its name."

NEURAL LEARNING (p. 74). "To summarize, we have presented a new theoretical framework for adaptive learning using neural networks. Continuous nonlinear mappings and topological transformations, such as inverse kinematics of redundant robot manipulators, are its main application targets. Central to our approach is the concept of terminal attractors—a new class of mathematical constructs that provide unique information processing capabilities to the neural system. The rapid network convergence resulting from the infinite local stability of these attractors enables the development of fast neural learning algorithms, an essential requirement for manipulator control in unstructured environments."

PARALLEL PROCESSING LANGUAGE (p. 110). "Strand Software Technologies … now markets its general-purpose programming language for parallel and distributed processing in the U.S. Strand88 code is implicitly parallel, … and software can be embedded in a Strand88 program to extract latent parallelism. This reportedly provides a migration path for large sequential applications to move to a parallel processing environment.

"The company claims that Strand88 is the first commercial implementation of the Strand language, developed in the U.K. It includes a development environment for the programmer. Strand88 is currently available on Sun-3 and Sun-4 workstations, all configurations of Intel iPSC/2, and System V Unix/80386 systems."

WEBS OF INFORMATION (p. 112). "Brown University's Institute for Research in Information and Scholarship (IRIS) has announced the availability of IRIS Intermedia. The multiuser hypermedia development system facilitates the creation of webs of information consisting of text, graphics, time lines, and scanned images.

"Intermedia allows multiple overlapping windows, lengthy documents, navigation aids, and a multiuser environment."

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