This month marks Control's 30th anniversary, so I dusted off one of the three known remaining copies of our first issue. Dated October 1988, it debuted just in time for that year’s ISA show and at 284 pages, was the largest we ever printed. We got everybody who was anybody to write and/or advertise, resulting in a virtual reference book on that moment in process control history.
ARC Advisory Group, the source of our annual Top 50 rankings, said the U.S. market for process control equipment, service, maintenance and software was expected to be $7.1 billion, and to rise to $9.3 billion in 1992. In 2017, U.S. revenues of the Top 50 companies alone total close to $31 billion, or about $15 billion in 1988 dollars.
Many companies bought space to tell their stories. A "Honeywell News" four-page advertorial devoted a page to "The SP 50 War," so if you thought Control was first to frame the fieldbus conflict so sensationally, think again.
Artificial intelligence (AI) was already a hot topic. At that year’s AIChE conference in Denver, speakers offered demonstrations of the AI systems in use at their companies. "A major difficulty with present-day databases is the cryptic and often cumbersome language used to manipulate a given database management system," said Irwin Osborne-Lee of Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Fisher Controls bound in a beautiful accordion-folded pamphlet inviting readers to "Control your direction with…The Power of PROVOXplus." FCI thermal dispersion flowmeters are "field-proven, maintenance-free and cost-saving."
Acknowledging that control system design and programming cost twice as much as the hardware, Texas Instruments advertised an Applications Productivity Tool (APT) for its TISTAR Control and Management System that it said would reduce those costs as much as 70%.
Honeywell's TDC 3000 DCS added Process Manager and Universal Control Network, "the first redundant MAP-based process control network. Its open system promise is your upgrade path to the developing open standards of the future."
Iconics offered Genesis, "the first CAD process control software for IBM PCs." IDT advertised its AMI, FactoryMate, PanelMate and 2200 Series industrial workstations. Levelite's ad featured a toilet flush handle and said, "Mechanical floats still have their place, but should they be trusted to control critical fluid levels?"
The Foxboro Company’s Simon Korwitz wrote the article, "'Insuring' process control through fault-tolerant systems," using quote marks to ensure you noticed a pun that only an insurance agent could appreciate.
Combustion Engineering's Taylor Wedge flowmeters promised to measure all fluids accurately, thanks to a flow element design that creates a differential pressure with "a true relationship to flow rate at low Reynolds numbers."
Michael Lloyd at Telemecanique told us how "Sequential function charts simplify PLC programming," and Fischer & Porter showed off Liberator single-loop, four-loop and Chameleon Mark II calculating controllers with built-in communications capabilities for the IBM-PC at no additional cost.
Owen Heng at Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., a Dow Corning subsidiary, wrote "The role of instrumentation in process safety" about how design and implementation rules can be applied to safety monitoring systems.
Badger Meter's new electronic valve actuator offered "a better way to control" with 0.001-in. resolution, smart zero and span, and field programmability with a hand-held communicator "without opening the housing."
Jose Hernandez Jr. of Bechtel closed the issue with a guest editorial, saying. "Ultimately, the success of a control engineering project is judged as much by what was saved as by what was spent. Each dollar, each hour conserved through thoughtful planning and creative thinking is freed for other justifiable expenditures."
Some things haven’t changed a bit.