Thursday, October 26, 2006

Old Tech Too!

As the WPL alpha geek I'm obligated to admire the newest and coolest electronic gadgets. But I'm also an old farmer who grew up with, and worked for decades on, old-fashioned electro-mechanical equipment. The public elevator house of the Waterloo Public Library, with its massive relays and mechanical switches is fascinating to guys like me.

The elevator's travel is controlled by the switchboard that you see on the wall behind the cable wheel. When someone on the first floor hits the call button, that information is stored on the board and the "logic" of the system decides whether the car stops, or passes, a floor as it delivers its riders.

Modern elevator control systems are the size of a loaf of bread, but do pretty much the same thing with about the same level of reliability. This device was last over-hauled in the 1950s and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President when the major hardware is installed. Will the fancy electronic controls still be working when Chelsea Clinton turns 70? Maybe, but maybe not.

The Waterloo Public Library is a fascinating place--inside and out!

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