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

Chapter 8

I Part 1: Communications

II Epilogue

III Part 2: Early Australian Computers And Computing
i Instruments and calculators
ii The transition to the computer, 1945 to 1951
iii The first computers, 1951 to 1956
iv Concentration on large-scale systems, 1958 to 1963
v Software and microelectronics, after 1965
vi Industry, education and the computing fraternity

IV Acknowledgements



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Software and microelectronics, after 1965

Australia's last major contribution to hardware designs ended with the INTERGRAPHIC system built at the UNSW between 1964 and 1966 by G. A. Rose under M. W. Allen. The design team included P. D. Jones, T. Pearcey, R. B. Stanton and M. Macaulay, the last of whom was to establish Australia's first VDU design and manufacturing company. Information Electronics in Canberra. The INTERGRAPHIC was designed to overcome the high costs of special terminals for computer graphics work by using a single terminal with very high writing speed time-shared by a number of users. The graphics for each user were displayed in turn and were to be distributed, on conversion to TV raster form, to the user's TV terminal. A point writing speed of 100 nanosec was achieved, using microcoded sequences similar to, but faster than, that used in the Cirrus. This machine, used as a terminal to an IBM 360/50 host machine, was built with integrated microelectronic components then coming onto the market.

While this machine represents the last significant Australian design, the later wide use of integrated electronics has allowed the digital engineer to concentrate upon higher level aspects of system design instead of those at the detailed discrete component level. The large scale packaging of modern microelectronics has also allowed the practical training of many digital engineers at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in our teaching and research institutions. Nevertheless, while support for hardware design work virtually ceased, attention was turned generally to software development and a significant Australian software industry has been built up.

The newly-growing national concern with improving our technological capability has also resulted in CSIRO's support to establish local VLSI design expertise. Further, the Commonwealth Government has recently funded a Joint Microelectronics Research Centre at UNSW and RMIT under G. Rigby. It is now much more likely that Australia will be able to establish a digital industry based on the many opportunities that exist for the design of special purpose digital chips. The development of a range of special purpose VLSI devices will of course be closely associated with the converging computer/communications technology and rapidly increasing need for wide band communications for transfer of digital data between computers and information of voice and images in pulse coded form.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Information Electronics, Canberra; Joint Microelectronics Research Centre, Univ. Of N.S.W and R.M.I.T; Weapons Research Establishment (W.R.E.)

People in Bright Sparcs - Allen, M. W.; Jones, P. D.; Pearcey, T; Rigby, G.; Rose, G. A.; Stanton, R. B.

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© 1988 Print Edition page 624, Online Edition 2000
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