The Vicom Image Simulation Lab

Vicom Lab Solution

One of my first assignments my new supervisor, Andy, gave me in the Systems Group, was to organize the wiring in the Vicom Image Simulation Lab. The lab had a Vicom computer, which was a high end image processing computer (actually, it used the same 68000 Processor as my Mac128K), that had multiple RGB framestores for storing images and the results of image processing algorithms. It was used to simulate image quality of different devices and algorithms used for image processing. There were multiple input devices in the lab like VHS, UHS and Beta video recorders, a laserdisc player, RGB video cameras, signal generators, a NTSC to RGB converter, a RGB to NTSC converter, multiple monitors and much more. Andy wanted me to create an easier way to hook things together.

My video systems knowledge at the time consisted of knowing a little about how to run a VCR, operate a 8mm camcorder and what few terms I'd picked up from the SV7510 program. It seemed overwhelming at first, until I realized that I might be able to draw it out on my Mac at home. So I went through the lab and made a list of all the equipment and noted the number and type of inputs and outputs each device had. That night I began to draw all the pieces of equipment and an image of the input panel and output panel of each device. What was needed was a patch panel that would allow input and output from the all devices in one place, instead of having to crawl around behind machines to connect them.

It took me about two nights to complete the above drawing in MacPaint. It had to be drawn sideways in MacPaint, since that was the only way you could create a vertical document. On the third day, I turned my solution in to Andy. You have to realize that personal computers were brand new back then, only managers had one on their desks at Kodak. Everything was done by pen, pencil or secretarial power. I believe Andy was blown away by what I handed him, because there was a Macintosh on my desk at work in a few weeks. I believe he realized the power of lllustrative drawings to convey ideas. And he would put me to work illustrating complex ideas, so that marketing would understand what we were talking about.

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Pixar Image Computer

The Pixar Image Computer was bought by VICOM in 1990, and replaced our original VICOM computer.