10 YEARS AGO — 2000
Compaq debuts entry-level workstation: The Deskpro Workstation 240 from Compaq Computer Corp. bridges the gap between desktop computers and professional workstations. Aimed at entry-level workstation users, the computer features enhanced graphics, SCSI storage, and application certification. The workstation has a 128-Mbyte, 700-MHz Rambus memory, and a Pentium III 600-MHz processor. Prices for the 600-MHz/Matrox G400 model start at $2,600.

30 YEARS AGO — 1980
Automotive robot shifts for itself: Engineers at Chrysler Corp. have invented what is believed to be the auto industry’s first reliably working robotic shifter for manual-transmission cars. The robotic shifter is used to meet government certification tests — boring 50,000-mile-in-place “drives” on a test-cell dynamometer. The robot is a series of metal struts and pneumatic actuators placed on the floor between the driver’s seat and controls. Its heart is a microcomputer located in a console within the test cell. The robot installs by attaching one actuator to the clutch pedal and two to the gearshift — one to move the shift lever on a left/right plane and the other on a fore/aft plane. An engine-throttle controller is attached to the gas pedal.

50 YEARS AGO — 1960
On-off static control locks dc motors on speed: Pulses of line voltage from a new solid-state control keep dc motors on speed. The device locks a motor to within 0.1% of rated rpm by continuously checking its operating rpm and alternating speeding it up and slowing it down. Developed by Globe Industries Inc., Dayton, Ohio, the control is reportedly unaffected by temperature changes, vibration, shock, and voltage and load fluctuations. One version, developed for fractional-horsepower motors, is housed in a 2-cu in. enclosure.