Monday, April 02, 2012

Technology '77 and '78

I found a couple of old issues of IEEE Spectrum, the Technology '77 and '78 issues. These were heavy on words and light on photos so I merely scanned the covers. As I thumbed through them, I jotted down a few things that were hot back then.

  • DEC advertised that their T55 could do a 1024 sample FORTRAN FFT in 62ms (fixed) or 89ms (floating-point).
  • Space Shuttle Enterprise had just rolled out a few months earlier.
  • The Zilog Z-80 had come out the year before.
  • Digital radio was being discussed.
  • 48 channel PCM cable multiplexers were where state of the art.
  • 54 and 54LS logic was mainstream and ECL was state of the industry.
  • 16kB RAM was all that.
  • California had voted down their "nuclear initiative" and the Alaska pipeline promised to ease our "fuel-oil drought."
  • "CB (radio) explodes and video games capture the consumer's fancy."
  • Viking had just landed on Mars.



  • Special purpose "NumberCruncher" arithmetic accelerators were new.
  • IEEE-488 GPIB chips were also out.
  • Microprocessors had made their way into the CB radio.
  • Core memories were still hanging around.
  • Fiber optics transmissions were going at a blazing 140Mb/s.
  • 64 MB dynamic RAMs were only on the horizon.
  • VHS was duking it out with Beta.
  • The Radio Shack TRS-80 and Heath's H8/11 were hot.
  • The Voyager spacecraft had been launched the summer before and Viking was going strong on Mars.
  • Space Shuttle Enterprise flew free and landed in the California desert.
  • Loran-C was the big thing in navigation.