October 1957 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights 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," photoconductance
device developed by Sylvania. Commercial versions for TV sets were at least four
or five years away (more like three decades away). 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,
Getting the Picture
"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 (above), and having the ability
to store "tracks" and moving pips, the system is expected to prove useful in air
and harbor traffic control.
From August 1957
Electronic Technician magazine: "FLAT TV PICTURE panel to replace the crt
is a potential application of Sylvania's experimental "Sylvatron." These panels
employ two techniques for producing images. First is electroluminescence, whereby
light is produced by exciting a phosphor layer with an electric field. Second, photoconductance
is employed, whereby light intensity controls the passage of electric current through
a solid. The panels shown by the company were 2 by 4 inches, but they could be made
any size. More immediate applications may be expected in radar, information storage
systems and similar equipment. TV application is at least four to five years (and
several million research dollars) away."
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 (above) 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
Posted August 27, 2021
(updated from original post on 4/3/2014)