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Events and Sightings

IEEJ Commemoration: One Step on Electrotechnology

The 5th Commemoration: One Step on Electrotechnology (Look Back to the Future) of the Institute of Electrical Engineers of Japan (IEEJ) was held at the Hiroshima Institute of Technology on 22 March 2012 during the IEEJ annual convention. IEEJ started this program in 2008 as part of its 120th anniversary celebration to commemorate excellent technical achievement in electrotechnology in four categories: products, places, events, and people.

The following five technical achievements were recognized this year:

  • • the NE-type phototelegraphic system (facsimile machine) (NEC),

  • • home television viewing and home video recording (Sony),

  • • nickel-cadmium rechargeable batteries (Energy Company of Panasonic Group and SANYO Electric),

  • • PC-9800 Series (NEC Personal Computers), and

  • • Yosami Radio Transmitting Station and the first radio communication between Japan and Europe (Yosami Radio Transmitting Station Memorial Museum, Kariya, Aichi).

The awardees' names are listed in parentheses following the item.

The NE-type phototelegraphic system was developed by Yasujiro Niwa and Masatsugu Kobayashi of NEC and was successfully used to transmit pictures for a newspaper company on the occasion of Emperor Hirohito's enthronement ceremony held in 1928 (see Figure 1). Niwa later served as the first president of the Tokyo Denki University. The machine is exhibited at the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo.

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Figure 1.

Yasujiro Niwa and Masatsugu Kobayashi in front of the NE-type phototelegraphic system (facsimile machine) used for picture transmission at Emperor Hirohito enthronement ceremony in 1928. (Courtesy of NEC Corporation.)

The Yosami Radio Transmitting Station was built for the wireless communications between Japan and Europe in 1929. The gigantic antenna system of 250-meter-high steel towers and 1,760-meter antenna and the 500 KW high-power very low frequency (VLF) transmitting facilities were used until 1993. Major facilities are preserved as Yosami Radio Transmitting Station Memorial Museum and have been recognized as IEEE Milestones (see Figure 2).

On the same day, a symposium on the cooperation of commemoration and heritage activities was held as a part of the national convention. The IEEJ, IPSJ, Chemical Society of Japan, Japan Society of Mechanical Engineering, Japan Society of Civil Engineering, and National Museum of Science and Nature all reported the current status of their activities. Although their approaches differ, these organizations have many issues in common. It would be useful to get together and discuss these issues to make the activities more effective.

Akihiko Yamada is a principal at the Computer Systems and Media Laboratory, Japan. Contact him at a.yamada@computer.org.

Computer History Museum Update

It's been a year since our last update and the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, has been as busy as ever. As part of its mission to "preserve and present the artifacts and stories of the information age," CHMexplores computer history from a diverse set of perspectives. We believe that computer history is for everyone and structure our exhibits and programs with this in mind. Regardless of age or background, there is something at CHM for people as varied as inquisitive fifth graders to post-docs. Let's review some of the new ways CHM has brought computer history to the world over the last year.


Although we think of ourselves as living in a digital age, at a fundamental level the universe is a symphony of vibrations, what we call the analog domain. Harnessing these analog signals for further computer processing is done by people who can combine art, engineering, [End Page 70] and intuition into devices that can span and connect both worlds. CHM's exhibit "An Analog Life: Remembering Jim Williams" describes the life and work of Silicon Valley analog design guru Jim Williams. Williams was known the world over in the engineering community as one of the best analog designers of his time, as well as a legendary mentor and artist. The exhibit is based on his perplexing workbench and a companion CHM-produced mini-documentary on Williams' work. The exhibit is open until 15 September 2012 and an online version is available at www. computerhistory.org/highlights/analoglife.

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