Electronics Tale

Started by Mister URL, August 22, 2022, 05:58:20 PM

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Mister URL

I have a folder on my PC that is "Unpublished Stories". Probably everyone does. These are snippets, short stories, beginnings of epic novels, etc. It is unlikely I will ever publish them so I am tossing them out here to be enjoyed by anyone that passes by.

This is a non-fiction tale of electronics. Pretty exciting, huh? It is a couple of thousand words long, so I have broken it into chewable hunks.

A few thoughts on computers and the electronics that make them chug along. I know a lot about electronics. I spent forty-one years in the field, and probably had a total of three full years of classroom and lab training on various aspects of it during that time. This was not a liberal arts education: the first year and a half of class was provided by the Air Force, and they have no real interest in teaching you History or Art or English Lit. They want you to know electronics and you got six hours a day, five days a week, for a long, long time.

My later education came in the control systems business. I worked for a petroleum products pipeline for thirty-six years designing, building, installing, and maintaining high-end control systems. These SCADA systems allowed remote control of far-flung facilities from a central point.

I think (and I am biased) that my years in the digital electronics field were the golden years of electronics. It went from hardwired relay and vacuum tube computers to high-density programmable microprocessors during the span of my career. It covered memory from magnetic core memory stacks that had three tiny wires hand-threaded through each ferrite doughnut, providing perhaps 2k of memory, up to non-volatile RAM and DRAM chips that contained gigabytes in one chip. Those were heady years for a designer. SSI, MSI, LSI, EEPROM, USART, the acronyms flowed from our tongues like water. (Or saliva; we often went around with our mouths hanging open.)

Gates of OR, AND, NOR, NAND, flip-flops; We twisted logic elements into the shape we wanted and forced them to perform for us. We were the über nerds, the ones that held the magic of purpose-designed logic in our brains. All things come to an end. By the time I left the profession, hardware was no longer a big factor in control systems. Software written using compilers for multiple processors had taken over. Hardware was generic, cookie stamped, with the vast increases in memory size and speed making programming efficiency irrelevant. So like Puff, I slipped into my cave. But that is a different story.

First there was electricity ...
"...Things I learned in a bobo jungle are things they never taught me in a classroom ..."
― NOT Merle Haggard