(Alphanumeric, Autologic)

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1. Overview

The acronym "APS" was applied to several quite different systems linked primarily by their corporate history.

Initially it stood for "Alphanumeric Photocomposition System," a product of Alphanumeric Corp. Also "APS Photocomposer." Also "APS Filmsetter."

There was no "APS-1". {Belzer 1976}

The APS-2 is described briefly (p. 567-568) and illustrated (plate 3.73) of Phillips' Computer Peripherals and Typesetting {Phillips 1968}. Belzer indicates that this development came out of a 1963 US Government Printing Office "tender for a fast filmsetter" (p. 351), but Phillips indicates that the first commercial-grade digital filmsetters were not ready until 1967 (p. 531). The APS-2 was a digital phototypesetting system ("filmsetter") which created letterforms from digital rather than photographic representations and output photographic film for use in offset lithography. Belzer notes that it was driven by a PDP-8 minicomputer, and suggests that this was the first example of a general purpose minicomputer being used in this way. The photographs reprinted later in this Notebook confirm this, and indicate that a Teletype Model 33 ASR was used as a terminal.

The APS-3 was produced under contract to IBM and became the IBM 2680 Art Printer, a peripheral for System/360 (Models 30 or 50). Announced 1967, operational October, 1969. {Belzer 1976} Also called the IBM 2680 Typesetter or the IBM 2680 CRT Printer (so called I presume because of the use of a CRT burn the images of the digital type to film). This latter name seems the most common in the computer industry literature of the period, and would seem to be that employed by IBM itself {GC22-6939}. Note that modern reprints of 1960s vintage articles sometimes err and call it the "2980." The relationship between Alphanumeric and IBM was said to have terminated in 1970 {Belzer 1976}, and this machine is difficult to trace in the literature.

At present, I have been able to discover only one photograph of an IBM 2680, in the collection of The Computer History Museum (Mountain View, CA): http://www.computerhistory.org/collections/catalog/102657168

The APS-4 was developed by Autologic and "became the Photon 7000 ... driven by a Datamate 70 minicomputer." {Belzer 1976} The Datamate 70 was a 16-bit minicomputer.

The Autologic APS-5 was driven by an Autologic-73 computer. {Belzer 1976}

Note, however, there may be some overlap in this evolutionary path. Examples:

The 1969 issue of The Penrose Annual (in an as yet unidentified-by-me article; I'm getting this from a Google Books snippet, not the real thing) says "Alphanumeric announced a complete system of setting called 'tape-to-type' which uses a 360/50 computer and its APS-2 filmsetter."

An employment ad for Chemical Abstracts Service which appeared in the January 24, 1977 Computerworld, p. 58, said: "Our equipment currently includes a PDP-15, PDP-11/40, APS-4 and APS-73 (Autologic), Two four-phase text input systems, and shortly, several PDP-11T34 systems."

2. APS-2

[click image to go to page]

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APS-2 Gallery of Images

3. Notes and References

{Belzer 1976} Belzer, Jack, Albert G. Holzman, Allen Kent. The Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology, Vol. 5: "Classical Optimization to Computer Output/Input Microform." (NY: CRC Press, 1976.

{GC22-6939} IBM Corp. GC22-6939. IBM System/360 Special Feature: 2680 CRT Printer Installation Manual Physical Planning . 8 pages.

{Phillips 1968} Phillips, Arthur. Computer Peripherals and Typesetting. (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1968.)

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