Friday, March 30, 2012

Old electronics magazines...

I dug up two ancient copies of EDN magazine - one dated November 20, 1976 and one dated October 14, 1981. EDN was a trade magazine that, despite having a cover price, was free to those in the industry. I didn't check but doubt if it still in print.  It does, however, exist on-line: EDN, Electronics Design, Strategy, News.

I scanned a few images from each issue as shown below.

The 1976 issue included a directory of available microprocessors and a microcontroller design course.  In the good old days, you could describe how to build a computer in a free magazine.  Below are scans of the directory entries for the microprocessors that I used in my early career: The Intel 8048/8748 (a 'single chip' processor that was available with RAM, EEPROM and digital I/O), the Intel 8080/8085 (more capable than the single chip processors, but without the memory and I/O), and the Scientific Micro Systems MicroController.  The latter latter became the Signetics 8X300. It used bi-polar technology and was really fast.  It had a minimal instruction set but let you do shift and bit test while executing other instructions.

The anniversary issue was so thick that the spine edge was not reproducible.  I did scan the cover and an ad for the Apple II.   The theme of this Silver Anniversary issue was "Electronic technology...The next 25 years."   It featured opinions from various pundits on various facets of electronics technology.  There is even an allegorical story by Isaac Asimov on the impact of technology on society. The cover and intro to each article included computer generated art by David Em. 

It's a hoot to look back at where the pundits thought  we'd be. As an example, I've quoted a section of the article "The bandwidth revolution" by Jeff D. Montgomery of Gnostic Concepts.

By the late 1990's,expect bandwidth to become practically free compared with current costs. Moreover, it will be almost infinitely available.  These developments will open the way to an exciting new expansion of the electronics industry, particularly in five key areas:

  1. Video telephone.
  2. Facsimile and electronic mail.
  3. Remote document storage and retrieval.
  4. Worldwide instantaneous military data.
  5. Cashless financial transactions.
Many other major new products, some not yet conceived, will also be designed around the coming low-cost  bandwidth and will enter large-scale production over the next 25 years.
A 25-year window from 1981 takes us to 2006.  Most of the items he mentioned came to be earlier than that mark although the video phone never became widely accepted.   Unless you count Skype and smart phones! Also, unless you are power user (NASA, DoD or even some gamers), I'd say the incremental cost of bandwidth has indeed become almost free. I pay about $20 for 250 GB but, since I'm not a power user, I don't get a full bang for my buck.