October 1957 Popular Electronics[Table of Contents]People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history of early electronics. Popular Electronics was published from October 1954 through April 1985. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
Ribbon cable has been around and familiar to most of us for as long as we can remember. The advent of personal computers in the 1980s brought ribbon cable into the homes of millions of people in the form of the interface to disk drives. In 1957, however, when this news story appeared in Popular Electronics, ribbon cable, known initially as "tape cable." was just being introduced to industry. There was also a story on what might have been the first flat panel display screen, the "Sylvatron," developed by Sylvania. Finally, we have a report on bouncing radio signals off the moon for calibrating newly commissioned satellite tracking stations, which, at the time the story was written, was waiting for the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, to launch.
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"Sylvatron," a system of producing images on flat panels, is a development of Sylvania. It combines the principles of electroluminescence and photoconductance in glass panels with control layers excited by electrical or optical signals and a power source. Able to reproduce moving pictures (right), and having the ability to store "tracks" and moving pips, the system is expected to prove useful in air and harbor traffic control.
A minor revolution in electronics design seems in the making with the introduction of "Tape Cable," a new concept in current carriers. Developed by Tape Cable Corp., Rochester, N. Y., it is a ribbon-like, flexible film in which are imbedded flat, copper conductors lying side by side. It comes packaged in roils of varying widths, and can be dispensed like tape. The flat construction allows simultaneous stripping of all conductors (left). Major labor savings are seen since all conductors can be dip-soldered simultaneously to a printed chassis or plug (left, with Elco connectors). The polyester insulation is resistant to many chemicals and to boiling and freezing. Flex strength is unusually high. The price is about the same as that of ordinary cable but is expected to go down.
The Signal Corps' Diana moon radar antenna (right) is being used to bounce signals off the moon in order to calibrate equipment in the Minitrack stations which are being prepared to track the earth satellite. Echoes are picked up at a Maryland station.
Posted April 3, 2014