How do you make an Engineer downright giddy? Pictures of nekked women? No, that's over-the-top. Women are mysterious, beyond description of logic, mathematics, and science, and not something we can improve. Problems must be solvable to be accepted.
Give us tools. Show us cool tools-of-the-trade and we can be happy for hours, disappearing into our own little world, working deep into the night, hiding from the wife, non-believers, those who just don't understand. We admire the sophistication of function, the elegance of design, and the beauty of precision.
An assortment of Tools of the Trade
Nothing is ever "over-engineered". The pyramids did their job. Weathering of the surface stones was by design and within spec. Will it sell? I don't care. Does it work? Damned right it works -- let me show you this neat operation.
Here, we present a few of the tools of the trade, before CAD, before computers made it so "a child of 5" could do it, alas, computers of our own making. A museum of sorts, a walk down memory lane, a peek into the past at the instruments that our fathers and their fathers used to build this world, to get us to where we are today. A mere word or two can conjure up visions of the past, but what better than images of that past to bring color to our dreams. Sometimes it's just the books where it all started.
53rd CRC Manual
Western Electric "Green Book"
Texas Instruments' TTL Data Book
Keuffel & Esser Catalog
LEROY Lettering Template
The slide rule. Logarithms incarnate. High-level calculations performed in a whoosh due to the mathematical elegance of logarithms. The circular slide rule wraps the log scale around the center of a circle. Here is a circular slide rule that provides five digits of precision in a 10" diameter instrument. After determinining a three-digit approximation on the outer scale, the five-digit precise answer can be found on the extended scale spiralling from the center. Some say that three digits of precision is adequate for 99% of work, but when two more digits are so readily available, a proud engineer makes use of all his resources.
5-Digit Circular Slide Rule
When was the last you saw a K+E Catalog (Keuffel and Esser)? Click through a few pages, below. Want to order? Sorry. Don't know where to point you. The museum is only here for browsing. Maybe you'll find something in the drawers of your dad's old desk. I'll bet there's some HB lead in there.
Heathkit Electronic Workshop
HeathKit made all sorts of build-it-yourself kits for budding tinkerers, all coming with some nice instructions and reasonable descriptions. You might not learn what made all the pieces work but if you built it right it worked pretty well. This was my first foray into electronics with this funny thing called a transistor included on this kit of kits. You could make many things from this forerunner of the breadboard by connecting wires between the right little springs at the end of each component. Of course I fashioned the handy cardboard box it was stored in, and you'll note not only the original instructions (dated 1966) but also my trusty Morse Code reference.
pages from the Heathkit manual
(click to enlarge)
More to ponder: Mechanical drawing Slide rules Calculators Word Processors (hardware, Wang) Zeiss Dow Chemical IBM AT&T Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) BUNCH (Burroughs, UNIVAC, NCR, Control Data Corp, Honeywell) Apollo 11, Apollo 13 Tacoma Narrows Bridge X-15 SR-71 Osborne Holography