1988: A Year in Review

Here's a brief look at what was going on around the world in 1988. Also, find some feature articles that are still relevant today.


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In 1988, George H. W. Bush had been elected the 41th president of the United States. The Soviet Union was still intact. Germany was a divided country. In the U.S., a gallon of gas cost around a dollar. “Cheers” and “The Cosby Show” were TV hits.
At work, “business casual” was rare. Computer technology focused on the emerging personal computer, that is, the IBM PC-AT running MS-DOS or the Macintosh II. Data was transported on 5 ½-inch floppy disks. 
In metalworking, using punched tape for NC programs was still common. Laser cutting and waterjet were on the scene. MAP (manufacturing automation protocol) was being promoted as the standard for interconnectivity on the shop floor (it fizzled). Quick-change tooling was being introduced. SPC (statistical process control) was still a novel concept.
A quick look at the world of metalworking as revealed in the pages of Modern Machine Shop gives a more detailed picture. (Remember, widespread use of the Internet was still seven or eight years away. We do not have online archives from 1988, so we scanned in the following links.)
Modern Machine Shop was celebrating the 60th anniversary of its first issue. In 1988, the average issue had a total of 300 pages. The August IMTS issue had 543 pages. The magazine was still digest sized (we moved to the larger, tech-manual size in 2008).
The Westec show was marking its 25th anniversary as the West Coast premier technology show.
Our editor-in-chief, Ken Gettelman, was fretting about the negative image of manufacturing in general society.
What were we writing about? Here are some representative titles:
High Speed Milling is on the Way
Spindles that will deliver 10 to 150 hp at 10,000 to 60,000 rpm promise to revolutionize how industry mills away large volumes of metal.
Dros: Moving Beyond X, Y, Z
Today's generation of digital readouts are a low-cost way to automate manual machines. DROs can provide pre-programmed part routines, manipulate data and facilitate operator involvement in process control.
The Rewards and Demands of Hard-Part Turning
Turning or mailing of parts up to 65 Rc can eliminate grinding and enhance a part’s resistance to wear and corrosion. However, keen attention must be paid to all elements of the process to obtain desired results.
FMS Technology Today: Friendlier, Maturing, Successful
With the technical problems of flexible manufacturing systems mostly behind us, the focus of attention is now turning to human factors and management issues.
Strategic Planning for CIM
Computer-integrated manufacturing should be approached in discrete steps, but with a vision of how all the pieces will ultimately fit together.
NC Verification: Taking a Closer Look
Verification of numerical control (NC) programs was one of the many important developments in computer-aided Manufacturing software getting attention at the recent AutoFact show.  Simulating the motion of a program cutting tool on a computer screen is the key.