60th Anniversary: History 60 - 30 - 15 years ago

Happy 60th, Control Engineering! Help us celebrate by looking at issues from 60, 30, and 15 years ago. 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. While technologies have progressed since then, topics below (mathematics, automation, and acquisitions) remain relevant today.

02/07/2014


Happy 60th, Control Engineering! Help us celebrate by looking at issues from 60, 30, and 15 years ago. 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. While technologies have progressed since then, topics below (mathematics, automation, and acquisitions) remain relevant today. 

February 1955: Sibyl Rock puts digits to work, a control personality

Computers impress the layman with their apparent complexity. Their description as “brains” makes him fear for the dignity of man. But a chat with mathematician Sibyl Rock is enough to reassure him that computers are really simple and that they are our servants, never our masters. In 1954, Sibyl travelled over 30,000 miles to explain digital computers to engineers, researchers, and administrators in industrial processing plants; to guided missile engineers; to educators in our university centers; and to the uninitiated public. She finds that explanations in terms of everyday phenomena make the computers understandable by all.

February 1955 Control Engineering cover articles include “Where is electronics used in control?”, “Analyze control systems graphically,” “Regulate horsepower directly,” and “A broad look at analog computers.” Courtesy: CFE MediaSibyl has also learned that there is plenty of opportunity for women in the engineering professions. In frequent speeches to school and college groups, she urges able girls to take up mathematics as their life work. Her career demonstrates the rewards of ability.

February 1984: About automation: “We have good news, and we have bad news.”

From the special viewpoint of control engineers, it ought to be obvious to anyone that “automation” in its very essence is nothing more than practical application of feedback control techniques and theory—that is, of course, technology.

The bad news is that, to the world at large, automation seems to mean some vague “high-tech” application of computers and electronics, usually with images of anthropomorphic robots performing precision miracles of speed and position.

The visualization of robots is understandable, at least. In the kind of futuristic scenario given a false reality by Star Wars and its whole genre of copycat movies, the walking-talking human-like robot represents an ultimate achievement for high technology in the eyes of the lay observer.

On the other hand, the popular identification of automation with computers, and even with the less specific idea of “electronics,” is harder to understand, much less to accept. Nevertheless, there it is. The phenomenon seems explainable only as a special proof of Marshall McLuhan’s thesis that “the medium is the message,” with lessons for control engineers.

In both cases, the facts deny the popular perceptions. Neither computers nor electronics are necessary for automation, as control engineers we know well: the fact that both will be present in most future systems notwithstanding.

February 1999: Merger mania

Is bigger really better? Industrial controls suppliers seem to think so, as they continue a decade-long binge of merger mania.

Billion-dollar fish are swallowed by multibillion-dollar fish, with conglomerates moving farther up the food chain. The most recent acquisitions include ABB’s approved $2.1 billion bid for Elsag Bailey; Tyco International’s offer to buy AMP Inc. for $11.3 billion; and Siebe PLC’s (parent of Foxboro, Wonderware, Action Instruments, and Eurotherm) offer of $12.6 billion for BTR Group PLC.

As a testament to innovation, the most successful of small suppliers are usually acquired by the industry giants, often to have the original company founders leave the conglomerate to begin yet more start-up, technology-driven businesses.

And so the cycle continues: Innovation invites acquisition; acquisition creates wealth; wealth breeds more innovation.

- 2014 edits, by Jordan M. Schultz, associate content manager, CFE Media. 



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Engineers' Choice Awards
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
System Integrator Giants
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
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This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
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Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
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This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
May 2018
Salary and Career Survey, IT and OT convergence, robotic standards and safety, secure circuit protection
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Cybersecurity best practices, artificial intelligence, robotic additive manufacturing, embedded systems, IIoT integration, energy efficiency
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Digitalization integration, process sensors, edge computing, fog computing, condition monitoring, and motors
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This article collection contains several articles on how today's technologies heap benefits onto an edge-computing architecture such as faster computing, better networking, more memory, smarter analytics, cloud-based intelligence, and lower costs.
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Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
John O. Ayuk, PE, CFSE, PMP, CAP
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
Doug Baker
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
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Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
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This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
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This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Engineers' Choice Awards
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers. Vote now (if qualified)!
System Integrator Giants
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
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This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Wireless Reliability in Harsh Environments
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
Human Factors and the Impact on Plant Safety
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
May 2018
Salary and Career Survey, IT and OT convergence, robotic standards and safety, secure circuit protection
April 2018
Cybersecurity best practices, artificial intelligence, robotic additive manufacturing, embedded systems, IIoT integration, energy efficiency
March 2018
Digitalization integration, process sensors, edge computing, fog computing, condition monitoring, and motors
Edge Computing
This article collection contains several articles on how today's technologies heap benefits onto an edge-computing architecture such as faster computing, better networking, more memory, smarter analytics, cloud-based intelligence, and lower costs.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
PLCs
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. Featured articles in this digital report compare PLCs and programmable automation controllers (PACs), industrial PCs, and robotic controllers.
SIDB

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
John O. Ayuk, PE, CFSE, PMP, CAP
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
Doug Baker
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
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Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
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