FLASHBACK > 10 YEARS AGO
DECEMBER 17, 1992
A compiler for fuzzy-logic-controller (FLC) systems promises to reduce run-time rule evaluations by two orders of magnitude. This development should move fuzzy-logic technology even further into mainstream computing as a vehicle for controlling industrial and consumer-electronics products.
Another advantage of the compiler is that it requires minimal CPU processing power and memory space. Developed at the General Electric Research Center, Schenectady, N.Y., it can run efficiently on 8-bit or even 4-bit microprocessors, and needs only 4 to 8 kbytes of memory. The compiler is being tested in a fuzzy-logic-controlled dishwasher at GE's research center. If the testing proves successful, these breakthroughs in the technology mean fuzzy logic can be used in cost-sensitive applications, such as appliances and consumer electronics and applications that require very fast response time....
FLCs are already used in a wide range of relatively cost-insensitive applications, including subway trains, cranes, and automobile subsystems. (Technology Advances, p. 28)
FLASHBACK > 25 YEARS AGO
DECEMBER 20, 1977
Little by little, solar-cell technology is being directed by the federal government toward increasing the nation's energy supplies. While solar-electric, or photovoltaic power systems have a long way to go before they actually compete with fossil-fueled power plants, there are signs indicating that progress is being made:
- Commercial use of photovoltaic power in the field has increased to 500 kW, from 100 kW in 1970.
- The 1978 price of a unit of solar power, a peak watt (Wp), is expected to get down near $13—from $90 in 1970.
- Silicon-fabrication techniques are breaking away from the 20-year-old Czochralski growth process and edging into high-volume and potentially low-cost silicon ribbons and sheets.
- A dozen materials are being studied for their photovoltaic effect; single-crystal silicon still dominates, but polycrystal silicon, gallium arsenide, and cadmium sulphide are getting increased attention for special uses.
- Optical concentrators are increasing the effective area of solar arrays by converting more incident energy than would otherwise fall on the cells. (News, p. 24)
FLASHBACK > 40 YEARS AGO
DECEMBER 20, 1962
A prototype of a data display system that can present figures of any shape, as well as up to 5000 alpha-numeric character/s, is being sent on a tour of North American Air Defense Command bases to help determine the best ways for displaying combat information to battlefield commanders.
The Aeronutronic Div. of the Ford Motor Company... has designed the system as part of a battlefield communications network for the Army. Mounted in a van, the display console of the system is being brought to individual commanders to help gage the human factors involved in obtaining and presenting battle data and making command decisions.
A single 15 in. x 20 in. display console is mounted in the touring van. Slides showing various computer-generated as well as hand-drawn displays will be flashed on the console to be evaluated by the commanders. Any one, or combinations, of four colors can be displayed on blank or prepared backgrounds....
Any general-purpose digital computer can be used in the system. (News, p. 16)