Electronic Design

Flashback

FLASHBACK > 10 YEARS AGO

DECEMBER 3, 1992
To get real-time video in a PC's window, most designers expect to contend with a complex video subsystem that has dedicated hardware to accelerate the video decompression or compression. However, a just-released software decompression scheme allows Microsoft Windows-based PCs to create, edit, and play back digital video. And the software runs on all implementations of Windows, from "Modular Windows" on consumer devices to Windows 3.1 for desktop PCs, plus Windows NT for workstations.

When installed on a system, the software first analyzes the hardware. It then selects one of three compression/decompression algorithms to achieve the maximum-quality level possible based on the performance of the host computer. The higher the computer's performance, the better the video quality.

The Video for Windows software—Indeo—was jointly developed by Intel Corp., Hillsboro, Ore., and Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash. It's both a software architecture and a shrink-wrapped package sold to end users. (Technology Advances, p. 34)

FLASHBACK > 25 YEARS AGO

DECEMBER 6, 1977
Contrary to popular opinion, electronic devices on drawing boards or under development for cars of the 1980s must be as dependable as devices used in space.

There is a general belief that if electronics can operate reliably in the harsh environment of space, it can perform much more easily in a car. Therefore, less reliability is required.

"No way," says Eugene Karrer... of Ford Motor Co.'s Electrical and Electronic Div. "The automobile is one of the most difficult design environments, with extremes of heat and cold, high humidity, variations in power, vibrations, and severe road jolts."...

Ford is speeding up the application of electronics to engine controls, because "this is the only way we can see to meet the Federal requirements for emission control and fuel economy,'' Karrer explains.

"Not only do we have the problems of meeting emission and fuel economy standards, which are severe enough. But we also must consider safety and consumer protection regulations, which require very accurate power-train control and inherently high reliability." (News Scope, p. 22)

FLASHBACK > 40 YEARS AGO

DECEMBER 6, 1962
Business-equipment manufacturers, users of data processors, and communicators are expected to adopt a standard code of seven bits for information exchange.

The proposed code already is influencing design of equipment and is expected eventually to have extensive influence on data-processing and communication systems. The code's designers have recommended that it be implemented directly in cards and paper and magnetic tape. This could lead to monumental changeover of existing files, based on the older six-bit codes.

The new standard for coded character sets is a long way from official, much less general, adoption by such organizations as the American Standards Association (ASA), the Business Equipment Manufacturers Association (BEMA), the ACM, and the IRE....

Seven bits were chosen... because data-interchange needs have outgrown the capacity of six-bit codes, and eight bits would push the cost of changeover even higher than the admittedly high expense of switching to the seven-bit standard. (News, p. 4)

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