FUCAS, a simulated radar
In the mid-seventies, the Physics Laboratory designed and built a phased array radar called FUCAS (Follow-up CAISSA System). During the construction of the hardware, a number of programmers worked hard to program the radar control program in Fortran 4 (1966-standard with Control Data extensions). To validate the radar control software, a second simulation program was written by another team which simulated the aeroplanes to be tracked, clutter and rain clouds. Unfortunately, the leader of that team smoked a solid pipe, which the non-smoking ‘radar drivers’ experienced as very annoying.
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. The time was there to purchase a Data General Eclipse minicomputer for the actual control of the radar (passive listening, tracking and searching) hardware. The perfect time to also do something about our health and safety conditions, even though that was not top of mind at the time. The reasoning ‘computers are delicate, especially disks must be in a smoke-free environment’, was accepted by the technical support department. The room of the radar control team would be declared a ‘smoke-free workspace’.
The ordered Data General NOVA Eclipse-system was delivered and installed about three months later in early 1976. The cooling fans made so much noise that the system was moved to the FUCAS radar room within two weeks. Many weeks later, during the review of a code part, the control team was startled by hammering on the doorpost. The in-house carpenter was attaching an ashtray to the door frame under the motto “if you are not allowed to smoke inside, you have to get rid of your cigarette.” After placing a non-smoking sign, the laboratory had its first smoke-free room (although the argument of a smoking ban for a 300 baud terminal was of course no longer valid). Since August 2018, one spot on the premises is designated for smoking; smoking at all other places is forbidden.