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Some Products Can Change the World

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David Ashton
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Think outside the box
David Ashton   2/16/2015 12:54:13 AM
Most of the above are in our own special area.  Even within that, how about the telephone?  A bit out of our speciality, the wristwatch?

If you get outside personal products...the steam engine, the infernal combustion engine.... the X-ray machine....running water....electricity.....

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USB flash drives
rzd   2/15/2015 9:55:00 PM
Remember floppies? Where would we be if Mr. Dov Moran had not invented the USB flash drive in 1999?  See US6148354 patent. The first model introduced had 8MBytes of flash memory and everyone said that it would be a flop (pun intended) because no one would need that much storage in their pocket.  How many GBytes of storage does the average EETimes reader have in his or her pocket today?

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Naysayers and perspective
Bert22306   1/22/2015 4:58:06 PM
I find that most of the time, naysayers (and often also the evangelist) simply lack perspective. It was the case with the PC, and it is now the case with IoT.

The naysayers limit their thinking on how a new invention would be used, and the overly-enthusiastic often fail to convince, for the same reason. They either denigrate, or hype up, use cases that few people believe they need.

If one views a "computer" as that big box that does the monthly payroll in a big corporation, or that analyzes reams of data in university physics labs, then of course the average joe won't see a need for such a device at home, cheap as it might be.

But Alan Turing hypothesized a general purpose problem solving machine, and that's the way computers should be viewed. So if this cheap computer is described as something that can, say, do your taxes with minimal input from you, without having to mail anything physically to anyone, or search out all retail outlets in the world for some specific object you might need, or organize and pay your bills, or allow you to manage your own savings and investments, or replace that card catalogue in your local library and give instant access, from home, to all manner of publications, then perhaps the naysaying wouldn't sound so convincing.

In the embryonic days of the single-chip computer, I knew evangelists who saw this as a great central device to manage the HVAC and lights in homes, for instance. BORING! And unnecessary too. My thinking was that PCs would get interesting for home use when they could communicate. And isn't it great that they did?

And not to mention all of the embedded computers, to replace the rube goldberg mechanical systems that used to automate functions in automobiles and appliances.

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Olsen was right
perl_geek   1/22/2015 12:34:23 PM
With the exception of a few strange people (like me) who want immediate access to a programmable data processing device, most people don't need a computer, per se, in their house.  His statement was certainly applicable to the computers of the time.

What they need and want in their homes are various devices for entertainment, communication, games, and other purposes, all of which are most conveniently implemented by something with one or more computers inside.  If the product is designed properly, the computers are invisible.

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Re: What T&M products changed the world?
antedeluvian   1/22/2015 9:52:47 AM

Any others?

The logic analyzer

I would argue the DMM as well.


Any T&M products that flopped?

The i-prober 520 doesn't seem to have got much traction

The logic probe seems to have died.

The signature analyzer (like the HP5004) also didn't seem to make much inroad.

I/we have all three- my reverse Midas touch again!

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What T&M products changed the world?
MeasurementBlues   1/21/2015 5:57:02 PM
I can think of a few.
  • The oscilloscope
  • The PC-plug-in digitizer card (who was first with it?)
  • LabVIEW
  • GPIB (even Tom Burke would have to agree)
  • Modular instruments (ISA, PCI, VXI, PXI)

Any others?

Any T&M products that flopped? Parts Search

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