Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Relics Of An Analog (Military) World
Digital is highly over-rated! There is definitely the case for digital in the modern world -- from computers to automobiles to common household items. Submarines are no exception in terms of precision and accuracy of their guidance, navigation and weapons systems. However, in terms of form and function, analog certainly meets the minimum set of requirement. These gauges are from the WWII vintage submarine USS Bowfin, docked in Pearl Harbor as a public exhibit. I could not help but notice how I miss those days when gauges and meters were strictly analog -- no LEDs, no LCDs and certainly, no GUIs. Analog is intuitive. Needle is in the middle of the scale, all things look good. Unlike digital, there is no need for that microsecond of human brain processing a numeric display to determine if something is good or bad. The casings for these analog gauges were just a beautiful as the dials themselves. A lot are encased in brass or copper -- as opposed to those more modern digital displays wrapped in polished aluminum or molded plastic. And one can almost argue that for the era, these analog gauges did their job in terms of supporting the mission, i.e. fighting the Japanese in WWII. On record, the USS Bowfin sank 40 Japanese merchant marine ships and 4 Japanese warships.