Fifty Years ago in Computer Weekly

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1969 in computing compiled by TNMOC volunteer archivist, Brian Aldous.
A selection of stories from Computer Weekly from the spring of 1969.The full archive of Computer Weekly can be seen at TNMOC, where there are special rolling displays of front pages from 25 and 40 years ago.

Computing to the Moon Three American astronauts are now engaged high above the earth in the most complex series of manoeuvres ever carried out in space. In a period of 10 days they will simulate, during the Apollo 9 mission, the major steps in space for a manned moon landing operation. The whole exercise will require the most intense collaboration of the astronauts, a massive ground support team, and a world-wide communications network. Computers will play a vital part in the process, both in the telemetry and communication of data, and in the computation of information vital to various aspects of the mission. (CW129 p8)

Point-of-sale system could give NDPS advantage Demonstrations are now being given by the GPO’s National Data Processing Service to commercial customers of the first model of an off-line data capture system. The machine, about the size of a desk calculator, has been designed for use on PO counters as a first step to automation following the decimalisation of the currency. It will be demonstrated publicly for the first time at Datafair in Manchester in August. (CW130 p1)

Printers now use PDP/8 for setting this paper Readers probably haven’t noticed any difference in the way Computer Weekly has been printed during the last six months or so. We hope not, because during that period the type has been set and justified by computer. In August last year, our printers, QB Ltd of Colchester, installed a small (4K) PDP/8. Within a week it was operational, and today the computer is used to produce more than half of the 250,000 lines of print that pour from QB every week. (CW130 p9)

Massive Concorde test project The most elaborate computer-controlled structural testing project ever developed is being prepared to test Concorde, and it is estimated that the Mintech will be spending about £600,000 on computers, monitoring equipment and systems and programming effort. Preparations for the project are well in hand at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, at Farnborough, and the ministry has reached agreement in principle with a consortium of three firms, Digital Equipment Corp, Kent Instruments Ltd, and Computer Analysts and Programmers Ltd, for hardware and software systems (CW131 p1)

H4200 is launched on the UK market Following the success of 1968 which saw a record turnover of £32 million, Honeywell Ltd is following up its growth in the UK computer market by the introduction here of the large scale H4200. (CW131 p28)

AM-EX Hotel System Operational in July The first computerised hotel reservation system in Europe is scheduled to go into operation in London in July. It will be run by Am-Ex Express Reservations Inc, a subsidiary of American Express, the travel and financial services group. (CW132 p1)

MRC PDP-9 to control scanning device In transit from Santa Monica, California, and last heard of at Kennedy Airport, is a PDP-9 computer destined for the Medical Research Council in London. Research workers at the MRC will use the computer to control a device for scanning chromosome formations directly from microscope slides. The work makes use of sophisticated pattern recognition techniques developed over the past three years by Dr Denis Rutovitz, who up to now has been using a photograph scanning device known as FIDAC, linked with Imperial College’s IBM 7094 computer, which scans and digitises photographs taken through a microscope. (CW132 p24)

Putting Design Drawings on Tape At ICL’s Steven age plant, a system for producing engineering drawings by computer has been developed by the factory’s Design Communication Department. The system, which is concerned with speeding the flow of information rather than with design calculations, is now operational and is said to be producing considerable savings in time and manpower. (CW133 p10)

Airborne analogue for BLEU autopilot An airborne analogue computer, a ruggedised version of the EAL TR48, is being used as part of the autopilot in an aircraft at the RAE Blind Landing Experimental Unit, Bedford. The TR48, with 48 amplifiers and 12-18 non-linear units, is mounted in a Comet 3B being used for experiments in automatic landing. (CW133 p20)

Tracing the Steps of the Ferranti Mark 1 One of the areas of computer research which has received considerable attention recently is the development of visual outputs which will provide a closer man/machine interface. There is nothing new even in this for one of the first computers developed in this country featured a visual display unit as its output. (CW134 p12)

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