50, 25, 10 Years Ago
This page offers a look back on a variety of interesting items from Control Engineering's past issues, highlighting content from 50, 25, and 10 years ago. March 1955 Tape-controlled machine out-embroiders Grandma Data-processing experts of the AIEE were recently invited to turn their attention to the feminine art of embroidering.
This page offers a look back on a variety of interesting items from Control Engineering 's past issues, highlighting content from 50, 25, and 10 years ago.
Tape-controlled machine out-embroiders Grandma
Data-processing experts of the AIEE were recently invited to turn their attention to the feminine art of embroidering. It happened at the annual winter meeting in New York when Louis Casper described a prototype tape-controlled embroidery machine developed by Electrotext Corp. Casper predicted that "telegraphic engineers ... might profitably extend their normal interest ... to comprehend the new uses of signals for control of mechanisms in the textile industry."
Electrotext's punch-tape embroiderer is capable of revving up to 500 stitches per needle-minute—the equivalent of who knows how many deft grandmotherly hands. Furthermore, the color, direction, and length of each individual stitch are anticipated in the instant between needle sticks.
Casper believes that a dexterous gang of embroidering machines may parallel loom activity in producing overall patterns and even solid textures of one color.
Also reported in this issue: fourscore definitions of the word "automation" and as many different concepts of its impact on society prompted the alert New York Alumni Club of Massachusetts Institute of Technology to call for an explanation from two of their former teachers, who certainly ought to know what it's all about.
The Proway Project
Someday the control engineer may be able to choose any computer, a variety of controllers, actuators, and instrumentation from several manufacturers, and plug them all together on a standard communications network that can optionally use twisted-shielded pairs, coaxial cable, or even fiber optics. That day won't be tomorrow or even next year, but a working group of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and its mirror committees in several countries, is promising that the day may not be far off with further development of Proway: a Process Data Highway.
Proway is a proposed system for communication between devices that comprise a distributed process control system. When the specifications, tightened and refined, at long last make their way from the international committee to the designer's desk, devices from different manufacturers—Beckman together with Honeywell, Taylor as surely as Foxboro—will be able to connect to the same data highway and communicate with each other.
Market Update— Recent studies project continuing sales growth for process control instruments and industrial controls in the USA and the world. According to Automated Imaging Association, worldwide sales could increase from $745 million in 1993 to $1.3 billion in 1998.
Signal conditioning is becoming I/O processing —SMT and ASICs are eliminating the need for signal conditioning as a separate, intermediate function. Splitting and networking signal-conditioning functions are evolving into I/O processing... Integrated systems based on this approach should bring the user host-independence, improved fault-tolerance, additional fail-safe features, and a simplified wiring installation.
Validating data from smart sensors —Intelligent sensors are now able to perform self-diagnostics, but how are fault messages to be integrated into a control system? Manus Henry of Oxford University (U.K.) argues that a standard is needed for describing sensor data validity and outlines the proposal for such a standard in the Sensor Validation (SEVA) project.
In August, Control Engineering also published a supplement, the "1994 Board-Level Product Guide."