Scor­pio News


July–September 1988 – Volume 2. Issue 3.

Page 38 of 39

All can say here is that this business of establishing a ‘de facto’ or official standard for that matter takes years, typically two or three generations of equipment. Given the typical life of office equipment, that’s 14 to 20 years. But positive signs of a standard becoming established occur at the end of the first generation. So in the case of WORMs, the pointers are already there. Even during this process, the losers have to capitalise on their investment, and the only way to do this if the hardware sales are lagging is through the sale of media. Being large companies, they don’t want to get a bad name in any area, so the manufacture of media continues regardless of the popularity of the system. It’s not until the end of the second generation that any large manufacturer will entertain discontinuing a product, because a reputation for letting people down costs more in the long run than keeping uneconomic production of a particular type of media going.

So, the bad news has happened, some 10 to 15 years in the future the optical disk system chosen has been obsoleted, but of course the images can be transferred. It might require some time, and it might require the old equipment to achieve it. But as the information is digital and on disk, the process will be almost automatic. Any vendor hoping to sell new equipment in place of old isn’t likely to attract your order unless he can transfer the data. Mind you, don’t forget the very first premise in this piece, “Why am I keeping this anyway ?”.

All in all, I’m not impressed by the need for standards for imaging systems. Standards will eventually come, and many early users of imaging systems will end up as ‘non-standard’. What I say is, “I can’t see why it should matter.”.

That completes the process of getting the image onto the disk. The job of getting it back again is the reverse. Notice how I’ve skipped the business of finding the correct image out of the thousands on the disk ? Just be patient. The last chapter is about the retrieval software, I haven’t finished with the hardware yet.

As I said, the job of getting the image back is basically the reverse of putting it there in the first place. The compressed image is read back from the disk and placed in the computer memory. It’s then fed to the compressor which works in reverse and expands the image back to it’s original shape and size. Note that it usually takes a bit longer to expand an image than to compress it, but not much longer – a second or so. The complete expanded image resides in the computer memory exactly as if it had just been scanned in. Just to climb on to my soap-box again in my campaign against the murder of the English language in technical subjects. The opposite of compression in this sense is expansion and not de-compression. De-compression is something which happens to aircraft cabins or cylinders of compressed gas. De-compression is the wrong word to use in this context.

Anyway, that’s all for this issue. The final gripping installment is next time!
Copyright: D. R. Hunt. © 1988,

Page 38 of 39