Saturday, August 20, 2016

Historical Geekiness

The first CNC machine, explained in detail. The tape system and discrete card computer makes this worth watching. Bonus security points for not being connected to an open network.


drjim said...

When I was but a wee sprout, my Dad worked for the exclusive distributorship for Bridgeport milling machines in the Chicago area.

He brought home a strip of punched tape one day, explaining to me how it was from a "Numerically Controlled" Bridgeport, and how someday all factories would be running "Numerically Controlled" machine tools because they always made the exact same part, they didn't take bathroom breaks, cigarette breaks, or call in sick!

The tape was made from a punched Mylar strip, and looked identical to the paper tape I had for my Ham Radio Model 19 teletype machine.

libertyman said...

Interesting drjim, how the American machine tool industry changed over the past 50 years. Companies that once had 18 month waits for delivery as did Bridgeport in the late 60s and early 70s, now no longer produce a machine in the US. A lot of the big time machine tool builders are gone, and an upstart named Haas is now the largest builder of machine tools in the US, starting from scratch just over 30 years ago.

Borepatch, look at the size of the control! Those controls would typically have household air conditioners in them to cool the electronics. Now a CNC control can be about the size of a lunchbox. The other huge difference is in the software to write the programs.

Amazing times.

drjim said...

Yeah, I remember the lead times on a new Bridgeport very well.

My Dad could have DOUBLED his salary for several years *IF* his company had been able to get machines.

Used Bridgeports in excellent shape were going for more than a brand-new one, and "rebuildable" machines were going for almost the cost of a new one, NOT including the parts and labor to rebuild them.

One of his "steady" customers was Argonne National Laboratory. They were machining certain "metals" that caused the machines to be "unable to be used any longer", and they had to be "scrapped and buried in an undisclosed location".

Gee....wonder what they were making?

When I went to Northern Illinois University I got a kick out of seeing the nameplate from my Dad's company on the Bridgeport in the lab, as well as all the Bridgeports in the machine shop at Fermilab where I worked for around 5 years.