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April 1, 2005

Do you remember?

The MR-1 professional cassette deck from Nakamichi offered front and rear balanced inputs, unbalanced inputs, balanced and unbalanced outputs, linear-scale peak-reading meters and independent tape and EQ selection. The unit featured an asymmetrical dual-capstan direct-drive transport with less than 0.027 percent flutter, as well as an exclusive pressure-pad lifter that eliminated scrape flutter and modulation noise. A motor-driven cam operating system ensured gentle tape handling and automatic slack take-up. This was a discrete three-head recording system for 20Hz to 20kHz ±3dB response advertised in 1985.

That was then

Digital Equipment Corporation unveiled the PDP-8 in 1965. This 12-bit machine was the first commercially successful minicomputer. Small enough to sit on a desktop, it sold for $18,000 — one-fifth the cost of a low-end IBM/360 mainframe. The machine used a core memory system that operated at cycle time of 1.5 microseconds. Early PDP-8 models used a front-panel interface, a paper-tape reader and a teletype printer with an optional paper-tape punch. Over time I/O systems such as magnetic tape, RS-232 and current loop dumb terminals, punched card readers and fixed-head disks were added. With its combination of speed, size and cost the minicomputer was incorporated in thousands of manufacturing plants, offices and scientific laboratories.


Sample and hold

Most people relied on radio during the hurricanes in 2004. Listeners repeatedly commented that radio was dependable, used fewer batteries and had better signals than TV, and it was portable. Source: Arbitron Listener Perceptual Study, Hurricane Markets, December 2004. Numbers may add up to more than 100 due to rounding.

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