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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Scientific Applications: BRAD: the brookhaven raster display

A multiconsole computer display system has been designed that provides very rich displays at low unit cost. Each BRAD (Brookhaven RAster Display) console can plot tens of thousands of points, or up to 4000 characters at 30 frames per second. After an initial display system investment of $50,000, each display, with teletype, cost less than $3,000. The technique employed is that of programmatically generating a binary image of the desired display in a computer. The image is written on a rotating drum memory. Independent read heads continuously display the picture, which is generated by swept horizontal lines. A standard TV monitor serves as the display device. The technique has two drawbacks. A computer must compute any image to be displayed. Also, the “pointing” interaction is more difficult. This is because the pointing function gives only the coordinates of the point on the screen. The inverse of the map generation process is required to calculate the coordinates at the input space.

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