Date: Thu, 1 Dec 2011 13:59:12 -0500

Subject: My GAP experience

From: William Laudeman

To: K2W at


In 1956 I was a tech in the Test Instrumentation group, with GE's Aircraft Gas Turbine division in Cincinnati (Evendale) Ohio. We were simulating some of the engine control test functions using op-amps and Philbrick "black-cube" modules.

By 1961 I had moved to Procter & Gamble to work in the Instruments and Controls section of the Engineering Development division, then located at the company's Miami Valley Laboratories. Because of my past experience with Philbrick, I was selected to head the analog computing effort there, where we simulated control systems being developed for use in P&G's many production facilities which ranged from detergents to paper products to edible oil refineries.

About 1963, another engineer and I were asked to produce papers outlining the best systems for computation -- I argued for analog systems due to the complexity of the analyses and the high frequency components of much of our data. My associate was assigned digital computation, using the then-available 8-bit, punched-paper-tape fed machines. As you can guess, the analog systems were greatly superior on that day . . . but the future was just around the corner.

To this day I'd love to know where all of those Philbrick black boxes went, when the first IBM digital computers were purchased. At the time I didn't care because I was too busy learning to program machine language 16-bit variable word length digital computers. Ah - and then IBM allowed us to "try" their latest advance - Fortran. We never looked back.

But I still fondly remember GAP's little black cubes, resistors and capacitors on dual-banana-plugs, miles of black and red test wire, signal generators and oscilloscope patterns.

   Bill Laudeman


I found it! This was one of the "process control simulation" computer setups we used in the "Instruments Development Section" of Procter & Gamble's Engineering Development Division about 1959 or 1960.

Let me know if you want more information -- my recollection may be a bit fuzzy after 52 years, but I loved that stuff then, so I still have some fond memories. 

The initials on the cart, "MVL" = Miami valley Labs; which was then the advanced research facility for all divisions of the company.