Issue No. 03 - March (2006 vol. 39)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MC.2006.76
TIME SHARING (p. 7). "A special three-part session, 'Dartmouth Time-Sharing System—Then and Now,' will be held Wednesday afternoon, May 8, during the 1974 NCC. The session will mark the tenth anniversary of DTSS's inauguration. With the advent of DTSS, interactive time-sharing became a reality."
MIS AT HARVARD (p. 8). "Harvard University will offer a new professional program in Information Sciences in the Fall of 1974 as announced by Harvey Brooks, Dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Physics. The program, leading to the degree of Master of Engineering, has been developed in response to a strongly felt need to provide advanced training for people interested in acquiring a deeper understanding of advanced computing technology and employing it to meet the needs of business, industry and government.
DEATH OF THE MAXI-COMPUTER (p. 24). "With the advent of low-cost computer power (mini's, CoC's, and microprocessors), allowing the computer to become a minor subsystem component, a new computer revolution is developing. It is opening the door to the mass application of distributed-function computers into a vast variety of devices for making them 'smart,' causing the computer to be further distributed into everyday things—like the automobile, home appliances, schools, etc. Does this new trend signal the near end of the classical general-purpose maxi-computer?"
DISTRIBUTED FILE SYSTEMS (p. 32). "Of all the issues faced in the design of distributed machine software structures, the most poorly understood yet one of the most important, issues is that of distributed data (file) systems. … Further, we are always faced with pragmatic requirement that the resulting system, when it is used to solve real problems, must do so in an efficient, cost-effective way. This often eliminates the simple solutions which involve the mass transportation of file data from the storage site to the using site. In many cases, it causes the application system designers to repackage the structure of their applications so as to allow the shipping of an examination process to the data storage site!"
MICROCOMPUTERS (p. 41). "The motivation behind this work [a simplified microcomputer architecture] has been the view that for 20 years computer hardware has become increasingly complex, languages more devious, and operating systems less efficient. Now, microcomputers afford some of us the opportunity to return to simpler systems. Inexpensive LSI microcomputers could open up vast new markets. Unfortunately, development of these markets may be delayed by undue emphasis on performance levels which prohibit minimum cost. We are already promised more complex next-generation microcomputers before the initial ones have been widely applied."
PROGRAMMABLE CALCULATOR (p. 49). "The first pocket-sized calculator to give users full programming capability is being marketed by Hewlett-Packard Company.
"The new HP-65 calculator … enables users to write and edit their own programs, to use prerecorded programs developed by HP which solve frequently encountered problems, and to operate the 51 keyboard functions preprogrammed into the machine."
"Editing is also done with a few keystrokes. When a recorded program is no longer needed, the magnetic card can be erased on the same machine and reused to record another program. Accidental erasures can be prevented by clipping a corner of the magnetic card."
CREDIT CARD READER (p. 50). "Conrac Corporation has introduced a family of magnetic stripe card readers designated Conrac A-31 Series. These units are constant-speed motor-driven devices that read or write information on a standard-encoded American Banking Association, International Air Transport Association, Nippon Telephone and Telegraph, and Thrift Institutions or National Association of Mutual Savings Banks magnetic credit cards. The cards, standard in the U.S. and Europe, are available from several sources."
THE GHETTO GAME (p. 54). "History students at Oklahoma State University are getting a feel for the frustrations and pressures of ghetto life without ever leaving the campus.
"Through computer simulation, the students assume roles as ghetto residents. Using data stored in an IBM System/360 Model 50, they can simulate up to 10 years of ghetto life."
"'Many of our students grew up in rural communities and believe people in the ghetto fail to get ahead because they're lazy and avoid education and employment opportunities,' said history Prof. Charles M. Dollar."
"Those attitudes usually change quickly when students discover everyday ghetto obstacles during the computer simulation sessions."
STANDARDS (p. 4). "It is in the profession's interest that IEEE standards continue to be an international activity, open to all. This has been a key advantage of the IEEE's standards activities compared to the various national alternatives, for example, the British Standards Institute. The result has been that the IEEE has established a leading role in computer-oriented standards.
"I can only hope that the proposal to bring IEEE standards under the control of IEEE-USA will shortly be abandoned."
MONITORING DISTRIBUTED SYSTEMS (p. 23). "Since there is no need to modify the target distributed computing system, our [noninvasive hardware architecture] guarantees the preservation of timing constraints on real-time distributed computing systems. Without interference in the execution of the target system, the monitoring system will not change system behavior and performance. A second advantage is due to the flexibility of the programmable Q[ualification] C[ontrol] U[nit], which can be set by the user to monitor different classes of events."
GRAPHICAL DATABASE INTERFACE (p. 34). "The graphical interface presented here for querying and updating databases uses the E[xtended]C[onceptual]E[ntity]R[elationship] model, which is based on the popular entity-relationship model but has additional semantic modeling concepts. Our approach is to define graphical manipulation operators that allow queries to be specified by manipulating schema diagrams."
"To efficiently implement the operators, we can define them as functions that operate on an abstract data model. Based on the definition of these operators, the result of formulating a query can be expressed in relational query language. … Thus, the proposed graphical interface can be implemented as a front-end to an existing relational database system. Users need not be aware of the underlying transformations and can concentrate on high-level specifications for queries and updates."
STRUCTURED EXPERT SYSTEMS (p. 38). "Some conventional expert systems can acquire consultative data only through interactive input; thus, they are not suitable for problems involving large amounts of data. To overcome this drawback, automatic feeding of data from a database should be considered an essential feature of a new system architecture. Many present-day expert systems also take an unstructured approach to knowledge representation; thus, when the size of the knowledge base increases significantly, the knowledge can become unmanageable. To overcome this problem, future expert-system shells will need to use structured knowledge-representation methods."
OBJECT-ORIENTED STRUCTURES (p. 62). "The OOSD design notation synthesizes ideas from several sources. We have found OOSD very effective for representing both sequential and concurrent designs of varying sizes and with different target programming languages. As a result, we believe OOSD can be a standard design representation for software systems, serving the same purpose for software design as schematics and block diagrams for electrical engineering and overcoming a significant shortcoming of software engineering.
"OOSD notation accommodates different design styles, allowing designers to follow either a functional or an object-oriented approach. We expect that designers will gradually evolve from a top-down functional decomposition approach to an object-definition approach."
ETHICAL STANDARDS (pp. 80–81). "The IEEE does have procedures for dealing with accusations of unethical conduct, although these are little used and weak when it comes to providing due process.
"There are a number of reasons the IEEE and the Computer Society have not done more. Engineers are generally uncomfortable with ethical issues. They feel those issues are outside their competency sphere and are not as well-defined or as susceptible to rigorous analysis as purely technical problems.
"Furthermore, becoming involved with ethical issues is risky. The stakes are often very high and feelings run deep, so these issues can lead to confrontations and divisions. …"
"Whatever the reason for the reluctance to get involved in ethical issues, we can no longer afford it."
SOFTWARE AS MERCHANDISE (p. 82). "In its decision, the [US Commerce] department reasoned that packaged software is comparable to books or sound recordings, which are treated as merchandise. That is, although based on intellectual property, packaged software represents a fixed instantiation of an idea packaged, inventoried, and sold like other merchandise."
"However, software transmitted electronically for eventual distribution as packaged software would not be considered an import, the Commerce Dept.'s [Eric] Garfinkel said. The same is true for books and other intellectual property. Because there is no way to monitor incoming transmissions and decide which may result in products, the US exempts them from customs duties …"
NEURAL NET WORKSTATION (p. 100). "Hecht-Nielsen Neurocomputers has announced a commercial end-user neural network workstation called IDEPT (Image Document Entry Processing Terminal). The new computer comes with intelligent character recognition capabilities and Oscar, the company's proprietary neural network recognition software.
"According to HNC, IDEPT recognizes, captures, stores, and retrieves images. It reads forms scanned into the system. The Oscar software reportedly recognizes hand-printed characters and numbers (segmented or touching), typed characters, and printer-generated characters. It also recognizes marks such as checked boxes or circled letters or numbers."