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The Technology Graveyard

Here we remember cool technology of the past. This is by no means a comprehensive history, but we thought we'd try to put something together before our memories get any foggier than they are. If anyone has any submissions, corrections, pictures, or additional information, please let us know.

For information on older models of large and wide format scanners that will still work on a modern computer, click here (middle of page).


The Visicon System

This system dates back to 1970, and was the first commercial large format scanner. Visicon was founded in State College, PA by Document Management's founder, Richard Stover. The Visicon system consisted of a drum-type scanner that output to computer tape. It utilized Reticon's newly developed CCD chip, which was one inch long and had a resolution of 100DPI. The CCD array was passed over the drawing as it spun on the drum. It's an understatement to say that this system was way ahead of its time and market. Nobody got rich from Visicon, but it sure was fun! Mark wasn't allowed to take any of them apart at the time. But he fondly

Visicon Workstation
The Visicon System circa 1970.

remembers checking out all the cool components of the hand-built systems as he mopped the floors and emptied the trash. Visicon merged with Broomall Industries of Broomall, PA in 1973.

The Broomall Industries System

Broomall Industries was founded by Andrew Trolio. In the mid 1970s, they developed scanning and raster-to-vector solutions for the Department of Defense's mapping division. These systems were used to digitize maps for the Cruise Missile project up until

the early 1990s. The original scanners were made from modified large format flatbed plotters. Broomall Industries later became known as Scangraphics, who produced top-of-the-line large format scanning solutions up until around 1995.

Laserscan
Laserscan is a British company that started making film scanners in the early 1970s. The original design used (yes, you guessed it) a laser to capture the data.
They primarily targeted the Mapping/GIS market. One of their more famous solutions was used to digitize maps for the successful Falkland Islands invasion.

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