14 May 2012

Scope Sunday 29

I apologize for the lengthy absence, but end-of-term teaching obligations got the better of me. However, I have just submitted my final grades, and I'm looking forward to getting back to my "other" jobs. Here are a few updates from the last month that I have been remiss in contributing:

1. Last weekend, I attended NEAR-fest up in Deerfield, N.H. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperative (cold and damp), and the turn-out was low. I didn't see any interesting gear there, and all I bought was a couple of books. Looking at my phone, I only took one picture while I was there (and it was for a friend, who was looking for a spectrum analyzer).

2. On the way home from NEAR-fest, I stopped by Electronic Surplus Services in Manchester, but I all found was a shelf of undesirable plug-ins (mostly 7A18 vertical amplifiers and slow time bases).

3. Also, last weekend, I hopped down to New Jersey and attended the Vintage Computer Festival East 8.0 at Camp Evans in Wall, N.J. I gave a talk on the history and legacy of analog computers. There were quite a few interesting computers on display in the exhibit hall, but only one Tektronix oscilloscope: a rack-mount RM503 that was connected to a PDP-8.

Another exhibit that caught my eye was a gentleman who had several boards from a Minuteman I flight computer. I recognized these boards because I has seen them on Jim Williams' living-room wall. (See the first three minutes of this video.)

However, tucked into corner of one of the exhibit rooms in the InfoAge Center and Museum was this poster, with a story about Howard Vollum that I had not heard before:

4. Next weekend is the Dayton Hamvention. Let me know if you're going; I hope to see you there.


Jonathan said...

I had forgotten that devices were once constructed using wrapping techniques ...

Thanks for the picture.

DennisF said...

"... Electronic Surplus Services in Manchester ..."

And if you get to Cleveland, visit the Electronics Surplus store downtown and have them direct you to their old, multistory warehouse by the river. It is loaded (last time I was there, about 10 years ago) with old test and measurement instruments, going cheap.

I didn't know Howard Vollum met Bill Hewlett while he was in the military, but afterward their two companies had a very friendly relationship.

Tek and HP had a "patent pool" where they freely shared each other's patents. Neither was obsessed with patents but put their hopes instead on future accomplishments instead of relying on what was done in the past. Tek could never quite outdo HP in spectrum analyzers and HP could never quite outdo Tek in scope triggering.