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Pioneering Work in the Field of Computer Process Control

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129841D
Original Publication Date: 1995-Apr-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 21 page(s) / 68K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

THOMAS M. STOUT: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

Dreams of using digital computers in industrial control systems surfaced almost as soon as such a computer was invented in the mid to late 1940s. By the early fifties, the concepts of such use were fairly well established. However, actual applications had to wait until relatively small, reliable, and also relatively inexpensive machines were available, along with vendor companies with the win and the initiative to pursue this field vigorously. Such a company was the Ramo-Wooldridge Company, which entered this field in the mid-fifties. The company found ready acceptance of its products among the companies in the process industries. By the mid-sixties, there were installations in almost every process industry, and many other vendors had entered the field.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1995 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Pioneering Work in the Field of Computer Process Control

THOMAS M. STOUT

THEODORE J. WILLIAMS

(Image Omitted: This article chronicles the development of this early field by describing several of the early installations and their successes and difficulties.)

Dreams of using digital computers in industrial control systems surfaced almost as soon as such a computer was invented in the mid to late 1940s. By the early fifties, the concepts of such use were fairly well established. However, actual applications had to wait until relatively small, reliable, and also relatively inexpensive machines were available, along with vendor companies with the win and the initiative to pursue this field vigorously. Such a company was the Ramo- Wooldridge Company, which entered this field in the mid-fifties. The company found ready acceptance of its products among the companies in the process industries. By the mid-sixties, there were installations in almost every process industry, and many other vendors had entered the field.

Such installations became the norm for computer applications to industrial control until the microprocessor and its associated distributed computer control systems superseded them beginning in the mid-seventies.

Automatic control has evolved over many centuries, and it is not possible to state a precise date for the first instance of closed-loop process control.1,2 The origins of digital computer control of processes, however, can be documented with much greater precision.

Digital computer control of processes had to wait, obviously, for invention of the digital computer. When digital computers began to be commercially available, sometime in the late 1940s, it was not long before imaginative individuals proposed their use as instruments for process control.

Perhaps the earliest speculation about a computer-controlled plant appeared in a Scientific American article in 1948.3

The first technical publication suggesting use of digital computers for industrial process control was probably a 1949 paper by G.S. Brown, D.P. Campbell, and H.T. Marcy of MIT.4 In November 1952, M.V. Long and E.G. Holzmann of Shell Development talked about computer applications to petroleum and chemical processes; they not only described what is now known as "supervisory control," in which the computer changes the set points of analog controllers, but "direct digital control," where the analog controllers are eliminated.5

This article was derived from The Computer Control Pioneers: A History of the Innovators and Their Work by Thomas M. Stout and Theodore J. Williams, published by the Instrument Society of America' Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, 1992.

In a books published in 1955, A.J. Young of Imperial Chemical Industries devoted several pages to a discussion o...