10 YEARS AGO — OCTOBER 21, 1999
Cable cylinders let alligators attack on signal: Fear becomes entertainment when it is generated with fast-acting ghoulish creatures and macabre machines operated by cable cylinders. Distortions Unlimited, Greeley, Colo., a manufacturer of commercial haunted-house equipment, wanted its lifelike creatures to lunge at customers as fast as possible. To get the necessary speed, the company used cable cylinders from Tolomatic Inc., Hamel, Minn., on its 12-ft Attack Alligator and Sleeping Giant. A water-submergible 2-in.-bore, 60-in.-stroke cable cylinder lets the Alligator lunge at unsuspecting victims as they step on a hidden pressure pad. A 2½-in.-bore, 48-in.-stroke cable cylinder jerks up the 11-ft, 6-in. Sleeping Giant’s 600-lb head as he leaps to his feet and screams.

30 YEARS AGO — OCTOBER 25, 1979
Smallest sealed pushbutton switch: Two sealed versions of the ultraminiature Series 39 pushbutton switch are now being offered by Grayhill Inc., La Grange, Ill., because indoor and outdoor applications are increasingly requiring spillproof and splashproof switches, and space is always at a premium. The new SPST-N.O. switch extends only 0.350 in. behind a panel and the SPST-N.C. switch, 0.529 in. The 0.312-in.-diameter switches are momentary, butt-contact types rated to make and break ½ A (SPST-N.O.) and ¼ A for 250,000 operations.

50 YEARS AGO — OCTOBER 15, 1959
United Engineering Center: Groundbreaking has begun in New York City for the $12 million, 18-story United Engineering Center, which will be the headquarters for 18 major engineering societies. With a combined membership of 300,000, the societies are responsible for a major part of the nation’s technical publications, industrial standards, and engineering conferences. The Center’s library will continue to be the nation’s, and maybe the world’s, most complete repository of engineering knowledge.