XH558 - was Re: using new technology etc

Paul Koning paulkoning at comcast.net
Fri Jan 2 00:52:03 CST 1970

> On Jun 19, 2015, at 8:31 PM, Dennis Boone <drb at msu.edu> wrote:
>> Bringing this topic full circle, does anyone know if any minicomputers
>> (DEC PDP-8s or 11s, DG Novæ, HP 21XXs, et cetera) were ever used on
>> aircraft? Not transported by one, but I mean setup and used on one.
> A friend of mine worked for DoE in Nevada.  They used to fly minis on
> helicopters (detectors of some sort).  I think he said they were Novas.

Speaking of weird military applications of small computers, I still have a paper from the early 1980s about using Ethernet and a small PDP-11 to measure nuclear warhead yield.

The scheme goes like this: run the Ethernet coax cable down the hole at the bottom of which sits the warhead being tested. The PDP-11 is at the top of the hole.  At T=0, start sending back to back Ethernet frames.  Record the TDR value associated with the transmit error for each failed transmit, and send that to the data collection site which is some miles away.

The changing TDR value will tell you how fast the Ethernet cable is evaporating.

I’m fairly sure this was real, not a made up story.  I should dig up the paper, it’s just one page long.


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