Students in Class

To mark the first week of classes, here are some students being quite attentive in class.

Male students in class taking notes, ca. 1956

Male students in class taking notes, ca. 1956

Students in class in Sewall Hall, 1970s

Students in class in Sewall Hall, 1970s

Ann Farmer in class, 1957

Ann Farmer in class, 1957

Shepherd School classroom, 1975

Shepherd School classroom, 1975

Memorabilia Monday: Rice Institute Embosser

Rice Institute embosser

Used to emboss Rice-related business papers, this device got a lot of use. The black paint that covered most of it has been worn away. It also looks like there was a decorative design on the base below the handle.

Close-up of mechanism

The maker information is quite hard to decipher.

Where it was sold?

Where it was sold?

decorative design

faded decorative design

patent stamp

patent stamp

The best part is the patent notification on the underside.

the finished product

the finished product

Spa Day

As summer winds down, a last minute spa vacation sounds like a nice treat. From the Autry Family papers we catch a glimpse of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan.

battle_creek

Under the direction of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, it was the most famous health institution in the country, and encouraged the health food industry. Battle Creek was a popular destination for prominent and middle-class Americans in the early 20th century. James L. Autry, II and his wife, Allie May Autry visited in 1913 and again in 1916. From the Battle Creek Sanitarium Prescription booklet: “The Battle Creek Sanitarium method is a system of training which aims to restore health by removing the causes of disease and aiding the body to remove the effects of disease by establishing natural conditions.” The booklet outlined a daily program of massage, hydriatic applications (hydrotherapy), exercise, lectures, and diet prescriptions tailored to each guest.

daily_program

The daily menus are really interesting, encouraging a low-fat, low-protein diet with an emphasis on whole grains and fiber-rich foods.

menu

Selections from Rare Books: The Gyroscope

The Gyroscope by V.E. Johnson

The Gyroscope by V.E. Johnson

The Woodson’s Rare Books collection features the Benjamin Monroe Anderson Collection on the History of Aeronautics. In this fascinating collection of books and manuals, one may find The Gyroscope by V.E. Johnson, No. 22 of the S. and C. Series of Elementary Manuals for Mechanics and Students. It’s a neat little gem, describing the mechanics of gyroscopes, their applications, and numerous simple and complex experiments. It even provides instructions for building an electric gyroscope and a model monorail. Could make for some fun weekend projects.

 

 

The Gyroscope by V.E. Johnson

 

Memorabilia Monday: Dirk West’s Owl

Dirk West Owl

Both items found at Baker College.

Texas illustrator, Dirk West is most famous for his Southwest Conference mascot caricatures. His fighting owl is a bit more anthropomorphized than some other Rice owls, but it does leave an impression. Someone loved West’s owl so much they made a ashtray.

For those itching for football season, the Owls just had their first scrimmage with some great photographs documenting the event.

What to Bring to Campus

This week new students all over the U.S. and beyond are making tough decisions about what they must have in their college/dorm room. Thankfully, Rice students have handy lists in their O-Week books. Here’s one from Sid Richardson’s 2015 book:

From Coast to Coast We GO-Week, p. 9

From Coast to Coast We GO-Week, p. 9

This is not a new tradition. The incoming Jones College women circa 1958 also had a list in their handbook, but it was far shorter.

Handbook, ca. 1958

Memorabilia Monday: Academic Advising Stamp

Baker College Humanities stamp

From the Baker College records via retired College Coordinator Venora Frazier comes a few stamps. As far as I can tell, the College Coordinator or other O-Week college personnel used these to label new student papers prior to faculty advising. This still occurs, but sadly it’s a stamp-less process.

Stamp detail

O-Week starts in six days, so expect a lot of O-Week themed posts this week and the next.

Tech Thursday: HP Data Cartridges

IMG_9672

The Woodson recently received a collection of old technical manuals and documentation. Among the materials are several boxes marked with Hewlett Packard logos, inside of which one can find several magnetic tape cartridges and their user manuals, still secure in their original plastic wrapping. The shipping labels on the boxes are all addressed to Dr. J.D. Wise at the Abercrombie Lab, Electrical and Computer Engineering. There are no dates on the labels, but the printing dates on the manuals indicate that these materials came to Rice in late 1987. It seems the lab was outfitted with HP 9000 Series 300 workstations, and the cartridges carried software updates.

This one is an update for FORTRAN, a programming language suited for “numeric computation and scientific computing.”

FORTRAN update

FORTRAN update

These two were updates for the Programming Environment (PE) and the Application Execution Environment (AXE) for the HP-UX operating system.

Programming Environment update

Programming Environment update

Application Execution Environment update

Application Execution Environment update

I can’t quite tell the specific format of the cartridges, but they are definitely Quarter-inch cartridges (QIC), and I think they are SLR, Tandberg Data’s brand of QIC (According to Wikipedia, Tandberg is the only company that still manufactures QIC drives).

The cartridges are accompanied with about 10 binders-worth of documentation, and it’s a little strange to see it all in such pristine condition.

Documentation

Documentation

I noticed when I was researching for this post that there are services which can convert the formats like SLR to DVD or digital formats. I haven’t had a chance to look, but I wonder if the programs on these cartridges might be worth converting for preservation.


Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortran

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarter-inch_cartridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scalable_Linear_Recording

Tech Thursday: NorthStar Horizon

NorthStar Horizon

NorthStar Horizon

This past February, Curt Michel, the Andrew Hays Buchanan Professor Emeritus of Space Physics and Astronomy at Rice University and former NASA astronaut, passed away. Michel taught at Rice for 37 years before retiring in 2000, but kept an office on campus to continue his research on “solar winds, radio pulsars and numerical methods.” I was never fortunate enough to meet him, but reading through the articles and obituaries, I can begin to grasp both the breadth of his academic achievement and the depth of the loss felt by the Rice community.

Curt Michel, 1965

Michel donated his academic papers to the Woodson Research Center in 2009. Included among them was an NorthStar Horizon. Released by NorthStar Computers in 1977 and recognizable for their unusual plywood housing, Horizons were popular computers, especially in universities, where they were capable of interfacing with a variety of control systems.

IMG_9717

Horizon, Front: disc drives visible

There is a lot information about Horizons on the internet, but I think I will let Jim from the Old-Computers.com take it from here:

The Horizon, Aaaahh.. What a beautiful machine. It had a big honkin’ transformer for a linear power supply. It was the first product incorporating its own disk controller (see below), a 4 Mhz 8080, 4 KB of RAM standard, and 1 or 2 Shugart 5.25″ floppies. RAM could be expanded to 16 Kb.

The Horizon evolved with a faster (8 Mhz) Zilog Z80, and 64 KB of RAM. Then there was an accounting system called TSS/A that made the Horizon multi-user. It consisted of the main processor board, with multiple memory cards in the bus, and an 8 port I/O card for the other terminals.

The final crowning glory of the Horizon was a multi-user system called Turbo-Dos. This used the original processor as a controller, and auxiliary processor boards were added in for each user. They were called 8/16, because they could run at 8 or 16 bits. Each user had their own processor and memory (64K) and connected via boardlets from the main machine.

Another interesting fact – NorthStar was one of the early adopters of the hard disk drive. It was called the HD-18 – 18 Megabytes in an 18 inch platter. The drive was as big as a very large suitcase, and weighed about 70 pounds! You could daisy chain up to 4 of these, but the starting current was 13 amps, and when you lit them up all the lights in the place would dim.

NorthStar’s first product was a disk controller for the S-100 bus, namely for Altairs. It controlled Shugart 5-1/4″ drives, but using a proprietary format of 10 sectors hard-sectored floppies. This meant that the floppies needed 11 holes near the center, (1 index, and 10 sector markers) which was not the norm. Most floppies had one index hole

Its possible Michel collected data for his research and classes on the discs read by this computer. Unfortunately, I have not been able to locate any of the discs in the collection so far, and it’s doubtful if the machine could be restored into a condition capable of running them. You can see the fuse on the back is shattered.

IMG_9721

Horizon, Back: Fan, power, and broken fuse

___________________________________________

Sources:

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=50

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NorthStar_Horizon

http://ricehistorycorner.com/2015/02/27/curt-michel-1934-2015/

http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-030215a-obituary-curt-michel-astronaut.html

http://news.rice.edu/2015/02/27/professor-emeritus-curt-michel-dies/

Professors Working

Today is “Work Like a Dog” day. If you are wondering where I come up with these “holidays,” I go here.

So let’s look at some professors hard at work.

Dr. Lewis Ryon, 1937

Dr. Lewis Ryon, 1937

Dr. Bill Akers, 1968

Dr. Bill Akers, 1968

Based on Dr. Kobayashi’s desk, he must have really worked like a dog.

Riki Kobayashi, 1978

Dr. Riki Kobayashi, 1978


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