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32 & 16 Years Ago

Pages: pp. 10-11

February 1975

HARVARD MIS PROGRAM (p. 8). "Presently the typical graduate of a master's program in business administration lacks the technical depth needed to guide the development of advanced computer systems, while those trained in PhD programs in computer science are often too technically specialized to appreciate the over-all operation of organizations or to fully anticipate the effects their decisions might have on aspects of the organization not immediately related to the problem at hand. Harvard's new information sciences program is designed to provide sound training in both these areas—technical and managerial."

MINICOMPUTERS (p. 15). "… there is a pressing need for a test to distinguish a minicomputer [from] any other kind of computer. The question is also of considerable administrative and economic importance, since many organizations have instituted complicated bureaucratic procedures to preclude the purchase of unnecessary computers, while making specific exceptions in the case of minicomputers. Hence it may be of some usefulness to the individual researcher to be able to show that the unnecessary computer he proposes to purchase is in fact only a minicomputer, and need not be subject to formal justification and review."

MEMORY SYSTEMS (p. 21). "Continuing research and development are aimed at improving memory systems along two broad fronts. One obvious direction for new developments is to improve the performance of existing memory types—e.g., faster semiconductor memories, larger capacity disks, and faster [magnetic] tapes. The second direction for new developments is to fill in the gaps between the classes mentioned above. We see, for example, the development of memory devices which have the capacity and low material cost of magnetic tape but can also be accessed in non-serial mode, which therefore makes them fill the gap between disk memories and magnetic tape. Similarly, we see developments that are aimed at bridging the speed gap between working memory and the faster circuitry of the arithmetic and logic units of a computer. Cache memory systems are examples of this development thrust. The gap in both speed and cost between working memory and magnetic drums or disks is now being attacked in many developments."

INTEGRATED CIRCUITS (p. 25). "As yields rise and costs decrease, new markets will open for IC CPUs, RAMs, and ROMs. The hand calculator market has demonstrated the growth and cost reduction that is possible with ICs in a new competitive market area. The automotive processor/controller market will soon become cost effective with OEM costs in the $5-10 range, creating a yearly market of 10-20 million units. Chips of the type and complexity of those used in hand calculators and automotive areas will be suitable for a variety of other large consumer applications in the home, the office, and recreational areas."

ELECTRONIC DISKS (p. 45). "In the next few years development will have been completed on a number of devices to which we have given the generic name 'Electronic Disks.' These devices may be based on many different technologies, three examples being bubble memories, electron beam addressed memories, and optical systems. Such devices are at least two orders of magnitude cheaper than the main memory of a computer. In addition, the access time to information will be several orders of magnitude less than that found with rotating disks or drums."

DOCUMENTATION (p. 56). "When management is not geared for (1) writing specifications that can be clearly understood for system design and program development, and (2) preparing program documentation that can be easily understood for training and program maintenance or modified for use in similar applications, an excess[ive] number of programmers is required to develop a new system, or to keep the on-going system patched together."

VOICE CONTROL (p. 64). "Scope Electronics Inc., Reston, Virginia, has announced development of a voice-controlled typewriter system, which recognizes human speech and provides for direct voice activation of all the keys of an electric typewriter. In addition, a buffer display holding 16 characters provides a means for text editing. It is possible to erase and change either individual characters or the entire buffer contents by voice command prior to printing."

LASER WIRING (p. 71). "IBM researchers have reported discovery of a method of using laser pulses to form microscopic electrical connections on fully processed integrated circuit chips. The new technique provides a powerful tool for repairing defective chips and custom 'wiring' of general-purpose chips such as programmable logic arrays.

"Lasers have previously been used in electronic device fabrication for such applications as trimming resistors and cutting connections. The key feature of the IBM discovery is that laser pulses can also make new connections, through a layer of silicon dioxide, between an aluminum conductor on the surface of the chip and conducting channels in the silicon below. Connections can be made without damaging adjacent fragile transistors or transistor-like structures."

February 1991

STREAM CIPHERS (p. 8). "Stream ciphers play an especially important role in cryptographic practices—both diplomatic and military—that protect communication in the very high frequency domain. The central problem in stream-cipher cryptography, however, is the difficulty of generating a long unpredictable sequence of binary signals from a short and random key. Unpredictable sequences are desirable in cryptography because it is impossible, given a reasonable segment of its signals and computer resources, to find out more about them. Pseudorandom bit generators have been widely used to construct these sequences."

EXPERT SYSTEMS (p. 19). "The expert system tool market has undergone a remarkable change compared to the market that existed a few years ago. The number of tools has increased significantly. Prices have declined dramatically. Many of these tools are written in languages other than Lisp and execute on a variety of hardware platforms.

"Because of these changes, separating fact from hyperbole when selecting expert system tools has become even more difficult. Vendor literature, demonstrations, and even reference manuals are subject to exaggerated claims. Along with the technical issues, lack of a standard terminology, large variances in price and performance, and evidence that price is not necessarily an indicator of performance add to the problems prospective users face when selecting tools."

VOICE-DATA COMMUNICATION (p. 49). "The study of high-speed fiber optic local and metropolitan area networks (LANs and MANs) has been gaining rapid momentum because of recent advances in fiber optic technology, which promise high data rates over long, repeater-free distances. Scientists anticipate that not only will these high-speed LANs and MANs carry voice and data, but they will also integrate other services such as digitized video (from teleconference quality to HDTV), facsimile, and graphics, some of which will consume huge amounts of bandwidth. As first attempts, several data protocols for such networks have been proposed, and several of these protocols have been modified or extended to provide integrated voice-data service."

SOFTWARE COMPONENTS (p. 61). "Effective reuse of knowledge, processes, and products from previous software developments can increase productivity and quality in software projects by an order of magnitude. In fact, software production using reusable components will probably be crucial to the software industry's evolution to higher levels of maturity.

"Software reuse is not new. … However, the method has never acquired real momentum in industrial environments and software projects, despite its informal presence there."

TIME STAMPS (p. 80). "Concerned over the ease with which digital photographs could be altered and made to misrepresent facts and events, Scott Stornetta began to think of ways to verify the authenticity of all sorts of electronic documents. When he went to work as a researcher at Bellcore … he met Stuart Haber, another Bellcore researcher interested in the same problem. Together they developed a way to time-stamp an electronic data file while providing the means to detect subsequent alterations. Bellcore has applied for a patent on the method.

"Because the system operates on bits rather than on text, all types of digital data, from business documents to audio tracks to motion pictures, could be time-stamped for protection. Tamperproof time stamps might also be used to establish chronology in patent disputes."

SOFTWARE RENTAL (p. 80). "Legislation passed by Congress and signed by the president December 1, 1990, addresses problems involving the rental of copyrighted software and its effect on the sales market for that software.

"A House subcommittee chaired by Rep. Robert Kastenmeier introduced the Computer Software Rental Act of 1990, intended to balance the rights of software owners and users."

"For clarification, Kastenmeier said the common practice of transferring employer-owned software among employees at the same location or carrying it to other worksites via portable computers is not prohibited by the bill."

MEMORY BOARDS (p. 82). "Memory is an increasingly important component in IBM PC-AT compatible computers. The traditional 640-Kbyte or 1-Mbyte system is simply inadequate due to the growing popularity of extended DOS environments such as Microsoft Windows. Desqview and Lotus 1-2-3 have also contributed to the hunger for memory. Fortunately, decreasing memory prices are making memory upgrades more feasible for millions of 286 and 386 PC owners."

TURBO C++ (p. 87). "Object-oriented programming has been a topic of detailed discussion in the literature for some time. Since the C programming language is so predominant, C++, the extension of C into the object-oriented environment, has also received its share of attention. Most of the C++ compilers that are available for the PC market generate C code, which must then be fed into a standard C compiler—a slow and clumsy approach. Until recently, few compilers have handled C++ code directly. The introduction of Turbo C++ from Borland International represents the first offering of a complete C++ development environment from a major manufacturer of programming language tools. It should have a significant impact on the use of C++ in the PC arena."

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