History for the future: PADT seals time capsule as part of 25th-anniversary celebration

The past is a tricky thing to remember. When we started preparing for PADT’s 25th anniversary celebration we spent a lot of time thinking about the past, about our journey from an idea to the thriving business we are today. And one though kept coming back to us, “we really should have captured and stored more.”

We can’t change that past but we can preserve our history for the future with a Time Capsule. On July 1st of 2019, we took 49 items and crammed them into a sealed box that we embedded into the wall of PADT’s Tempe headquarters.

You can see a list of all the items at the bottom of this post. Some of the highlights are a copy of our different business card designs over the past 25 years, a collection of PADT logo’d shirts, bits and pieces from our SCA product, parts from various fuel cell blowers, samples of 3D Printed parts, and some old manuals. We also included a collection of tech from the past 25 years including four cell phones of various types.

The most interesting object we stored from our perspective was a binder with documents and images from the past 25 years. Here are some of the items in that binder that are interesting today:

A timeline of PADT Business Cards over the past 25 years. We did think they looked cool back then.
We didn’t take any early photos, but we do have pictures of most of our employee for almost every year since 2000.
Our first report to a customer was a stress analysis for a sprinkler valve housing.
Our staff took a look at the way things were in 1994 and in 2019. Technology, politics, entertainment, and news. A great look back at then and now.

It was a lot of fun gathering the items and thinking about the impact they all had on PADT over the years.

All of that stuff we wanted to save is piled on the cart. A lot of memories.

On Monday we crammed it all in and sealed it up. In 25 years, July 1, 2044, PADT employees, customers, and partners of the future will open it up to see what is inside. That is not too far into the future and with luck, many of us will be around to witness it.

PADT’s founders… 25 years older… Eric Miller, Ward Rand, and Rey Chu
Jeff expertly filled the box full
Co-Founder, Rey Chu puts in the first screw.
Ward Rand adds the second fastener.
Eric Miller tightens everything up.

We wonder what they will make of our past, some of which will be fifty years old by then. Will they laugh? Or scratch their head wondering what the heck a cell phone was? We can’t wait to find out.

Sealed and ready for the future

List of Items in PADT’s Time Capsule

1First official printed PADT Brochure
2Business Card designs - 1994 to present
3Service Partnership Guide - 2000 ver. 1
4Employee Handbook 2019
5Business Journal - Issue: March 1, 2019
6Eric's Honeywell Contractor Badge (2000) - Transition period from Allied Signal to Honeywell
7One of the early company polo shirts - Late 1990's
8PADT Baseball Jersey - 2011 Company Photo
92014 PADT 20th Anniversary t-shirt
1025th Anniversary paper "Swag Bag" - Pen (bamboo), Mousepad (retreaded tire), Sticky Pad, Anniversary t-shirt
11PADT Cap - our most popular swag item. Given to customers and employees started placing in photos of their world travels.
12Ruler giveaways - Clear acrylic from Gilbert office days (1990's) / White magnetic 6" from the mid-2010's
13YoYo - PADT's first swag item - distributed at the Ansys Worldwide User Conference
14Brass PADT logo used for Service Awards (mid-2000's)
1515th PADT Anniversary Cup
16PADT flash drive - 8 GB. Given to customers pre-loaded with files and also blank ones included in our New Hire Kit
17SCA 1200 Users Manual - 2012 rev 3
18SCA Pump Assembly
19SCA Impeller
20APDL Guide - written by the Tech Support Team (2nd Edition) 1st Edition was 2010
21Ansys 5.2 Complete Software Package - 1996
22Cathode air blower housing for fuel cell in municipal buses
23Mixed flow impeller for fuel cell in municipal buses
24Radial Impeller - cathode air blower for fuel cell powered aircraft application
25Roots Blower Rotor - cathode air delivery for a fuel cell
26Regenerative flow impeller - Hydrogen Recycle Blower for fuel cell car
27Fuel Cell Test Block circa 2003 while Rob Rowan was at ASM. History Unknown.
28OrthoSensor - knee replacement alignment sensor designed and developed by PADT
29The Spot - personal location and communication device designed by PADT, which talks directly to a satellite. Case Study Included.
30SLS model of Ward Rand's heel. Broken from ladder fall. (2001)
313D Printed Business Card
32FDM part - Roots Blower Housing - designed by Eric Miller. (1999)
33SLA part - Ryobi Weed Wacker spool (1997)
34Protoype Diffuser in a compressor - designed for the Air Force Research Lab
35PolyJet demo part - the introduction of water PolyJet using various materials printed simultaneously
36PolyJet employee name tag printed for 25th Anniversary event
37First 3D Metal printed part. We were the beta test. (2001)
38Pro-Engineer Manual (1997) - PADT's first CAD package
39Event photo posters made to commemorate PADT25 - originals are 24"x36", gallery framed and hung in office
403" Floppy Disk with Honeywell Ansys Thermal Model files (1996)
41CD Rom - Honeywell Impeller Stress & Vibration Analysis (2002)
42Materialise - Early version of software used to send parts to SLA Machine (1999'ish)
43Motorola i530 Nextel Flip Phone - iDEN's original Push-To-Talk walkie, speakerphone, voice dialing (2004)
44PADT's first Smart Phone - Blackberry 71001 / International with internet access (2005)
45Rey's Blackberry Curve 8310 (2007)
46An employee's old iPhone 6 (2014)
47Macintosh IIVX (Photo) - PADT’s original computer. It was used to create early brochures, design the PADT logo, write letters and reports, and ran our first accounting system for many years.
48Binder of documents
49Team Building Event t-shirts - 2014 & 2015

Throwback Thursday: 3D Printing on “Good Morning America” in 1989

3dprinting-1989

Note: This post is not displaying correctly, here is a link to the video:
http://youtu.be/NpRDuJ5YgoQ

Take a look at this science segment that Jeff Strain found on Stereolithography from 1989.  If you ignore the hair styles (Joan Lunden rocked that helmet hair) the report isn’t that much different from news coverage that 3D Printing is getting today. But the technology has sure progressed.

To add some additional perspective, according to the 2014 Wohlers Report, 104 systems were sold in 1989. 94 SLA machines from 3D Systems and 10 systems from now defunct Japanese SLA providers. 

The same report estimates that for 2013 9,823 commercial systems were sold by over 33 different suppliers.  This does not include the personal printer (low cost desktop) systems, which was estimated at over 72,000 units!.  That is 9,345% growth over 24 years for commercial systems.. 66,702 systems have been tracked as old.  

Take a look at the video. It is truly fascinating how the message still resonates and how predictions for replacing traditional manufacturing were maybe a bit optimistic.  But even in the early days, this report captured the promise of the technology. 

It has been an incredible ride, and it is not over yet.

Slide Rules, Logarithms, and Compute Servers

If any of you have been to PADT’s headquarters in Tempe, Arizona, you probably noticed the giant slide rule in the middle of our building.  You can see a portion of it in the picture below, at the top of our Training, Mentoring, and Support group picture.

PADT-TechSupport-Team-Prop

This thing is huge, over 6 feet (2 m) from side to side, in its un-extended position hanging on the wall.

In theory a gigantic slide rule could provide more accuracy, but our trophy, a Kueffel & Esser model 68 1929 copyrighted 1947 and 1961, was intended for teaching purposes in classrooms.  Most engineers had essentially pocket size or belt holder sized slide rules, also known as slip sticks. 

For the real thing, here is a picture of a slide rule used by Eric Miller’s father Col. BT Miller while at West Point from 1955 to 1958 as well as during his Master’s program in 1964.

Burt-Miller-SlideRule-D2

Why do we care about the slide rule today?  Have you ever seen World War II aircraft, submarines, or aircraft carriers?  These were designed using slide rules and/or logarithms.  The early space program?  Slide rules were used then too.  Some phenomenal engineering was accomplished by our predecessors using these devices.  Back then the numerical operations were just a tool to utilize their engineering knowledge.  Now I think we have a tendency to focus on the numerical due to its ease of use and impressive presentation, while perhaps forgetting or at least de-emphasizing the underlying engineering.  That’s not to say that we don’t have great engineers out there; rather it’s a call to energize you all to remember, consider, and utilize your engineering knowledge as you use your simulation tools.

By contrast, here is a picture of PADT’s brand new server room, with cluster machines being put together in the big cabinets.  Hundreds of cores.

servers

What about the giant slide rule?

My father found a thick book at an estate sale a few months ago.  There are a lot of retirees living in Arizona, so estate sales are quite common and popular.  They occur at a life stage when due to death or the need for assisted living, folks are no longer able to live in their home so the contents are sold, clearing out the home and generating some cash for the family.  This particular estate sale was for a retired engineer.  The book caught my father’s eye, first because it was quite thick and second because the title was, Mechanical Engineers’ Handbook.  Figuring it was a bargain for the amazing price of $1.00, he bought it for me.  This book is better known as Marks’ Handbook.  It’s apparently still in publication, at least as late as the 11th Edition in 2006, but the particular edition my father bought for me is the Fifth Edition from 1951.

marks-handbook

Although the slide rule is mostly a curiosity to us today, in 1951 it was state of the art for numerical computation.  While Marks’ has a couple of paragraphs on “Computing Machines”, described as “electrically driven mechanical desk calculators such as the Marchant, Monroe, or Friden”, the slide rule was what I will call the calculator of choice by mechanical engineers at the beginning of the 2nd half of the 20th century. 

As an aside, these mechanical calculators performed multiplication and division, using what I will describe as incredibly complex mechanisms.  Here is a link to a Wikipedia article on the Marchant Calculator:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marchant_Calculator

Marks’ Handbook devotes about 3 pages to the operation of the slide rule, starting with simple multiplication and division and then discussing various methods of utilization and various types of slide rules.  It starts off by stating, “The slide rule is an indispensable aid in all problems in multiplication, division, proportion, squares, square roots, etc., in which a limited degree of accuracy is sufficient.” 

The slide rule operates using logarithms.  If you’re not familiar with using logarithms then you are probably younger than me, since I recall learning them in math class in probably junior high in the late 1970’s.  The slide rule uses common logarithms, meaning the log of a number is the exponent needed to raise a base of 10 to get that number.  For example, the common log of 100 is 2.  The common log table in the 1951 edition of Marks shows us that the common log of 4.44 is 0.6474.  For the sake of completeness, the ‘other’ logarithm is the natural log, meaning the base is the irrational number e, approximated as 2.718.

log-table

Getting back to common (base of 10) logs, the math magic is that logarithms allow for shortcuts in fairly complex computations.  For example, log (ab) = log a + log b.  That means if we want to multiple two fairly complicated numbers, we can simply look up the common log of each and add them together.  Similarly, log (a/b) = log a – log b. 

Here is an example, which I will keep simple.  Let’s say we want to multiple 0.0512 by 0.624.  On a calculator this is simple, but what if you are stranded on a remote island and all you have is a log table?  Knowing the equations above, you can look up the log of 0.0512 which is 0.7093-2 and the log of 0.624 which is 0.7952-1.  We now add:
adding_numbers

Writing that sum as a positive decimal minus an integer is important to being able to look up the antilogarithm or number whose log is 0.5045 – 2.

Looking up the number whose log is 0.5045 we get 3.195, using a little bit of linear interpolation.  The “-2” tells us to shift the decimal point to the left twice, meaning our answer is 0.003195.  Thus, using a little addition, some table lookup, a bit of in the head interpolation, and some knowledge on how to shift decimal points, we fairly easily arrive at the product of two three digit fractional numbers.  Now you are free to look for more coconuts on the island.  Or maybe get back to a hatch in the ground where you need to type in the numbers 4, 8, 14, 16, 23, and 42 every 108 minutes.  Oops, I’m really becoming Lost here…

sliderule-book

Getting back to the slide rule, one way to think of it is a graphical representation of the log tables.  In its most basic form, the slide rule consists of two logarithmic scales.  By lining up the scales, the log values can be added or subtracted.  For example, if we want to multiply something simple, like 4 x 6, we simply look from left to right on the scale on the ‘fixed’ portion of the slide rule to get to 4, then slide the moving portion of the slide so that its 1 lines up with the 4 found above on the fixed portion.  We then move left to right on the movable scale to find the 6.  Where the 6 on the movable slide lines up with on the fixed portion is our solution, 24.  What we’ve really done is add the log of 4 to the log of 6 and then find the antilog of that result, which is 24.  Now that we’ve found 24, we’re not Lost

We don’t intend to give detailed instructions on all phases of performing calculations using slide rules here, but hopefully you get the basics of how it is done.  There are plenty of online resources as well as slide rule apps that provide all sorts of details.  Besides multiplication and division, slide rules can be used for squares and square roots.  There are (were) specialty slide rules for other purposes.  Note that with additional knowledge and skill in visually interpolating on a log scale, up to 3 or even 4 significant digits can be determined depending on the size of the slide rule.

ted-slide-ruleThe author, attempting to prove that 4 x 6 is indeed 24

After having studied the Marks’ section on slide rules, experimenting with a slide rule app on an iPad as well as the PADT behemoth on the wall, I conclude that it was a very elegant method for calculating numbers much more quickly than could be done by traditional pencil and paper.  It’s must faster to add and subtract vs. complicated multiplication and long division.  My high school physics teacher actually spent a day or two teaching us how to use slide rules back in the early 1980’s.  By then they had been made functionally obsolete by scientific calculators, so looking back it was perhaps more about nostalgia than the math needed.  It does help me to appreciate the accomplishments made in science and engineering before the advent of numerical computing.

The preparation of this article has made me wonder what the guys and gals who used these tools proficiently back in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s would think if they had access to the kind of compute power we have available today.  It also makes me wonder what people will think of our current tools 50 or 60 years from now.  When I first started in simulation over 25 years ago, it would have seemed quite a stretch to be able to solve simultaneously on hundreds if not thousands of compute cores as can be done today.  Back then we were happy to get time on the one number cruncher we had that was dedicated to ANSYS simulation.

Incidentally, this article was inspired by my colleague David Mastel’s recent blog entry on numerical simulation and how PADT is helping our customers take compute servers and work stations to the next level:

http://www.padtinc.com/blog/the-focus/launch-leave-forget-hpc-and-it-ansys

If you are ever in our PADT headquarters building in Tempe, don’t forget to look for the giant slide rule.  Now you will know its original purpose.

PADT Company Pictures Through the Years

As we get ready to launch the new website and the new blog, I find myself looking back on PADT’s 18 year history.  While looking for some lab pictures I found a directory buried about 6 levels down on my C:\ drive called “CompanyPictures”  And inside are all of the pictures that we have kept over the years. After looking at them I thought it might be fun to put them out there on the Blog.

Unfortunately we did not think to take a picture till 2000. So we were already 6 years old.  Since then we only missed 2004.  Take a look. Maybe you recognize someone you used to work with here, maybe you used to work here.  Let us know what you think in the comments.

PADT_2000_a
2000
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