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MECA Electronics

Electronics Newsletter - Bell Labs, Space Needles, & Car Entertainment Systems
April 6, 1964 Electronics Magazine Article

April 6, 1964 Electronics

April 6, 1964 Electronics Cover - RF Cafe[Table of Contents]

Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles from Electronics, published 1930 - 1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades (GATT) has been around for a really long time - since 1947, shortly after the end of World War II. It changed its name to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. Japan was admitted as a GATT signatory in 1964 according to this Electronics magazine newsletter. One of the conditions for membership was allowing foreign ownership of businesses on Japanese soil - previously prohibited. Texas Instruments was the first American company to establish a presence there. Japanese industry was just getting a foothold on manufacturing and selling into foreign markets in the mid 1960s, and was still working to shed its reputation - deserved or not - of producing inferior quality goods. Increasing foreign presence and dependence on the country's economic well-being was a good thing for them. In fact, many pundits believe that the globalization of production is key to preserving peace (or at least not war) between certain countries. The philosophy is unofficially referred to as Mutually Assured Economic Destruction (MAED), akin to MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) that came about during the nuclear arms race that sought to create enough of a critical interdependence between countries to thwart armed conflict.

In other news, Bell Telephone Labs was getting set to build a huge new research facility outside of Chicago Project West Ford was vindicated of predictions that its scattering of 400 million tiny copper "needles" into Earth orbit would disrupt astronomical and other space-directed research, and Ford began experimenting with in-car entertainment systems.

See also Japan: An Industrious Competitor, Japan Stresses Research, Japanese Technology - When You're Second, You Try Harder, and Japanese Technology - The New Push for Technical Leadership (includes a "Back to the Future film clip").

GATT, Bell Labs, Space Needles for Communications, & Car Entertainment Systems

Japan Opens Door to Foreign Plants

On April 1, Japan became a full member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades, a world trade organization that grants its members certain tariff concessions. To remain in the organization Japan will have to alter its ban on foreign-owned facilities.

Very soon, the Japanese government will announce that United States and European manufacturers may build and own plants in Japan.

First in line is Texas Instruments Inc. Other manufacturers are rooting for that company's application, already filed, to be approved. Japanese officials have already offered Texas Instruments a chance to own 50% of an operation. Previously they had insisted on no more than 25% foreign ownership - the American company insists on 100% ownership.

U. S. component and semiconductor makers are anxious to compete in the lush Japanese consumer and industrial markets. Such a move could hurt the slowly growing electronics industry recently established in Hong Kong, even though Hong Kong labor rates are down to 86 cents a day.

Minuteman First in Specs, Too

The Air Force's first set of specifications for integrated circuits are based on the circuits in the guidance and control system for the improved Minuteman missile.

The move sounds like a boost for companies selling such circuits to the Autonetics division of North American Aviation, Inc. It was Autonetics that designed the circuits and drafted the specifications for the Air Force [Electronics, March 23, 1964, p. 26]. But Autonetics says it isn't necessarily so.

The company points out that other concerns will have a chance to comment on the specs and ask for changes. Also, it predicts that nailing down the specs will result in a longer list of qualified manufacturers. This is what happened with the specs for high-reliability parts for the original Minuteman, the company notes.

The Air Force adds that it is standardizing a spec system rather than specific circuits. The new specs, numbered Mil-M-38104/901 through 924, come under the Air Force's standard reliability spec Mil-M-38100.

The specs are supervised by the Air Force Ballistic Systems division at Norden Air Force Base, California. In July, qualifying action will be shifted to the Air Force's Air Development Center at Rome, N.Y.

In another stride for microcircuitry, Autonetics is testing two airborne radars built with 20 standard microcircuits. One radar, the 100-pound R45, is a multimode set. The other, the 30-pound R47, is a terrain-avoidance type for low-flying missiles and planes.

Bell Telephone Switching Lab

The research-hungry Chicago area will, in two or three years, get a big new laboratory with 1,200 people, 400 of them scientists and engineers. Bell Telephone Laboratories, the home of the transistor, will build an electronic switching research and development lab in Naperville, just west of Chicago. About two thirds of the staff will be transferees from Bell's present switching lab in Holmdel, N. J. The new lab, officials explained, will be near the Western Electric Company's Hawthorne Works in Cicero, which is Slated to become the Bell System s number one manufacturing facility for electronic switching equipment. The Bell System plans to convert all its central telephone offices from electro-mechanical to electronic switching. The target date for completion of this enormous task is the year 2,000. The Bell System has been installing electronic telephone exchanges on a test basis since 1960. The first commercial electronic central office will go into operation in Succasunna, N. J., early in 1965.

Motorola Refrains from Navy Bidding

The Navy has been collecting bids for a new combination system - comprising communications, telemetry, tracking and command - for three range instrumentation ships and the Apollo spacecraft program. Bidders include the Lockheed Aircraft Corp., Martin-Marietta Corp. and Radio Corp. of America. But the Motorola Corp, which was thought to have the inside track, isn't bidding. The reason seems to be Motorola's confidence that it will get the contract for the unified S-band system, even as a subcontractor. The company believes it has the only one available - it is already making such a system for NASA ground stations. The unified S-band system will be the only custom-designed item in the contract. Most of the other equipment will be off-the-shelf.

Another bit of Motorola intelligence - picked from the grapevine of last month's IEEE show - was that corporate headquarters would be moved from Chicago to Arizona. Not so, company spokesmen insist. "We just couldn't afford to decentralize to that extent," they explain. The inspiration for the rumor, one official suggested, could have been someone's wishful overreaction to a long, hard winter.

Space Needles Found Not Guilty

Project West Ford, the controversial orbital scatter communications belt, has received a clean bill of scientific health from the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences. The belt, consisting of 400 million tiny copper-wire dipoles in a 2,000-mile-high polar orbit, was created last year to serve as a reflector for radio signals in long-distance communications experiments. The project drew protests from optical and radio astronomers, who said the needles would interfere with their observations. But now Prof. H. H. Hess, of Princeton University, who headed the science academy's study group, says West Ford did not hinder other scientific observations. This supports earlier reports by backers of the West Ford project, who have complained that political constraints - resulting from scientists' protest - were hampering the project [Electronics, Nov. 8, 1963, p. 26].

Rolling Playroom in Ford's Future

The Ford Motor Co. has come out with a prototype for a car that's half rumpus room. A communications console controls a television set, three a-m/f-m radios and a recorder that feeds music, movies or business correspondence into the system. A power-operated glass screen protects the driver from noises from the rear "lounge," where one of the radios is likely to be turned to a children's program. There's also a thermo-electric oven-refrigerator for snacks, and an unexplained "kiddie-quiet ion dispenser," based perhaps on the theory that negative ions in the air are soothing to frazzled nerves.

 

 

Posted March 5, 2019

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