This article was printed in CONTROL's September 2009 edition.
By Katherine Bonfante, Managing Editor, Digital Media
Humans have been unsuccessfully looking for the fountain of youth forever. Computers, on the other hand, seem to reinvent themselves and get smarter, and more versatile—as well as hipper, slimmer and cooler—every year.
The earliest "computers"—mechanical counting devices—date from around 35,000 BCE. These devices grew up to become the abacus. In the 1820s, Charles Babbage presented us with his "Difference Engine," the great granddaddy of the binary computer or calculator and, in the late 1930s, the first functioning electronic computer came on the scene. Yet, in spite of this venerable history, today computers look as sleek and as young as a teenager, and they perform calculations well past the capabilities of the most brilliant of their inventors.
At ControlGlobal.com you can track the latest steps in the evolution of that workhorse of the 20th- and 21st-century factory, the industrial computer and how it is affecting the work lives of automation professionals.
"Industrial PCs Take New Forms for New Jobs" explores the morphing boundaries defining industrial PCs. Industrial PCs now take on new, fanless, diskless forms and tasks once reserved for PLCs and other plant-floor devices. Log on and read more.
In "The New Breed of Industrial PCs," read how the capabilities of traditional industrial computers now fit in a small, powerful footprint with an equally small price.
Our Market Intelligence Report on Industrial PCs, PLCs and PACs walks you through the responses to our survey on these industrial devices. Watch this video and get the entire report.
The white paper, "The Evolution of PC Bus Technologies" provides an overview of Windows XP for embedded applications. This paper has information on boot options, communications and networking, memory management, protection, target system and development tools. Download this white paper to learn more.
I hope these online resources have helped you drive down memory lane. In your search for your own fountain of youth, I suggest that keeping up with technology will be vital. And, in the rapidly shifting world of process automation, we will have to adapt as much as our computers have to stay ahead of the game.