Issue No. 03 - March (2007 vol. 40)
DOI Bookmark: http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/MC.2007.78
INTERRUPTS REFUTED (p. 20). "The [Plessey] System 250 represents the ultimate refutation of the externally-imposed interrupt, for it is designed to operate in the most severe interrupt situation of all, namely real-time control. Nevertheless it has no interrupts. Instead, this operational multiprocessor with a multiprogramming operating system and virtual memory employs a hardware message queue … . Each processor has its own adjustable interval timer that is used by the operating system to guarantee examination of the message queue at the required frequency."
DIGITAL LOGIC SIMULATION (p. 49). "The need for accurate, flexible, and efficient fault simulation systems has steadily increased during recent years, and they are becoming a very important part of many design automation systems. Such systems require a large amount of initial programming and continued software maintenance. Because of this they are expensive to develop, and mistakes in the design phase of such systems can quickly render it useless and costly beyond all belief."
GRAPHICS DISPLAY (p. 61). "Intermedia Systems has announced the Model 4416 Graphic Video Generator I/O card for Hewlett-Packard 2000 series computers. This single card graphics system generates a composite video signal which displays a 256 × 256 point matrix on standard television monitors. All power—less than 8 watts—is supplied by the computer.
"Color and/or grey scale displays may be generated by using the internal synchronizing feature of two or more Graphic Video Generators. The local screen refresh memory is implemented with 4K RAMs, which permit a plotting rate in excess of 200,000 points per second. Each point in the memory may be individually set or cleared."
EPROM (p. 62). "A relatively new item in the computer world is the erasable programmable read-only memory unit, which can be programmed electrically and erased by shining ultraviolet light through the transparent quartz cap.
"Ultraviolet Products, Inc., has developed a short wave ultraviolet lamp specifically for the erasure of PROM units. The higher the intensity of short wave output, the shorter the exposure time required for PROM erasure. Model S-52's high intensity at 254 nm—15,000 microwatts/cm 2 at 1″ (2.5 cm)—provides complete erasures in approximately six minutes."
PRINTING CALCULATOR (p. 63). "A new electronic calculator from Casio, Inc., the Casio Mini-Printer, is the first hand-held model to offer a combination of printed tape with an eight-digit display.
"The heart of the mini-printer is the pulse motor drive, a development which provides the power to drive the half-inch printer drum inside the compact 25-ounce housing. It offers users an easy to read permanent record on plain paper tape of all calculations, achieved by ink roll printing which eliminates the need for a printing ribbon."
"The mini-printer has an electronic memory which permits handling of automatic accumulation for +, -, ×, and ÷. Its square root and simple algebraic logic operations eliminate the need for a learning period in its use."
CONTINENTAL DRIFT (p. 68). "A computer program being developed in Australia enables reconstruction of the globe to test theories of the earth's development. As one of the most advanced programs of its kind, it is being used to test theories about sea-floor spreading—the recently accepted phenomenon of continental drift."
"Devised by the Department of Geology at the Australian National University in Canberra, the program is called CONTPLOT. It involves feeding into a UNIVAC 1108 computer masses of digitized data on the latitude and longitude positions of the continents on the globe.
"Other information such as magnetic pole positions for each continent at different eras of the world's development, sea floor magnetic data, age determination of rocks, and various other world geological features is fed into the program."
OPEN CHEST SURGERY (p. 9). "Imagine for a moment the enormous satisfaction of watching a computer-based heart-lung machine you helped develop sustain the life of a 40-year-old man whose heart is stopped during open-chest surgery. With the machine's aid, the surgical team is extending this individual's productive life. The relationship the perfusionist (the machine's operator) has with the machine is very personal—almost spiritual. Her professional role depends on the machine's performance, since its function literally means the difference between life and death to the patient.
"No one in the operating room thinks about the real-time performance of nine on-board processors and the thousands of lines of C code within the machine—it's simply taken for granted that the machine will work. Yet millions of dollars and many man-years of effort were applied to making sure the machine would work as the perfusionist, the thoracic surgeon, and, most importantly, the patient require."
EYE MONITOR (p. 14). "The common experience of momentarily misperceiving one object as another shows that the human visual system uses internal models or representations of objects during visual search. The shape, color, size, position, direction, and velocity of movement all contribute to the brain's ability to recognize objects quickly.
"To track the eye, we use a design philosophy inspired by the human visual system. The eye monitor incorporates an internal representation or model of what the eye looks like to a video camera. The system can measure the position of the eyes and the size of the pupil in the presence of interfering noise, in patients wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses, and in spite of defocus due to small movements in depth by the patient."
BIOMEDICAL SPECTRAL ANALYSIS (p. 33). "Medical practitioners are increasingly using computer-based medical systems to collect, store, and process digitized biological signals.
"The signals they collect and process via these systems include bioelectric potentials, such as those generated by the heart …, brain …, or skeletal muscles … . Such signals include nonelectric signals that might be transduced and then recorded (for example, breath sounds or speech waveforms), and biomedical images from ultrasound, X-ray, CAT scan, MRI, etc,
"These signals are often interpreted heuristically by medical practitioners, and the need for sophisticated algorithms for processing, coding, and automatically interpreting the information these signals contain is increasing. Among the advantages of automated processing are objectivity, reliability, repeatability, and speed."
NEURONET (p. 45). "The environment in a tertiary health care center such as the University of Pittsburgh medical center requires provision of service without delay or inconvenience to the referring physician at all times. Although it is expensive to provide enough equipment to cover peak times, the primary difficulty is in providing competent staff neurophysiologists to oversee multiple simultaneous procedures throughout the complex.
"The university's health center encompasses seven hospitals. At any time, a dozen or more procedures may simultaneously require a neurophysiologist's supervision. To enhance the observational ability of the staff neurophysiologist on call, a variety of remote capabilities were incorporated in Neuronet, including manual remote display, automatic remote display, and manual remote-message passing."
SOFTWARE ENGINEERING (p. 74). "The accelerating impetus for common international software engineering standards will undoubtedly affect the software industry. These standards may hinder the capability of individual companies to market software products and services in worldwide markets. The European Council 92 has stated its intent to adopt and enforce international standards, including a common set of software engineering standards, for all 12 member nations of the European Economic Community. Given the immensity of this market—larger than that of the US—vendors outside Western Europe will have little choice but to conform to EEC-sanctioned standards. Enforcement will include requirements for product certification and warranty, and purchasers may require certified compliance as a contractual element."
ELECTRONIC MAIL (p. 81). "In 1990, the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria were admitted to the European Academic and Research Network, which is part of the worldwide academic and research network. Of this group, those who have not yet installed international links to EARN soon will, and this raises questions regarding communications between Western nations and the former Soviet bloc.
"East-West communications have long been dominated by official discussions between carefully selected individuals. However, informal, educational, free-thinking, and frank discussions between colleagues, families, friends, hobbyists, and schoolchildren are now occurring as well. Electronic mail will become an important part of these communications."
INTERNET (p. 83). "Although Western governments have not decided how to deal with the increasing flow of information, many of their citizens certainly have. Person-to-person contacts are increasing daily. Expatriated Poles with access to EARN read a daily news bulletin, Donosy, compiled and edited in Warsaw and distributed worldwide via e-mail. EARN discussion lists on the Baltic Republics have been focal points for information transfer in a tense and rapidly changing environment. Similar discussions have brought modems and spare equipment to institutions all over the Soviet Union.
"Unusual situation have already resulted, such as the Carnegie Foundation-IREX contribution toward the Soviet Union's EARN link. This US foundation is providing $100,000 to the USSR to pay Europeans for a network connection. The poor state of the US economy, however, suggests that the US should not support this effort alone."
KANA OCR (p. 85). "Researchers at Toshiba's Systems and Software Engineering Laboratory have developed a prototype optical character reader that reportedly can recognize handwritten digits and Japanese katakana characters with an average precision of 95 percent, even when samples include poorly written script.
"The system, which combines a conventional OCR system with neural networks developed following an analysis of 230,000 handwriting samples, runs on Toshiba's AS4000 engineering workstation."