Electronics Today (Jul, 1958)

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Electronics Today

The “watchspring” above is actually a torsional delay line, a device used in such applications as computer work, trigger-delay circuits and radar range measurement. Developed at Bell Telephone Labs, it is made of Vibralloy, a ferromagnetic alloy. The spiral permits clear resolution of 10-microsecond pulses spaced 20 microseconds apart.

Strange-looking plastic ball (upper left) contains series of solar cells which are used to power a large clock (above). Built in Caracas, Venezuela, the system can store enough solar energy to run the clock mechanism for 100 days. Actually, the clock is driven by a 52-pound balance weight which is hoisted into position by an electric motor powered by the eight silicon cells in the plastic ball. The bells of the clock are powered by another balance weighing 10 pounds. The clock’s inventor, Curt Kickbusch, expects to build only a half dozen more in his lifetime. This one is located at University City in Caracas. He plans to build an extra-large one at a cost of about $100,000 for the center arch of a bridge spanning Lake Maracaibo.

A camera writes Its own captions! The illustration above shows how position, altitude and other pertinent data necessary to Air Force reconnaissance can be recorded automatically on photos. Developed by Federal Telecommunication Labs, the Digital Data Recording Device records all data in coded dot form (lower right on photo). During development, a ground-based reader decodes and prints data under picture.

Tiny silicon carbide rectifier being heated red-hot by a torch (above) continues to change alternating to direct current in spite of the heat, as shown by oscilloscope trace in background. Developed by Westinghouse, the rectifier is the result of a new method of preparing ultra-pure silicon carbide. It will be used in rockets and missiles.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol and Civil Defense bus below is ready for any emergency. Stock towers made by Tele-Vue lie flat across the top of the bus until needed, then swiftly crank up to their maximum vertical position of 45 feet. In addition, the bus carries six transmitters and receivers which can be operated simultaneously, and a generator which can be rigged to supply a hospital or other such center with emergency power. The bus, built at a cost of about $14,000, will be used in such disasters as flood, tornado or forest fire by the patrol.

  1. Casandro says: July 8, 201112:51 pm

    Wow, the data on the delay line is amazingly unusable, as it misses the main point, the delay time.

  2. Andrew L. Ayers says: July 9, 20112:45 pm

    @Casandro: The data on the delay line is unusable? How do you figure that?

  3. jayessell says: July 10, 20114:49 am

    The description is unusable?
    We have no idea how much it weighs.

    What it does is rather than record information to be processed later, it’s sent to the future.

  4. Jari says: July 10, 201111:58 am

    Does the weight matter, as it’s all about the twist?

  5. jayessell says: July 10, 20112:49 pm

    I was joking about the weight.
    Yes… how much of a delay and its capacity in bits
    (assuming it’s not an analog device)
    would have been interesting.

  6. Jari says: July 11, 201111:27 am

    I thought so 🙂 What I gathered, it’s not an analog device as such as there’s only two “states”, tensioned or not. When the wire end is tensioned, it propagates as a sound wave to the other end. Now, all we’ll need is the length of that wire and the speed of sound in vibralloy.

  7. Casandro says: July 11, 201110:36 pm

    @jayessel and Jari
    Actually those devices are analog, you have a (practically) infinite number of states in which the wire can be in. However noise and maximum signal strength limit the channel capacity. Multiply that with the length of the delay and you get the maximum amount of data you can store.
    The delay line in your VCR has, for example a capacity of a few thousand bits.

    However back then people only stored simple binary pulses which greatly reduced the amount of data you could store.

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