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Computer history TNO-FEL:
Period 1974 - 1978

FUCAS, a simulated radar

In the middle of the seventies, the Physics Laboratory designed a phased array radar. During the construction of the hardware a number of programmers programmed rigidly in Fortran 4 (1966-standard with Control Data extensions) the radar control program. To validate the radar control software, a second simulation program was written by another team that simulated aeroplanes, clutter and rain clouds. Unfortunately the leader of that team was quite a pipe smoker, which was experienced by the "radar controllers" as very uncomfortable. After many hours with simulations on the Control Data 6400, about that more in the future, the first hardware parts of the FUCAS-radar were finished and delivered for testing. At this moment a so-called mini-computer had to be buyed for the real control of the radar beams and detection of the returned signals. Also a moment to improve the working conditions!
The "radar control" programming team reasoned that "computers are delicate pieces of equipment. In particular, the harddisks had to be placed in a dust-free and (thus) non-smoking environment". The requirement that the room of the radar control programming team had to be declared as a "smoke-free work room" was given to the facility management department of the Laboratory.

Eclipse system images courtesy by Data General Inc.

About three months later, the ordered Data General NOVA Eclipse-system arrived. The cooling fans of the system made such disturbing sounds, that the programming team moved the system as soon as possible (within two weeks) to a refurbished room designated as the radar control room.

However, many weeks later, during a "review" of the design of a couple of subroutines, the programming team was startled by a heavy banging on the door post. This noise was caused by the carpenter being busy to fasten an ashtray on the post. When questioned, he answered "as you cannot smoke inside the room, you have to get rid of your stub". After fixing the sign "not-allowed to smoke" the Physics Laboratory had the first non-smoking working room (all in all, the argument of no-smoking near a 300 baud-terminal was of course no more valid).


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