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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 13

I Colonial Origins

II First World War

III Between The World Wars

IV The Second World War

V Post-second World War
i The United Kingdom Australia Agreement
ii The ADSS
iii Decline of Imported Work
iv Background Research and Development of the Department of Supply
v Technology in the Armed Services

VI After The Joint Project

VII Science And Decisions At The Top

VIII Armed Services Technology

IX New Tasks And Projects

X Transfer Of Research And Development

XI Acknowledgement



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Data Processing and Computing (continued)

Data was coming from kine-theodolites, doppler radar, and telemetry records. Although bomb tests had used only 5 channels of telemetry, guided missiles had 24 channels running for up to a minute. A British establishment had found that six WAAFs, and two professional scientists could analyse one record in one week. (By 1953, the activities in one quarter of the year would list calculations for research vehicles, control test vehicles, separation test vehicles, flutter and drag tests, as well as radar, bombing and Jindivik trials.) Clearly something had to be done.

The problem resolved itself into two parts; the first was to provide adequate computing capability, and the second to provide the data in machine readable form. In 1953, John Allen Ovenstone laid out the principles of a system which would do this and convert the computer output to graphic form for human use. G. E. Barlow suggested a telemetry converter design which was developed by him with L. H. Cohen and F. F. Thonemann. The team knew from frequent liaison that they were ahead of the British in this field, but at a conference in New York in 1956 attended by Barlow and W. J. C. Watson, it became clear that they were also ahead of the Americans.

In 1949, R. W. McG. Boswell, and F. P. O'Grady, had stimulated interest in digital computers, and early (but unofficial) contact was made with T. Pearcey who, at CSIRO, was designing counting units with the idea of combining them in a computer with fewer valves than had been used in ENIAC. At the end of 1950, work began on the Long Range Weapons Establishment Electronic Digital Automatic Computer (LEDAC) based on Pearcey's designs. Adequate skills were generated, and Dr Ben Gates, then Controller R&D, invited WRE to forward a proposal for the construction of a computing machine. Under pressure to purchase from British industry, and in the face of defence budget cuts in Australia, the project was abandoned. A British computer was purchased initially, and was made to work under the name WREDAC. Later, the demand for more power needed for the Blue Streak trials led to the acquisition of a very expensive American computer. The order for this computer was placed just five days before the cancellation of the Blue Streak project. The Australian defence community expressed its chagrin at the timing, but in the long run, the presence of the new computer enhanced Australian capabilities considerably. Range safety had been an Australian responsibility throughout the Joint Project. Blue Streak, and its trial horse Black Knight, presented special problems. A need arose for a system to track them through the power phase and display to the safety officer the impact point in real time, with a means to cut the motors if the predicted impact point fell outside range boundaries. An adequate radar was obtained, and a command radio break-up system was developed. Information technology was needed to digitize the radar data, transmit this data, transmit other data from the early part of the flight when the radar could not see the missile, solve the ballistic equations, and display the information in manageable form to the safety officer.

This was achieved. I. C. Hinckfuss developed the first digital data transmission in Australia[35] (1200/2400 baud with error correction), K. Todd developed an analogue system, but a digital system was also required. No suitable commercial system could cope with the required prediction rate and the Australian machine, DIP, was constructed from 13000 germanium transistors and 8000 diodes.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Defence Scientific Service (A.D.S.S.); Long Range Weapons Establishment Electronic Digital Automatic Computer (LEDAC); Munitions Supply Laboratories (M.S.L.); Weapons Research Establishment (W.R.E.)

People in Bright Sparcs - Barlow, G. E.; Boswell, R. W. McG.; Cohen, L. H.; Gates, Dr Ben; Hinkfuss, I. C.; O'Grady, F. P.; Ovenstone, John Allen; Pearcey, T; Thonemann, F. F; Todd, K.; Watson, W. J. C.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 939 - 941, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher