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The Neuroscience Display Processor Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131262D
Original Publication Date: 1978-Nov-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 15 page(s) / 51K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Joseph J. Capowski: AUTHOR [+3]


University of North Carolina

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The Neuroscience Display Processor

Joseph J. Capowski

University of North Carolina

~! B~ -- ~. 11

After five years of experience meeting neuroscientists' display requirements, a university computer center constructed a low-cost, special-purpose, highly successful graphics processor.

Since 1972, a computer center for collecting and analyzing neurophysiological and neuroanatomical data has existed in the Department of Physiology at the University of North Carolina. The computer center contains a DEC PDP-11/45 computer; until August 1977, an Evans and Sutherland LDS-2 linedrawing graphics system' was interfaced to the computer. The role of a graphics system in a neuroscience laboratory should be emphasized; the primary output from the computer to the neuroscientist is the CRT display and its hardcopy plotter output. This form is easily understood by the scientist and can be published directly without being redrawn by an artist.

The LDS-2 graphics system was obsolete, fairly difficult to maintain, and no longer supported by its manufacturer. Because it had to be programmed in assembler language, generating new applications was awkward. Furthermore, the LDS-2 offered many more features than are required for our work, adding unnecessary complexity to the system. Consequently, we decided in 1976 to replace the LDS-2 with a graphics system that satisfies our needs with little expenditure on capabilities beyond our needs. The system had to be inexpensive (less than $10,000), easy to program, and easy to maintain. We surveyed commercially available refresh graphics equipment early in 1976, with disappointing results that were confirmed by other surveys.2-5 Several systems 6- ~0 available at a reasonable price did not include a 3D capability, which is a necessity in neuroscience applications. Other systems,- which had the needed capabilites, unfortunately, had many more as well and as a result were too expensive. Two refresh graphics systems constructed at universities/6 ~7 did not include all the necessary

neuroscience features, but their existence indicated that the Neuroscience Display Processor we had in mind was feasible and that we could build it ourselves at low cost. The design was begun early in 1976, and the NDP was installed and began operating in January 1977.

Neuroscience display needs and NDP capabilities

Neuroscience displays ~9 convey information about neuroanatomical structures or a series of neurophysiological events. The information almost always takes one of three forms: structures, waveforms, or graphs...