BitSavers Posts CDC ICEM Documentation

BitSavers has just posted scans of Control Data Corporation‘s Integrated Computer-Aided
Engineering and Manufacturing (ICEM) Engineering Data Library (EDL) as used on the Control Data Network Operating System (NOS). ICEM was a minor player in the overall CAD market, but ICEM Surface gained a prominent position in car body design. You can browse the documents on BitSavers.

For an overall history of the CAD industry, I recommend David Weisberg’s online free book The Engineering Design Revolution.

Xerox Alto Restoration

Over on YouTube, CuriousMarc has been chronicling the restoration of a Xerox Alto workstation. Marc has the advantage of living in silicon valley, so he gets to have drop-in visits from the creators of ethernet to help with the networking debugging and assistance from the folks who created the Alto. Check out his Xerox Alto restoration playlist on YouTube for a series of very interesting videos!

Xerox Alto Source Code Released

Over at the Computer History Museum, they’ve managed to get the Xerox Alto source code released. The Xerox Alto was a huge step forward in bringing computer graphics into the service of the ordinary user with its desktop metaphor for interacting with computer resources. Getting the source code for the system and making it publicly available is giving you the ability to travel back in time and see state-of-the-art systems from the inside.

Browse the source code.

“The Engineering Design Revolution” by David E. Weisberg

I just stumbled across this free book today, “The Engineering Design Revolution: The People, Companies and Computer Systems That Changed Forever the Practice of Engineering”, by David E. Weisberg. It looks interesting and I will be reading it shortly. While I’ve always been interested in computer graphics, I wasn’t working in the field when computer graphics was being established as a distinct engineering area in the 1970s and 1980s.

Nice Direct View Storage Tube Demonstration

Over at davebr’s “My Tektronix Memories” page, he has a really great video of the Tektronix 4010 terminal demonstrating various features of the DISSPLA graphics software. This is a video taken of the screen of the terminal as it renders the demonstration file at 2400 baud. This gives you a very good representation of what using these terminals was like. You watched a bright spot move across the screen as it stroked the graphics onto the storage tube. If you look carefully, you can see the alphanumeric cursor blinking in the lower left side of the screen as the file transmits a bunch of NUL characters to the terminal in order to implement a delay in the presentation. The bright full-screen flash is the mechanism used to erase the screen before drawing the next picture.