Long Island’s Electrical and Electronic History – May 2016

We continue our look at the 1980’s starting with the January 1986 issue of the Pulse.

Our Section held a joint meeting with the Artificial Intelligence Committee on “Computer Aided Instruction Package for AI”. The speaker was Robert Levine of Sperry. The talk emphasized object oriented programming of expert systems. Mr. Levine also showed how an expert system can be used as a teaching tool. As I recall, an “expert system” was a popular topic in the mid-80’s.
The January issue also indicated that Long Island’s own Henry Bachman was chosen as the 1986 President-Elect of the IEEE. There were announcements of two lectures sponsored by our Microwave Theory and Techniques Chapter. The first was “The Application of Microwave Technology to the Detectors and Treatment of Cancer”. The speaker was Kenneth Carr of M/A COM. He presented data that showed that the heating of cancerous tissue with directed microwave energy along with radiation treatment significantly increased remission rates. More recently microwaves have also been used in treating enlarged prostate and atrial fibrillation.

The second talk was given by Theodore Saad on “The Story of the MIT Radiation Laboratory”. Ted gave an overview of its accomplishments from the time of its founding in 1940 and its ending after World War II. I recall being at this talk. It had great meaning to me and other microwave engineers who learned so much from MIT’s monumental 28 Volume Radiation Laboratory Series published by McGraw-Hill in the early 1950’s.

The topic for the February Section meeting was “Properties of Amorphous Silicon for Photo Voltaic Cells, Xerography, Photodiodes and Thin Film Transistors” by John Coleman of Plasma Physics. The speaker predicted a $1.5 billion market for solar cells. While it took some time to mature, the solar market now far exceeds this estimate.
The Section, together with the Communication Society, announced a four-session course on “An Introduction to Spread Spectrum Communications and Radar” given by David Grieco of Grumman. Spread spectrum techniques were, and still are, of interest to reduce interference and to have secure communications.
The Artificial Intelligence Committee sponsored a talk on “Logic Programming in Automatic Equipment Diagnoses” by John Zbytniewski of Grumman. This talk reflected a trend in test equipment design to add more software and to increase automation.

The Ultrasonics Society had a lecture on “Transducers, Sensors, and Actuators” by Dr. Robert Newnham of Penn. State. He showed how new ferroelectric materials are finding application in ultrasonics.

In March, the Computer Society had a talk on “History, Meaning and Implementation of ADA” by David Fisher of Incremental Systems Corp. He described how ADA compilers could be implemented on microcomputers.

The AP Society had a talk “Performance Bounds on Monolithic Phased Array Antennas” by John Schindler of Rome Air Development Center. He compared the predicted performance of phased array radars consisting of many monolithic transmit/receive modules to that with more traditional architectures. If a similar talk were given today, much greater performance could be predicted because monolithic IC technology has made remarkable strides over the past 30 years.
Looking back, we see that this was a period where the solar cell market was beginning to grow. New programming languages for expert systems were being developed. Engineers were just starting to look at phased arrays consisting of many monolithic IC modules. This technology is rapidly maturing as can be seen by reading the March 2016 of the IEEE Proceedings that featured phased array technology.

Once again I wish to thank our former Historian, Rod Lowman for saving these Pulse issues and James Colotti, our webmaster, for posting many of them on our ieee.li website.