10 YEARS AGO — 2001 Bird’s eye view for telecom: From France’s ATDI Inc. comes a high-definition 3Dmapping tool for telecommunication operators. One of its components, known as SAM (subscriber access-management) View, takes aerial photographs and transforms them using a digital terrain model algorithm. This lets operators visualize building roofs, which is important when installing radio antenna networks.

30 YEARS AGO — 1981 Build your own satellite receiver?: If the Federal Communications Commission approves, a new Heathkit priced at $6,995 will let homeowners build their own Earth stations and receive a wide range of television signals directly from communications satellites. The antenna and receiver, described by Heath Co. as “the first commercial-quality Earth-station kit specifically designed for the home-entertainment market,” features a high-gain 3-m parabolic dish antenna, a low-noise amplifier/down-converter for processing satellite signals, a settop receiver console, and wireless remote control. After a steel foundation is set on concrete piers, the antenna can be erected by three people in one day, Heath estimates. Separate assembly of the satellite-receiver kit should take about 20 to 30 hr.

50 YEARS AGO — 1961 Irrigation by solar energy in underdeveloped areas is the aim of a system by Westinghouse Electric Corp. A prototype, developed in cooperation with the Solar Energy Laboratory of the University of Wisconsin, produces 50 W of power, converting sunlight into electricity by means of a thermoelectric generator. The electricity is used to drive a motor with a water pump connected to it. Still under development, the 200-W system shown will pump enough water from a depth of 20 ft to irrigate 4 acres of land with 24 in. of water a year. Daily output is 6,000 gallons.

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