60th Anniversary: CE History from 60, 30, and 15 years ago

Happy 60th, Control Engineering! Help us celebrate by looking at issues from 60, 30, and 15 years ago. While technologies have progressed since then, topics below (computers, data acquisition, and Chinese computer sales) remain relevant today. Control Engineering magazine first published in September 1954. This monthly column in 2014 will review coverage in issues 60 (or 59), 30, and 15 years ago.


May 1955: Management eyes-then buys-computers

Computers and data processing face a prodigious future. Last summer Stanford Research Institute forecast a twentyfold sales growth to $500 million by 1960. Today even this figure looks conservative. While big firms, such as GE and ElectroData, are pioneering this trend, even more revealing is the acute, almost aggressive interest in computer systems by management people in all types and sizes of companies from coast to coast.

At a recent American Management Association forum in New York, the recurring and obviously bedeviling question was: What type of people will run the computer and do its programming? The happy consensus was that existing employees who are familiar with company operations are best for the job. And management knows enough today to be sharply critical of existing computer equipment. For those that sell computers, the red hot prospects are more squinty, less wide eyed. They worry less about what they can do with a computer. They swoop right down on the equipment itself and ask how it operates. [subhead]

May 1984: Data acquisition and control with personal computers—a blossoming trend

If your company has already begun its seemingly inevitable dalliance with personal computers, the options to expand their use beyond the myriad office applications to industrial control are growing fast. If your company or department doesn't yet have a personal computer, this rapid growth in control related add-ons and software suggest an opportunity to justify your initial purchase.

From the control product supply side, personal computers create interesting marketing options. They provide a relatively inexpensive and more or less universal operator interface to a variety of hardware. Using standard serial or parallel data transfer ports allows interconnection to peripherals, controllers, and other computers. These peripherals may be somehow specifically designed to operate with a personal computer host or, just as likely, they may be designed to operate with any host that has compatible port plugs. The key to marketing them as personal computer systems lies in the software. Some, like Analogic's IC 4400 Series, have floppy-disk-resident software to be plugged into the personal computers. Others, like Burr-Brown's PCI-3000, have the bulk of the specialized software burned into EPROM in the peripheral itself. 

May 1999: PC use, manufacturing, sales surge in China

Personal computers (PCs) are making enormous gains in China in manufacturing technology and overall use. As a result, the nation's PC sales were expected to be among the world's largest and fastest growing in 1998.

China sold 3.2 million PCs in 1997 and was projected to sell more than 4 million in 1998. Following a slow start in the early 1990s, China's PC market swelled significantly in the past two years. Annual sales growth has been over 50% since 1995. Two of China's largest cities, Beijing and Shanghai, lead the country in PC penetration.

A report by a Chinese market research company, HuiCong (Beijing, China), predicts China's PC market will continue to grow at more than 40% annually during 1998-99, expanding the total market to 8.3 million units by 2000. The report adds China's PC market will also maintain its momentum and continue to grow as the 21st century begins.

- 2014 edits, to fit this page, by Jordan M. Schultz, associate content manager, CFE Media.

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