April 1963 Radio-Electronics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Electronics,
published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
The April 1963 edition of
Radio−Electronics magazine had many notable items in its monthly News Briefs feature.
Radio communications was rapidly replacing wired communications was a primary means
of transferring information from point to point. A mere two decades earlier, troops
on the battlefield were unrolling spools of wire over the ground sometimes for miles
to facilitate phone systems at strategic locations. By the time this News Briefs
appeared, international and intercontinental communications radio was the realm
primarily of military, government, and amateur radio operators. A lack of understanding
of the upper atmosphere's physical properties, with their constantly varying parameters
based on solar activity, prevented a commitment to long distance wireless. The
Year (IGY) effort in the late 1950's saw great leaps of knowledge which were
being exploited at a rapid rate in order to reduce reliance on extreme undersea
and overground communications cable. An explosive demand for TV programming was
a big driver. Another item of note is the growing use of x−rays for routine component
inspection and failure analysis. Reported here is the use of a potassium dihydrogen
phosphate (KDP) crystal (sounds like a power source for the Starship Enterprise*)
laser used to transfer television programs.
New Briefs: 11/1957
| 8/1958 |
Telstar Reports on Van Allen Belts
Increase in electron activity in the Van Allen belts is shown
by the dotted area. (Only the regions actually traversed by Telstar are shaded.)
The heavier shading indicates greater electron intensity inside the belts, and the
crosshatched region is the area that had an electron flux of 800 million per square
centimeter per second in July.
Storm vortex is shown in this TV picture taken by TIROS V on
Dec. 5, 1962. A dangerous formation is shown, with an unusual swirling mass of clouds.
A "slot-cutting mechanism" between the inner and outer Van Allen belts works
to decrease the number of electrons in the area more rapidly than ordinary decay
would account for. This was told to the American Physical Society by Walter L. Brown
of the Bell Laboratories Semiconductor Research Dept. He said that immediately after
the Russian high-altitude nuclear tests of Oct. 22 and 28, the gap or slot between
the two Van Allen belts was nearly filled up with energetic electrons, the increase
of electrons in the gap being greater than that in the belts themselves.
Before the tests, there were about 3 million electrons per centimeter per second
on the magnetic field line crossing the equator at 4,500 miles altitude. After the
second explosion, the number had increased to some 500 million electrons. When Telstar
first went into orbit in July, shortly after the Starfish test, the flux of electrons
at the peak of the Van Allen belt was even higher - about 800 million electrons
per square centimeter per second. From that time to October, electron intensity
in the slot between the two belts showed a decay rate to the date of the Russian
The nature of the mechanism that appears to be at work, cutting the slot between
the two Van Allen belts, is still unknown-in fact, scientists do not know why there
are two belts instead of a single broad one.
TIROS Makes TV Pictures of Earth's Cloud Cover
TIROS - Television Infra-Red Observation Satellite - transmitted more than 203,000
TV pictures of the earth's cloud cover through the end of 1962, NASA discloses.
The TIROS meteorological system was developed, tested and produced by RCA for NASA
under the direction of Goddard Space Flight Center. Since April 1960, six TIROS
satellites have been successfully launched and orbited in six tries. They have logged
1,157 days of useful life, reporting on ice floes, giving advance warning of hurricanes
and other weather. phenomena, and supplying data for intra governmental use. Some
have been used in launch support of deep-space probes like Mariner and Ranger. TIROS
V and VI, still operating, are supplying operational weather data and serving as
vehicles for further research.
The record shows, say RCA engineers, that TV space observations are feasible
and that longevity in space is possible. NASA cites TIROS as an example of the use
of space for peaceful purposes.
New Device Combines Tube and Transistor Features
RCA has announced the development of a "revolutionary solid-state element, combining
the best properties of transistors and vacuum tubes." Called a metal oxide semiconductor
transistor, it is described as an "insulated-gate, field-effect transistor, made
of silicon and capable of amplifying electric voltages," by Dr. William M. Webster,
director of RCA Laboratories electronic research program. "By varying the input
voltage on the insulated gate," said Dr. Webster, "the device as a whole can be
made to switch, amplify or otherwise regulate its output of electric current in
a manner analogous to a pentode vacuum tube." In conventional transistors, he explained,
similar results are achieved by varying the input current. While voltage-control
led transistors are not new in principle, Dr. Webster explained, their great promise
has gone largely unrealized because of high production costs, technological difficulties,
and the early popularity of current-controlled transistors.
The new device will be especially applicable to integrated circuitry. (Arrays
of up to 850 of them have been produced in an area the size of a dime.) Integrated
circuitry with these components may make portable, battery-operated, high-speed
computers possible, as well as a host of applications in communications systems,
military and industrial equipment of small size, operating over wide temperature
ranges, with great resistance to nuclear radiation.
New - The X-Ray Vidicon
A vidicon camera tube that can be used to detect flaws inside Va 1/8-inch-thick
metal casings is now being sold by the Machlett Laboratories, Inc., an affiliate
of Raytheon. How it can be used to check electronic parts is shown in the photos.
The open circuit in the diode appears very clearly. The new tube is also extremely
useful in medical studies, as well as in some nondestructive testing applications.
The new tube, labeled ML-589, uses an X-ray-sensitive layer as its sensor element,
instead of the light-sensitive, photoconductive layer of ordinary vidicons. Interchangeable
with standard vidicons, it is 1 inch in diameter and 6 inches long. It requires
an adequate source of X-ray "light". The detailed resolution is comparable to that
of fine-grade, high-contrast radiographic film, making the tube suitable for high-resolution
applications and magnification up to 50X.
MPATI Asks More Channels
The Midwest Program for Airborne Television Instruction has asked for six permanent
uhf channels, proposing to transform the project from its present experimental basis
to a regular operation broadcasting 180 hours per week. The program has been operating
for a year and a half, with two separate programs - on channels 72 and 76 - transmitted
simultaneously from a plane flying over Montpelier, Ind., and sending lessons received
in six states, over an area holding more than 7 million students. The proposed six-channel
system will make more efficient coverage possible and lower the cost per student
The new Westinghouse superconducting MHD generator.
First TV Transmission Over Laser Beam
The first transmission of television on a microwave-modulated laser beam was
demonstrated Feb. 20 at the General Telephone & Electronics Laboratories, Bayside,
Two new developments made the breakthrough possible. The first: an electro-optic
modulator, a metallic cylinder not more than about 2 inches in diameter and 2 inches
long, with holes in the ends and a small potassium dihydrogen phosphate (KDP) crystal
at its center. The second is a microwave photodetector developed by the Microwave
Devices Div. of Sylvania.
In the demonstration, the video signal from an ordinary TV receiver was fed to
a traveling-wave tube that was being driven at the same time at 3,000 megacycles
by a klystron oscillator. The TV-modulated 3,000-mc signal was amplified and applied
through a waveguide to the modulator, which is a resonant cavity at 3,000 mc. The
beam from a gas laser passed through the holes in the ends of the cavity and through
the crystal at its center, emerging from the cavity as an intensity-modulated optical
carrier containing the microwave signal and the television information that was
impressed on it.
The laser beam was then directed onto the photo detector, a special type of traveling-wave
guide with a photo-sensitive cathode. The laser light striking the cathode produced
an electron beam containing the microwave sub carrier and the video information.
The tube's output was further amplified and fed to a video detector, thence to a
TV monitor for display.
It was pointed out by Dr. Lee L. Davenport, president of GT & E, that the
system was probably several years from practical application, but that the ultimate
possibilities were fantastic. More than 160 TV channels or 100,000 telephone channels
could be carried on a single laser beam, he said, as compared with 10 TV channels
or 6,000 simultaneous telephone conversations possible with the best microwave systems
English Slant on Educational TV
Charley Bayley, 80, of Black-pool, England, credits television with helping him
get an education. "I got so sick of the programs," he said, "that one night I shut
the thing down and signed up at a night school." That happened 5 years ago, and
now he has certificates of proficiency in English, French, mathematics and Latin.
* Dilithium crystals are a fictional power source that are commonly featured
in the Star Trek franchise. They are depicted as a rare, naturally occurring mineral
that is capable of regulating the matter-antimatter reactions that power the engines
of Starfleet vessels. In the Star Trek universe, dilithium crystals are essential
to interstellar travel, as they allow ships to safely navigate at faster-than-light
speeds without catastrophic power failure. While dilithium crystals are purely fictional,
they are a notable example of the many futuristic technologies imagined by the creators
of Star Trek. The concept of dilithium crystals has become a cultural touchstone,
and the phrase "dilithium crystals" is often used in popular culture to represent
a powerful and valuable resource. - ChapGPT
Posted March 6, 2023