Long Island’s Electrical and Electronic History – April 2016

We are now looking at Pulse issues from the latter part of 1985. The topic for the October Section meeting was “Preservation of Your Purchasing Power”. The speaker was George Stieger of EF Hutton. I was surprised that this type of talk was selected perhaps because inflation was much higher then than now.

The MTT and Computer Society Chapters had a joint meeting on “High-Speed Digital IC Performance Outlook”. The speaker was Dr. Paul Greiling of Hughes Research Laboratories. He described chips based on gallium arsenide with clock rates as high as 2.5GHz. While this was cutting edge at the time, there have been major advances in placing many more transistors on a chip and higher speeds by having gates as short as 10 nanometers. Furthermore, silicon-based devices are now competing with gallium arsenide.

The Long Island Forum for Technology (LIFT) sponsored a meeting with three speakers on “New Computers Architectures: The Impact on Embedded Computer Systems”. The rapid advances in the number of gates that could be put on a chip raised many questions as to what changes in architecture would be required for the future design.

The talk at the November Section Meeting was held jointly with the Artificial Intelligence Committee. The topic was “An Expert System for Automatic Spoken Language Classification”. Dr. Russ Ives of Grumman was the speaker. He described a program that can, with a five-second spoken sample, identify the language that was spoken. Speech recognition techniques were beginning to be developed in the 1980’s. They are so common now that it is refreshing to sometimes talk to a real voice when you make a call.

The Communications Society presented a talk on “Design Consideration in Single-Mede Fiber Optic Systems” given by Raj Dave of Data Bit/Siemens. Fiber optics had just emerged from research state and were starting to be manufactured. The talk highlighted the lower attenuation of single-made fiber and some systems applications.

“Computers in Engineering Education” was the topic at the Computer Society’s meeting. The speaker was Dr. Melvyn Drossman of New York Tech. He described how his school was adding VLSI design and CAD workstations to the curriculum. Computer engineering is by now a well-established course of study at many engineering schools but it was still evolving in the mid-1980’s.

The December Pulse highlighted a talk by a computer pioneer, Commodore Grace Hopper. It was organized jointly by our Section and the Association for Computer Machinery. Dr. Hopper, who invented the COBOL programming language, gave a 40 year perspective on the computer field and some suggestions for the future.

Other talks in December included “The Evolution of Packet Switching” by Vincent Julien of Databit/Siemens and “Low Sidelobe Phased Array Antennas” by Helmut Shrank of Westinghouse.

It is clear from the above, that our members had the opportunity to keep up with many exciting mid-80’s developments including fiber optics, high-speed computer chips, speed recognition, antenna arrays packet switching and computer education. This, to me, is a big part of what the IEEE is all about.

As always, I think Rod Lowman, our former Historian, for saving these Pulse issues and Jim Colotti, our webmaster for posting many of them.