Reflections

A BRIEF WORD


| March/April 1992



Lauson Military Engine

27/3/3

Alan Torkelson

Rumor mills are always busy, and a new one seems to be afoot. Several readers have called us asking about a rumor that GEM is quitting business! Apparently some of this rumor is a result of computer problems at GEM. This past autumn, the folks at GEM changed over to an entirely different computer system. The result has been that some subscribers haven't received their copies of GEM on time, and some may not have received their copies at all. If you have been thus affected, by all means write to GEM at Box 328, Lancaster, PA 17603 at once! GEM is certainly not going out of business, and it is the intent of Steam gas Publishing that every single subscriber receive every issue. Be sure to let them know exactly which issues you haven't received. In talking with the folks at GEM, they have told us that the computer changeover was indeed the nightmare they were afraid of, and in some cases, even worse. Again, we emphasize, that if your copies have not been received, let them know at once!

Ye olde Reflector has been using a computer for over ten years now, and as computer users know, these electronic marvels can also be a royal pain in the elbow at times. The simple fact is that, without the computer, we would be unable to produce nearly as much material as we do now, despite the occasional glitch. Likewise, GEM and other publications would be far more expensive to produce were it not for the computer. For example, subscription lists were formerly kept on individual file cards, and each mailing label was punched out by hand on a metal Addressograph plate. By comparison, the computer automatically keeps track of subscriptions, and is able to spit out a set of labels in a matter of minutes. So, if you have an occasional problem due to the computer, bear in mind that without it, each issue of GEM would be substantially more expensive to produce.

Until the 1890s, everything that was published was done with hand-set type, one letter at a time. This included newspapers too! Along came Mergenthaler with his Linotype, and whole lines were cast with his amazing machine. It put a great many typesetters out of a job. All was well until the 1950s when the change was begun to offset presses. This eliminated the need for the Linotype, and it wasn't long until a $6,000 Linotype machine could be bought for scrap metal prices. All sorts of high-priced phototypesetters were built in the following years, and now we are in the midst of a changeover to desktop publishing that permits complete composition of the printed page on a computer terminal. Scanners now permit an operator to pick up an image and place it directly on a screen where it is digitized, bit-mapped, or whatever, and finally ends up on a press plate. Chances are that what we see as state-of-the-art technology today will soon become obsolete.

Hasn't this been the case with virtually all technology? Look at the development of the internal combustion engine a century ago. From the huge cast iron machines of decades ago, we now have aluminized, anodized, case hardened, and heat treated engines with electronic ignition and fuel injection. To reiterate, if you are having problems in getting your regular issues of GEM, drop them a line so that they are aware of the difficulty and everything can be straightened out!

We begin this issue with:

27/3/1 Alpha/De Laval Colors Q. In the October 1991 GEM the question was raised concerning the proper colors for the Alpha engines. 1 have a color brochure that illustrates it in an odd shade of green. Any further information will be appreciated. John E. Wiebe, 911 W. 4thSt., Newton, KS 67114.