Spring 1976 from the pages of Computer Weekly

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40 Years Ago ... from the pages of Computer Weekly

compiled by TNMOC Volunteer Archivist, Brian Aldous

A selection of stories from Computer Weekly in spring 1976.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. This article appears in the latest issue of Resurrection, the newsletter of the Computer Conservation Society.

Intel ready with ‘chip’ computer The computer-on-a-chip will come a significant step nearer in the summer when Intel launches its new 8048 device, which incorporates active and passive memory on the same chip as the processor itself. The 8048 will not be available before September, but Intel sees it as the most important development in the microprocessor industry since the introduction of the Intel 8080 eight-bit microprocessor chip itself. CW 494 p1

Cray wins two big orders The specialist mainframe manufacturer Cray Research of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, has received two orders for its Cray 1 supercomputer and has also raised $9 million as a result of going public. One machine is in operation at a customer site, while the second is due to be delivered in July 1977. The first machine, with a 500,000 64-bit word memory, is at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico on a six month inspection basis. The laboratory is primarily running test problems to evaluate the machine and first reports indicate that the system is performing “exceptionally well”. CW499 p2

Decoder could bring cheaper UK Teletext A new decoder which promises a dramatic reduction in the cost of teletext television receivers has been announced by the Labgear division of Pye, and with the UN International Radio and Television Consultative Committee ready to adopt the British standard, established by the BBC and the IBA, as the international teletext standard, the commercial success of the new information medium now seems assured. CW 498 p32

2903 shows one-shift work pattern The average ICL 2903 in the UK is used for less than one shift a day, but only 5.5 hours of this is production work, another 1.3 hours on average being used for development, according to a survey by Systemsolve. CW 487 p4

Low-cost version of the 4080 mini released by GEC A low-cost version of the 4080 minicomputer has been announced by GEC. Designated the 4070, it gives 75 per cent of the performance of the 4080 and is aimed at users who do not really need the 550 nanosecond memory cycle of the 4080. CW 487 p3

US military shortlists Coral 66 in real time language hunt Initial tentative examination of Coral 66 by the US armed services in their search for a new standard real time language has now assumed a far more definite character, with the inclusion of Coral in a final shortlist of about 12 languages. CW 487 p32

Customs plan Import network A nationwide on-line terminal network planned by the Customs for clearing imported goods at UK seaports looks like becoming a reality. Prospective terminal suppliers have received an operational requirement and Customs are awaiting detailed proposals. Eight major UK ports will be involved in the network. CW 488 p1

Lord’s retrieval going ahead, Commons wait While plans for the full House of Lords computer-based information retrieval system are nearing the tendering stage, the House of Commons will still have to wait for some time for its own retrieval system, according to a parliamentary reply last week. This has led to protests from the MP responsible for the question. CW 488 p2

World challenge to EMI brain scanner Challenges to EMI’s near monopoly of the X-ray brain scanner market have come from the US, Germany, France and Japan, as other companies try to cash in on this specialised market which has brought the UK firm £80 million worth of business in four years. CW 488 p47

Philips’ micro controlled teleprinter The latest development in the long history of the teletypewriter has come from Philips which has introduced the PACT - Programmed All-purpose Communication Terminal - microprocessor-controlled machine. A Philips spokesman said that the microprocessor, an eight-bit 2650, came from Signetics, the US company taken over by Philips last spring. CW 489 p1

EPSS packet exchange A major step towards the full operation of the Post Office’s Experimental Packet Switched Service was taken at the beginning of the month when packets were exchanged, via the switching exchange in Manchester, by the National Computing Centre and Manchester University Regional Computing Centre. CW 489 p4

London tests of EPSS exchange Following the successful exchange of packets over the Post Office Experimental Packet Switched Service by the National Computing Centre and Manchester University, the London exchange has been put through its paces by a number of users with different mainframes, network interfaces and terminals. CW 490 p40

ICL gets its 2960 workhorse on the road Some 12 months after it was originally scheduled for release, the ICL 2960 has now been formally announced. Seen as a mid-range machine which will appeal to many existing ICL 1900 users, the 2960 has just over half the power of the 2970 and sells for upwards of £520,000. CW 491 p1

ARPA – Coral link-up The link of the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment's GEC 4080 processor into the world wide ARPA telecommunications network was officially inaugurated last week by the Queen. The connection will allow the RSRE's compiler for the government standard real time language, Coral 66, to be accessed by all users of the network. CW 491 p40

ATC radar processing by Ferranti Under a contract worth about £350,000, Ferranti is to supply the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down, Dorset, with an air traffic control system for processing and displaying secondary surveillance radar and remote primary radar data. CW 492 p32

USAF give minis ‘crisis’ job Crisis management is the formidable task to which three SEL 32/55 minicomputers are to be assigned by the US Air Force Systems Command. The three minis being acquired from Systems Engineering Laboratories of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, under a £1 million contract, are to be installed at Beale Air Force Base, California, where they will go in to service with the Ninth Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. The minis will form part of the SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ ground support computer systems, and will improve the capability at Beale for crisis management operations. CW 493 p25

IBM challenges desktop market with 5100 release Designed for commercial, statistical and mathematical problem solving, the IBM 5100 portable computer, now announced in the UK, offers Basic and APL programming and up to 64Kbytes of main memory in a 50lb desktop unit. In one unit, the 5100 also incorporates a typewriter keyboard, a numeric keypad, a display screen showing up to 16 lines of characters, and an exchangeable magnetic tape cartridge unit. CW 495 p32

Newspaper’s distribution to go automatic Publisher of the Glasgow Herald, George Outram and Co, has signed a £189,000 contract with Prime Computer for two minicomputer-based systems to handle distribution and commercial applications. They are due to go live by late summer. The distribution system will be based on a 160K Prime 300 running under DOS/VM and using the FIRST transaction processing software. Peripherals will include two 12-Megabyte disc drives, console, line printer, and five Lynwood VDUs. CW 496 p32

CTL Series 8000 succeeds Mod One A new range of small, multi-access computer systems on which Computer Technology will be pinning its hopes of continued success until well into the 1980s was unveiled by the company last week. The new range, called Series 8000, has arrived 10 years after the birth of CTL with its Modular One, and is based on the best features of the latest versions of that machine. The Series 8000 sees CTL turning the Modular One from a single computer meeting all needs, to a range of systems for all sizes of installation and application. CW 498 p3

‘Ideal’ standard set for US forces With its selection of a new standard real time language now begun, the US Department of Defense has published its report setting out the criteria for the ideal language. Some of these standards, unfortunately, seem to reduce the chances of either of the two UK languages under evaluation, Coral 66 and Algol 68, emerging as the DoD’s final choice. CW 498 p8

First UK 2904 order The first order for ICL’s new 2904 has come from Petters of Staines, Middlesex, an engine manufacturer and part of the Hawker Siddeley group. The £182,000 2904 will be installed early next year, when it will replace a remote job entry terminal linked to a 1903T at another Hawker Siddeley plant. The system will include 40K of memory and two EDS60 disc units. CW 499 p32

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