Had electricity before computers

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My husband comments that we had electricity before we had computers, so what's the problem? Does anyone want to comment?

-- Amy Leone (aleone@amp.com), June 26, 1998


Let's see, a good analogy might be: I had a '66 Mustang that was astonishingly easy to work on. Now I have a Dodge Ram with all kinds of gizmos so that I don't want to even LOOK under the hood. I could probably rip out all the electronics, and try to restore it to a simple running design with no sensors- de-engineering, I guess -, but am I inclined to? Would my warranty be affected? Or would I have to completely rip out the engine and look around for a '67 Dodge engine somewhere?

Great question. Wonder what the relative efficiency would be within the power grid if humans had to plan for raw materials, production load planning & distribution, etc. instead of systems doing it.

-- lisa bucher (lbucher@amp.com), June 26, 1998.

What I've gathered in my one week of y2k awareness is there are several factors which could impact the "power grid." One is that if there are utilities that go down the other utilities will have to compensate for this, draining their resources. If there are multiple incidents, this could overload the main suppliers. Combine this with nuclear power plants possibly being shut down by the NRC as a result of not becoming compliant in time and you see the possibility that the main supplier's source is thus reduced by this additionall lack of power producing resources. Additionally, there is a lot of discussion regarding the ability of trains to provide necessary coal to the power plants as a result of noncompliant problems on the part of the railroad. I'm sure there are other issues compounding this problem that I may be overlooking but that is the gyst of it from my perspective at this point. I'm sure there are much more knowledgeable people on this forum that would probably be able to articulaate more clearly, but I think you might get the point. There's a web page on this topic at www.euy2k.com, if you want to research yourself.

-- Lisa (ldward1@aol.com), June 26, 1998.

Both Lisas are right.

We did have electricity before computers. But, as we developed computers we began to put them in power generation and distribution networks, in place of older techniques that had been used. One analog is telecommunications: before embedded logic circuits we had mechanical relays. With embedded logic switching the telephone companies were able to add more efficient logging processes (to track the start and end times of calls).

As time went on, many of the older techniques were eliminated. Often manual processes were eliminated and replaced by embedded systems. Think of a grocery store 20 years ago. All inventory was done, on a periodic basis, by a bunch of people running around the store with paper and pens. Now a running inventory is kept automatically because every item is run through a bar code scanner and is subtracted from the total on hand. Could groceries revert to manual operation (assuming that they had room to store a weeks worth of food)? Only be installing completely new systems.

So it is with the electrics (and the water companies, sewage companies).

-- Rocky Knolls (rknolls@hotmail.com), June 27, 1998.

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