The Community for Technology Leaders

32 & 16 Years Ago

Pages: pp. 11-12

August 1974

PUBLIC DATA COMMUNICATIONS (p. 14). "The Telenet network is based on the packet-switching technology of the ARPA Network, developed by Telenet's parent, Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc., for the research arm of the Department of Defense. Telenet will provide nationwide public data communications service utilizing the BBN-developed packet-switching technique as of January 1975."

SCHOOL COMPUTERS (p. 21). "In schools, FRED [Flexible Recreational and Educational Device] could provide a powerful educational tool. It could be used to drill and test students from first grade on. It could be used in educational games, simulation exercises, and reading readiness, as well as in teaching programming, as an adjunct to math courses, and as an accessible student tool in almost any subject. FRED could be used to set up stimulating demonstrations and experiments in a wide variety of areas, to help correct learning disabilities, and to stimulate the development of creative abilities. Cost per student hour would be measured in pennies."

REAL-TIME BANKING (p. 56). "A new data communications system, through which bank tellers and administrative personnel instantly interrogate and update customer information files stored in the bank's central computer, has been announced by Bunker Ramo's Information Systems Division of Trumbull, Connecticut. Called Bank Control System 90, it is designed to eliminate fraud losses which amount to many thousands of dollars each week in large banks, and to give real-time control of transaction and account records.

"Principal components of the system are cathode ray tube data terminals with keyboards for data entry and retrieval; minicomputers for processing bank data and controlling data traffic between each branch and the central computer site; high speed printers; validation/journal printers; credit card readers; and mini-keysets for ID entry by depositors during a transaction."

ELECTRONIC COMPOSITION (p. 57). "The RAYCOMP-100 system provides means for rapidly and accurately laying out and composing advertisements and other printed matter on a television-like screen.

"In use, the operator enters advertisement content or text material into the system by means of a keyboard and punched paper tape or from an optional magnetic tape unit. An overlay grid, indicating dimensions of the advertisement or text, is then called up and displayed on the screen.

"Advertisement content material is called up in sections and type faces and sizes selected through the keyboard. The material is manipulated, changed, edited, corrected, and finally positioned by the operator with the process repeated until the full advertisement is composed."

A GREAT LAKES NETWORK (p. 61). "A powerful, compact Varian computer will direct automated ship-to-shore communication in an advanced radiotelephone system that soon will span the Great Lakes.

"The new VHF system is being developed by Lorain Electronics, Lorain, Ohio, under contract to the federal Maritime Administration. It will be far less susceptible to interference than is the existing radiotelephone network.

"Besides handling conventional ship-to-shore calls between commercial vessels and their home offices, the system will perform a variety of automated communications functions. For example, it will poll subscribing ships at regular intervals, gathering navigation data, weather information, and messages that have been loaded into a shipboard 'status-monitor unit.'"

PHONOCARDIOLOGY (p. 63). "A minicomputer with a supersensitive 'ear' is helping researchers at the General Electric Research and Development Center identify heart defects that can escape detection during routine electrocardiographic (ECG) examinations.

"Similar in principle to the stethoscope, GE's new listening technique can provide physicians with a much broader and more accurate range of heart sounds, all fully computer-analyzed for on-the-spot interpretation and diagnosis. The data then can be accurately interpreted by family physicians and cardiac specialists alike.

"The new technique, a form of phonocardiology, is designed to supplement rather than replace ECG examinations and is expected to be clinically qualified and ready for wide-scale application within two to five years."

August 1990

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE (p. 6). "Fred Brooks said there is no 'silver bullet' for slaying the software monster… The same can be said of complex systems in general. Yet surely there are some basic principles that apply. A 'high-level' (that is, nontechnical) set that I find appealing emerged from a symposium sponsored in late 1989 by the US General Accounting Office…

  1. " Commitment and vision begin at the top. Without clear direction and support from the top, modernization programs tend to degenerate into loose collections of independent systems.
  2. " Partnerships can help define the vision. These should take place at all levels—but certainly the developers and the users of the system must actively participate on project planning committees. …
  3. " Service should be the vision's cornerstone. Successful use of information technology requires understanding the needs of the customer (user) and letting those needs dictate how technology is used.
  4. " A clear, flexible architecture should support the vision. That is, there should be a clear plan for how all major technology elements will fit into the organization's overall strategy."

VOICE IN COMPUTING (p. 8). "Over the past 10 years, the computer has evolved from a tool for computation to a tool for communication. This includes everything from writing documents to preparing presentations, and from sharing files across a LAN to sending electronic mail across an ocean. Despite this new role, computers have had little integration with the most common form of human communication: voice.

"This has resulted partly because the world continues to be split between 'telecom' and 'computing' practitioners. While it is true that computing technology has played a major part in the evolution of telephone switching, telecom practitioners have done little to extend voice communication capabilities to computers. On the other hand, computing practitioners have done little to exploit the ready availability of voice communications or to use voice as a computer interface medium. On many people's desks, the computer and the telephone sit side by side yet isolated from each other."

SPEECH RECOGNITION (p. 26). "Limited forms of speech recognition are available on personal workstations. Currently there is much interest in speech recognition, and performance is improving. Speech recognition has already proven useful for certain applications, such as telephone voice-response systems for selecting services or information, digit recognition for cellular phones, and data entry while walking around a railway yard or clambering over a jet engine during an inspection.

"Nonetheless, comfortable and natural communication in a general setting (no constraints on what you say and how you say it) is beyond us for now, posing a problem too difficult to solve."

SPEAKER RECOGNITION (p. 27). "Speaker recognition has been applied most often as a security device to control access to buildings or information. One of the best known examples is the Texas Instruments corporate computer center security system. Security Pacific has employed speaker verification as a security mechanism on telephone-initiated transfers of large sums of money. In addition to adding security, verification is advantageous because it reduces the turnaround time on these banking transactions. Bellcore uses speaker verification to limit remote access of training information to authorized field personnel. Speaker recognition also provides a mechanism to limit the remote access of a personal workstation to its owner or a set of registered users."

DATA VISUALIZATION (p. 97). "According to Vicom Systems, the Master data visualization server balances the elements needed in the fusion of image processing, graphics, and displays. Data display is reputedly uncoupled from memory and data constraints, providing complete programmability of format and data type independent from the 896 Mbytes of dynamic RAM image memory.

"The display system offers full-color, real-time display on three 1,600 × 1,280 screens as well as an X Window capability with separate lookup tables for each window. A dedicated graphics engine provides simultaneous, independent graphics processing. The 160-Mbyte-per-second, 64-bit internal bus allows concurrent operation of the four on-board processors coupled to a VMEbus."

DEFECT-FREE SOFTWARE (p. 112). "'We know how to build defect-free software,' Michael E. Fagan told 500 software developers and testers at the Seventh International Conference on Testing Computer Software June 19 in San Francisco. The key to this achievement is 'continuous incremental process improvement.'"

"The underlying problem is doing things wrong the first time through the software process. Designing and coding from incomplete requirements can halve productivity, Fagan said, by necessitating multiple trips through the software stages. …"

"There is a 'hard' relationship between quality and productivity. 'If we improve quality during development, what shows up is an improvement in productivity as well,' he asserted.

"He cited a productivity increase of 25 percent following the introduction of formal inspections on a small Aetna Life and Casualty project … At the same time, the inspections uncovered 82 percent of the errors; unit test found 18 percent; and no errors turned up on acceptance test or during the first two years of operation."

BEYOND BINARY (p. 113). "Michitaka Kameyama of Tohoku University … attributed the limitation in submicron VLSI to the interconnection problem. Devices are extremely fast, but interconnections may cause delays almost an order of magnitude higher.

"Most of the chip's area is dedicated to the transmission of signals. The number of interconnections can be reduced with multiple-valued signals. This will reduce the chip area as well as the delays. In addition, a chip using multiple-valued signals would have lower power dissipation and a reduction in crosstalk noise."

"Japanese researchers have fabricated a 32-by-32 bit multiplier chip, which internally uses radix 4, signed-digit number representation. Chip area and power dissipation are half that of the corresponding binary CMOS multiplier. The speed is comparable to the fastest binary multiplier."

PDFs of the articles and departments from Computer's August 1990 issue are available at

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