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Publication numberUS3623067 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 23, 1971
Filing dateOct 14, 1969
Priority dateOct 14, 1969
Publication numberUS 3623067 A, US 3623067A, US-A-3623067, US3623067 A, US3623067A
InventorsJoseph D Deal Jr, George A Taylor
Original AssigneeNewport News S & D Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Display system for communicating data among units in diverse areas
US 3623067 A
Previous page
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 72] Inventors Joseph D. Deal, Jr.

Newport News; George A. Taylor, Hampton, both of Va. [21 Appl. No. 866,255 [22] Filed Oct. 14,1969 [45] Patented Nov. 23, 1971 [73] Assignee Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company Newport News, Va.

[54] DISPLAY SYSTEM FOR COMMUNICATING DATA AMONG UNITS IN DIVERSE AREAS 42 Claims, 13 Drawing Figs. [52] US. Cl 340/324 R, 340/153, 235/92 AC [51] int. Cl G06t 3/14 [50] Field ofSearch 340/153, 324, 334; 178/4.1 B,4.l C; 235/92 AC; 186/1 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,622,142 12/1952 Jackel 340/153 3,071,753 1/1963 Fritze et al 340/153 3,484,748 12/1969 Greenblum et a1. 340/153 3,500,327 3/1970 Belcher et al 340 324 lNTERFACE MASTER PANEL (DNTROL UNIT ROUTING MEANS INTERFACE Primary Examiner-John W. Caldwell Assistant Examiner-Marshall M. Curtis Attorney-Shoemaker and Mattare ABSTRACT: A display system including plural master area display panels and multiple mutually distant display areas all having a number of display panels which can be selectively routed through a trunkline network to become associated with a particular master panel to receive display data. The slave panels retain the address of the associated master panel. and all panels which have been occupied by data relating to a particular transaction can then be decoupled from the display data lines of the network and left to display their data while these same lines are used to transfer data relating to another transaction to other selected panels, there being many available panels in each area. The occupied slave panels though decoupled from the data lines of the network, can still answer back to an associated master panel to indicate status of the transaction via other network lines which are connected in parallel to all master panels and which use the address of the associated master panel to enable the latters answer back gating means. The system is responsive to encoded-format data and command signals from suitable input sources which communicate the data to the panels and control its routing either by accessing occupied panels by address, or else by searching out unoccupied panels to receive new data.



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This invention relates to a data communicating and display system of the type employing a trunkline network selectively connecting a master area with diverse slave areas on a time sharing noninterfering basis to display information from any encoded-format data source at selected display panels in the various areas and to communicate status among these panels, the same network being used in the display of data on different panels in the same areas so that the system can perform plural unrelated transactions programmed consecutively while displaying data relating to many of them simultaneously.

The invention will be described against a general environmental background wherein information programmed by a suitable source of data and command signals is coupled to a master area having multiple display panels within sight of system-operating personnel and wherein appropriate portions of said data are routed to plural slave areas where the data is displayed to personnel using selected ones of multiple slave panels available at each area. The panels in the master and slave areas when occupied by display data representing a particular programmed transaction can be disconnected from the data transferring lines in the network, leaving the occupied panels to continue their displays and permitting these network lines to be used in the performance of a new and unrelated transaction involving different display panels in the various slave and master areas. Although disconnected from the data transferring lines of the network, the panels are still interconnected by other network lines in a way permitting them to signal status of the related transaction among themselves without interfering with another transaction currently being programmed from said source. The input data and commands can be introduced into the system using a wide variety of sources coupled through suitable commercially available interface means to provide the system with fixed-format messages and commands. Examples of sources useful to initiate communication to the display system include punched or magnetic tape readers and punched card readers, the latter having the advantage of greater performance flexibility since the various transactions can be prepared on separate cards which can then be fed to the card reader in any desired sequence. Other sources include keyboard teletype devices, computer-initiated messages, etc. The display system illustrated in the practical embodiment set forth hereinafter em ploys punched tape and teletype machines delivering Baudot encoded data and commands to interface converter means which convert the serial Baudot code into parallel binary coded digital form which is then read out digit by digit to select, fill and control the various area display panels. The present display system is useful in a wide variety of applications such as warehousing, mail-order filling, ship or vehicle loading and unloading, debarkation of military supplies and weaponry from magazines of attack vessels or vehicles, collecting parts from storage areas to feed assembly lines in factories, displaying of weather conditions, instructions, and other vital information to initiate cooperation efforts by personnel assembled in diverse areas, for instance to pilots assembled in plural readyrooms preparing to fly assigned missions, etc.

it is an object of this invention to provide a system for the rapid transmission and display of information at selected mutually distant master and slave areas, together with the subsequent intercommunication of acknowledgements and/or status indications. The information is transmitted through a network oftrunklines having a relatively small number of conductors in such a way that, within certain broad limits, any desired number of diverse display areas may participate. Units can be added to or deleted from the system in a building-block fashion since the various units are to a large extent accessed in parallel rather than serially.

Another object is to provide a system in which each area includes a large number of display panels, suitable for mass viewing, and capable of simultaneously displaying information concerning a number of unrelated transactions, whereby the system can perform many tasks at once, so long as mutually associated display panels are accessed one transaction at a time, to either insert data or to change previously inserted data.

It is a further object of the invention to provide a system in which each transaction commences by the selection of one of the unoccupied panels at the master area, which master panel has a unique binary encoded address, and this address is then used to identify all of the distant location panels involved in the same transaction, those panels having means for remembering that address and using it both to recognize master panel for locally initiated report-back purposes. This use of local address memory and recognition at each panel is one factor contributing to system flexibility permitting the same network to perform many data transfers with respect to plural different transactions all displayed at once.

A further object of the invention is to provide a multiple area system having plural display panels at each area, some of which are usually occupied by display data and some of which may be unoccupied, and wherein each area when addressed by the master conducts its own search for a local panel displaying data relating to the same transaction, or alternatively, conducts a search for any empty panel which can then enter into the transaction. in either case, the local area reports successful accomplishment of this task, and this report enables the system to proceed to the next programmed step in the transaction.

Anotherobject of the invention is to provide an input source transmitting display data interspersed with command signals in a fixed-format message designed to cooperate with the structure of the display panels which include alphanumeric display devices, such as those which produce illuminated letters or numerals, and these devices being arranged on each display panel to form individual message fields having one or more digits. Typically, these include on the master display panels multiple digit fields identifying the transactions by order number or serial number, fields designating certain slave areas selected, type and/or quantity of items to be ordered from each area in a warehousing or debarkation application, destination and/or time of departure, mode of transportation, weather conditions, etc. In addition, associated with each designated slavefield, the master panel may include one or more indicators for status reporting to the master panel from the various slave panels, as well as controls for delivering messages, such as expedite" to associated slave panels. At the slave panels, there are alphanumeric display devices showing serial number, type and/or quantity ofitems ordered from that slave area, or information displays such as weather conditions, etc. In addition there are message indicators such as expedite" lights, and report-back actuators for operating status indicators at the master panels. The slave areas may also include departure areas, such as ordered-item assembly areas or debarkation points on shipboard or warehouse shipping rooms. These departure areas display transaction serial numbers, designations of storage slave-areas from which items are expected to come and types and/or quantities thereof, "expedite" lights, and status report actuators referred to the master panels. Moreover any of the slave stations can include remote repeater panels carrying at least a part of the information locally displayed in that area. The slave areas also include means to extinguish their displays and return them to unoccupied conditions when they report completion of their assigned functions.

Still a further object of the invention is to provide sourcecontrolled network routing of the outgoing data to the various panels, and the ability to disconnect and leave occupied panels to display the entered data. This outgoing routing is separate from slave panel controlled status report-back messages and addressing which uses separate network lines and logic so that status-reporting between panels never interferes with outgoing data to either the same panels or other panels.

A further object of the invention is to provide a system fed from a Baudot code message source, and including multiple slave and master panel areas, wherein each area has its own interface means to decode the Baudot messages connected to all the interface means. These decoded messages then select areas, select panels, occupy them with data, and extinguish them to return to unoccupied status when the transaction is completed. The illustrated system shows the use of teletype keyboard machines and automatic punched program machines feeding network lines with encoded messages including both display data and commands, the function and punctuation outputs of these machines are used as command readouts to the system, and the alphanumeric outputs thereof contain the display data.

It is an object of the invention to provide responses from the panels accessed to control pausing of the automatic program machine until the panels are ready for each next step, having completed the one previously commanded.

Another object of the invention is to provide a system in which previously occupied and disconnected panels can be again accessed and reconnected to the data display lines of the network in response to intervention by the keyboard source means, which interrupts the automatic source means at any one of multiple predetermined permissible points in the message format, and takes over control of the system until it again relinquishes it to the automatic source means. During manual mode operation, the keyboard source can be used to access any master panel and reconnect to the network any slave panel associated with that master. Once this access is gained, the keyboard source means can then select any field or digit of a field in these panels and extinguish the data contained therein and enter new data, without changing the other fields.

Another object of the invention is to provide the system with a recording unit which records chronologically all entries into the system from both the automatic mode and the manual mode sources to provide a precise history of all display data and commands relating to all transactions handled by the system.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent during the following description of one practical embodiment illustrated in the drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a diagram showing the general layout of one practical embodiment of the system;

FIG. 2 is a front view ofa master panel;

FIG. 3 is a front view of a debarkation area panel;

FIG. 4 is a front view ofa cargo area panel;

FIG. 5 is a front view of a remote repeater panel;

FIG. 6 is a drawing showing how subsequent figures should be arranged to form a complete block diagram of the system;

FIGS. 7, 8, 9, I0, 11, 12 and 13 when placed relative to each other in the manner shown in FIG. 6, form one complete block diagram of the system.

The drawings illustrate a practical embodiment of the invention for use aboard a ship carrying cargo in different holds, each of the holds carrying cargo of one particular type. The present system is intended to off-load materials as well as ,personnel from the ship, for instance in preparation for an assault upon a beachhead.

The ship is assumed to have several different debarkation areas located in different parts of the ship to which the ordered material must be sent from the cargo holds in order to meet a certain time of arrival at the debarkation area selected. The ordering of the material from the cargo holds and its routing aboard the ship is controlled from a master panel area which includes means for accessing the various panels in the cargo and debarkation areas, this accessing being in the form either of an automatic prerecorded program tape, or in the form of manually inserted information which must be entered by the operator into the system on a selective-destination basis from a suitable keyboard instrument. Thus, the system includes a master area, mutually distant cargo areas and debarkation areas, and means for routing the information among these areas as desired.

Referring now to FIG. i, this figure shows a suitable overall system including input equipment serving as the source of information necessary either for display purposes or for command signal purposes. These source devices comprise an automatic tape reader 20 connected to a input Baudot code line 21, and in addition includes a manual mode input keyboard in the fonn of a teletype writer 22 also connected to the input line 21. In addition, the input line is advantageously connected to a history tape recorder 23 which prepares a chronological recording of all display and command signals appearing on the input line 21 so as to provide a history of all information carried by the system. In the present example, the teletype equipment 22, tape reader 20 and tape punch 23 referred to are of standard type and comprise purchased items which operate in response to various display and command signals in Baudot code appearing on the input line 21. This is a serial code, and must, therefore, be converted by suitable interface converters 24, 25, 26, 27, 23 and 29, into a parallel format that the illustrative embodiment of the present system can accept. In the present system this format is parallel binary-coded-decimal (B C D), and The B C D output from each of these interface converters is fed into any one of the master unit, or into a cargo area unit or a debarkation area unit, as shown in FIG. 1. The precise nature of the signals going into the above-mentioned units will be discussed in greater detail in connection with FIGS. 7 through 13 of the drawings, but for present purposes it is sufiicient to state that the B C D signals include both display data and command signals coming either from the automatic mode or the manual mode means 20 or 22.

In broad terms, the present system seeks to accomplish two purposes, firstly, to display information at panels of the master unit and at various cargo area units and at a debarkation area unit to thereby inform the personnel located at the various units as to which materials are to be assembled for departure from the ship, and when; and secondly, to report back from the various cargo areas and the debarkation area to inform the master area of the status of that particular transaction, and eventually of its completion so that the various display panels can be reset and made ready to participate in another transaction. In general, it is assumed that each of these transactions is essentially unrelated to other transactions in progress, each of which is identified by a unique serial number, these serial numbers being displayed at the various panels involved in carrying out the particular transaction. The transaction identified by a particular serial number can be either further defined in greater detail by a written bill of materials or goods to be supplied, copies of which may be in the hands of the various personnel located at the distant display units; or alternatively all information necessary at the cargo and debarkation areas may be displaced by the present system when expanded somewhat beyond the present illustration. For purposes of simplifying the present illustration, it will be assumed that each serial number which is displayed corresponds with a written bill of materials in the hands of the operating personnel located in the various cargo and debarkation areas so that the display of the serial number informs the personnel as to precisely the nature of the item or material being requested via the display panels. Therefore, at the cargo and debarkation areas in the present illustration only serial numbers and quantities of materials being ordered will be displayed.

As pointed out above, the system is capable of performing many different transactions by displaying the information relating to each at different display panels in the various areas effected. Therefore, as shown in FIG. 1, there will be a number of master panels coupled to a single master panel control unit 30 and comprising the panels 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35. The automatic and manual information sources 20 and 22 will access only one of these panels at a time and only one of these master panels for each different transaction as represented by a unique serial number. FIG. 2 shows a typical master area panel 31 which will be described hereinafter in more detail. Moreover, each cargo area unit, such as the unit 40 shown in cargo area number 5 will include plural cargo area panels of the type shown in FIG. 4 at 43 and in FIG. I at 41, 42, 43 and 44. Each of these panels can become associated with a particular master panel 31, 32,...35, and while associated therewith will display information relating to a particular transaction as represented by a particular serial number. Likewise, each debarkation area unit such as the unit 50, FIG. 1, includes plural debarkation panels 51, 52, 53 and 54, a typi cal panel 53 being illustrated in FIG. 3. There will be as many debarkation area units as there are debarkation areas aboard the ship to which cargo can be sent. For instance, the debarkation area number 1 may comprise the well deck of a ship, and the debarkation area number 2 may comprise the flight deck of a ship so that in the latter case the ordered material will depart by aircraft, whereas in the former case the material will debark aboard smaller vessels. Thus, these several types of possible debarkation vehicles will also be displayed on the panels located in the master area and the debarkation area, it being understood that there may be a number of different types of transportation vehicles available, such as different types of landing barges or different types of aircraft. In view of the fact that each cargo area and each debarkation area may well comprise a plurality of different rooms or compartments, it may also be desirable to provide a plurality of remote repeater panels such as the panels 45 and 55 which can be viewed by personnel aside from the officers actually operating the various cargo and debarkation area units.

Since each master panel 31-35 handles only a single transaction, at any moment it is necessary that it be selectively coupled with a uniquely associated panel in each of the participating cargo or debarkation areas involved with that serial number. The routing means 60 perfonns this function and also controls the automatic feed of the tape through tape control circuitry 61 by which the tape is restarted when a required step of the program has been completed so as to read out an additional step and then have its forward motion halted while the readout step is being performed and until the command unit answers back that it has completed the function.

All cargo areas and all debarkation areas may not necessarily be involved in any particular transaction as represented by a certain serial number. Therefore the manual mode means 22 or the automatic mode means must select which cargo holds are involved and which debarkation areas are involved. In general, the system operates to select an unoccupied master panel 31-35 whenever a new transaction has begun. Then the input means selects certain cargo holds storing the particular material to be ordered and selects one of the debarkation stations as a destination. Each cargo area selected through its cargo area control unit 40 scans the available panels 4l44 in search of an empty panel and when it finds such a panel it connects it through the routing means to the master panel involved with that transaction. This process is repeated again for the selection of a debarkation area 51-54. When all of these panels have been selected. and are connected through the routing means to the master panel handling that transaction, the system begins to enter the required data, one display field at a time and one digit at a time, these entries being simultaneously made in all connected and associated panels.

Referring now to FIG. 2, suppose that at the beginning of the transaction the master panel control unit found that master panel 28 was unoccupied and therefore available. It would then connect to the network this master panel (as shown in FIG. 2) to receive data. Having selected a master panel, the tape control 61 then starts the tape reader again. The tape then reads out the numbers of particular cargo areas to be accessed and the master panels displays the areas selected in field 310, while the routing means actuates the control units in these areas to find suitable display panels. Suppose the system selects cargo areas 1, 2, 5 and 6 and illuminates lamps behind ground glass plates bearing these numbers in field 31a. Next, the program reads out which of the debarkation areas is to be involved, number one in this particular example, which number is then made to appear in field 31b, and the routing means then actuates the first debarkation area unit to select a local panel. When all selected panels have been coupled to the network, the serial number of the transaction, for instance 319628 is then read into fields 31c, 53c, 43c and 45c. Next, the estimated time of departure will be entered into the panels of fields 31d and 53d, but displayed only at the master area panel, FIG. 2, and at the debarkation area panel, FIG. 3, namely, 16.5 hours. Next, the system reads out the quantity of items required from the various cargo areas designated, namely cargo holds 1, 2, 5 and 6, and these quantities will appear in fields 31e, 31f, 3li and 3lj, each of which has two digits. The other fields, 31g and 3111, relating to cargo holds 3 and 4 remain vacant since nothing is ordered from those holds according to this serial number. These quantity numbers are also repeated at the debarkation area in six similar display fields, 53c through 53j respectively, but at the individual cargo area panels only the quantity affecting that particular cargo area is displayed. Since the cargo area panel 43 represents cargo hold number 5 it will display the numeral 17 as the quantity in its frame 431'. The repeater panel 45 which is connected in parallel with the cargo hold panel 43 will display the serial number in field 45c and quantity in field 451'. The remote repeater panel 55, however, will be similar to the panel 53 and will display the serial number of the transaction, and possible the six different cargo area quantities to be supplied.

Thus, in effect all of the panels associated with that particular serial number transaction are connected in parallel with each other through the routing means and through the converter interfaces 24 through 29 inclusive to receive data from the automatic or manual sources. Having once received that data, the incoming data lines are then disconnected, and the panels are left to continue the display of their information. However, they are still able to communicate with each other for the limited purpose of answering back the status of the orders called for by their common transaction. The answer-back uses a different network of lines through the routing means than the data entry used, and the manner of its performance will be discussed in connection with FIGS. 7 through 13.

Finally, in the last field 31!.- the system can enter the designation of a particular type of transportation to be used in transporting the materials from the debarkation area panel, such as a small boat, ship, aircraft, fighter plane, etc., and a coded designation will be displayed in this field to indicate which type of vehicle. For instance, the numeral 4 could be used to indicate a certain class of aircraft, or even a certain flight. This number will be shown only at the master area panel in field 31k and at the debarkation area panel in field 53/.- in view of the fact that the type of transportation of the goods is of no interest to the personnel in the cargo areas. ,I

The precise sequence of events and the means by which the various panels are selected and coupled to the network to receive data or to return the information will be discussed in connection with FIGS. 7 through 13 in which the means to perfonn these functions is illustrated in more detail.

The operation of the present system can be understood with reference to FIGS. 7, 8, 9, 10, I1, 12 and 13 when assembled in the manner shown in FIG. 6 to form a simplified circuit diagram. However, it is also necessary to understand the message format which is used by the system. As stated above, access may be had either in an automatic mode of operation, for instance using tape reader 20 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 9, or else in the manual mode using the teletype keyboard machine 22. The system is either in one mode or the other. The automatic mode will be described first, and assumes that a preprogrammed tape has been made and is presently being read out through the tape reader 20. Its message comprises display data readout in increments by the tape reader interspersed with command signals necessary to instruct the system as what to do with the data being read. The command signals and the data do not flow continuously from the tape reader 20, but are started and stopped by a tape control 61 located in FIG. 9 also. The tape control 61 is necessary to cause the readout by the tape reader 20 to pause at times and await confirmation from the system that the latest command has been carried out, in view of the fact that certain commands may not be capable of execution immediately. For example, when all panels are occupied the system has to await the release of a panel before it can proceed with a new transaction to be entered.

FIG. 9, and parts of FIG. and 12 show the routing means 60 which includes the tape control 61, and in addition serves to route the wires in the network among the various units which are shown in the portions of the drawings surrounding the routing means. FIG. 7 shows the master panel control unit 30, and to the right of it FIG. 8 shows a typical master display panel No. 28, only one being shown. The groups of wires extending downwardly from FIG. 7 into FIGS. 10, 9 and 12 comprise the network joining the various units together, usually through the routing means. To the right in FIG. 10 is located debarkation area control unit 50, and to the right in FIG. 11 are illustrated several debarkation display panels, No. 53 of which is shown in some detail. Below FIG. 10, FIG. 12 shows the various six cargo areas, with cargo area number 5 being shown in greater detail. Still further to the right in FIG. 13 are shown a series of cargo display panels which are all associated with cargo area No. 5, and one of these display panels No. 43 is shown in some detail.

The leftmost line extending downwardly through FIGS. 7, 9, and 12 is the Baudot code line 21 providing input to the system from the teletype 22 and tape reader this line extending to the various interface converters 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29. These interface decoders are purchased items which accept the serial Baudot code from the teletype and tape reader machines and convert this code, using logic including gates and flip-flops, into binary encoded output signals, which comprise the B C D data display and address signals appearing in the second group of network wires labeled 200, and comprise a plurality of hard-wired command signals which appear on the lines 202 which are also located in the network. These latter wires comprise the command signals which control the actual functioning of this system these functions having been arbitrarily assigned to certain standard teletype symbols and can be defined as the following functions:

Carriage Return Indicates start of panel entry ofa new transaction Indicutes automatic entry mode, in

which the master panel assembly is directed to find an empty. master panel Commences, the later ends. the

intervals during which slave anels such as cargo panels and deburkation panels are addressed.

Steps panels to the next information field.

When used causes an expedite lamp to blink on accessed panels.


Line Feed Space Exclamation Mark of operation in which mode it can only address the history tape recorder 23.

Extinguishes a presently addressed field on the master and slave panels. Extinguishes the addressed sluve panel.

Question Mark Bell AUTOMATIC MODE ENTRY Commencing now with a description of the manner of entering data on to panels, the first function of the system is to determine whether manual or automatic mode entry will be made. The system for performing this function is shown near the center of FIG. 7. As pointed out above, a carriage return signal applied to line 21 by a tape reader 20, decoded by the interface 24 and appearing on wire 300 is the first signal in the entry of a new transaction. This signal sets the flip-flop 302 to provide an output which enables respective inputs to the AND-gates 30 3 and 306. As the tape reader 20 progresses, if this carriage return signal on wire 300 is followed by a dash on wire 308, the flip-flop 310 is then set which enables one input to the AND-gate 312. The dash signal on wire 308 also resets the flip-flop 302. However, during the brief instant when both flip-flops 302 and 310 are set, the gate becomes enabled and places a pulse on wire 211 which travels through cable 202 to the bottom of FIG. 9, passes through OR-gate 101 and resets flip-flop 102 to stop the drive through driver 103 and halt the tape reader 20. The lower input 378 to the AND-gate 312 in FIG. 7 is energized whenever a panel, as shown in FIG. 8 and described later, is occupied, so that when the wire 311 becomes energized to the AND-gate 312 an output signal appears on the wire 313 if the panel being interrogated at that moment is already occupied. A panel step counter 314 is used to address the panels one at a time to determine whether or not they are occupied. Assuming for example that there are 40 panels at the master station, anyone of which can be accessed for data entry, the step counter 314 steps through these panels one at a time in an effort to determine whether or not they are occupied. For example, panel 28 is shown in F IG. 8. Therefore, when the panel counter 314 counts 28" and the decoder 303 recognizes this count, it puts out a signal on wire 3030 to enable one input to the gate 315. The other input to gate 315 also enabled by output from amplifier 301 on wire 301a, and therefore an output passes from gate 315, through OR-gate 372 to turn on flip-flop 373 and close the relay 375 through the driver 374, thereby connecting the occupied line 378 to the gate 312 to step the panel counter 314 to the next panel. If panel No. 28 is occupied, the signal on wire 378 will pass through enabled gate 305 and OR-gate 307 and reset flip-flop 373 to open relay 375 and immediately release panel No. 28. Moreover when the panel being interrogated is occupied, the signal appearing briefly on the wire 378 in the vicinity of gate 312 in FIG. 7, and present only until the relay 375 can physically open, will pass through the AND-gate 312 and provide a pulse on the wire 313, which pulse will pass through the OR-gate 316 to step the panel counter 314 to the next panel, in search of an unoccupied panel. The process will be repeated if the next panel is occupied, but if it is unoccupied no signal will appear on the wire 378 and therefore the step counter 314 will cease stepping, and an empty master unit panel will have been found.

In the present illustrative example, assume that the panel 28 shown in FIG. 8 is unoccupied and that therefore the panel counter 314 stops stepping from panel to panel when it adv dresses No. 28. Thus, in the automatic mode an empty master panel No. 28 has been selected automatically by a carriage return followed by a dash, but the tape reader 20 is still stopped. Panel No. 28 has now had its relay 375 closed placing it online" with the network 200 and 202, but its occupied line 378 is still indicating unoccupied" status. This unoccupied status signal passes downwardly on wire 378 through the cable 202 and through an inverter 104 and an OR-gate 105 to enable one input to AND-gate 106. The other input is continuously enabled via the wire 107 which is a wire coupled to the tape reader to indicate it is not disconnected. Therefore, the inverted unoccupied signal on wire 378 sets the flip-flop 102 and again starts the tape reader 20.

The tape reader reads out a first Iinefeed signal which is decoded on wire 318 by the interface converter 24. The digit counter 317 is reset by the pulse from the linefeed 318 which also returns the flip-flop 310 to reset condition and blocks further counting by the panel counter 314.

The manual mode of operation will be described hereinafter the end of this specification.

Aboaass Looic As pointed out above, the master panel unit 30 has a larger number of individual panels, for instance 40. Each one of these panels has its own binary encoded address, requiring six wires to conduct the address since there are more than 32 such panels. The six wires carrying the address of whichever master panel is online at any particular moment are grouped together to form the network group 36%, and this binary address is generated by a hard-wired series of gates forming the encoder 352. It will be recalled that the relay 375 is energized by the set flip-flop 373, and that the tape reader 20 has just read out its first linefeed signal on wire 318. This signal reset the flip-flop 314), and now sets the flip-flop 377 to generate an occupied" signal on wire 378. This signal together with the output from flip-flop 3733 enables the gate 376 and places an entry in progress" signal continuously on wire 363, which actuates the address encoder 362. to continuously apply the master panel addrem on wires 366. This address also appears in the cable 361) at the routing means in FIG. and 112 to be used in the manner hereinafter described. The binary encoded number delivered by the present encoder 352, FlG. 8, is the number 28 corresponding with the particular panel illustrated in H6. 8. The other panels will, of course, have differently wired encoders to provide different individual master panel address numbers.

The first linefeed signal on wire 3118 travels downwardly in network cable 22 into H6. 9 and to the tape feed logic 6i. Assuming that both flip-flops lltiii and W9 are initially reset, the linefeed signal on wire 318 will set the flip-flop 108 through the gate illtl' whose upper input is enabled because the flip-flop 10% is still reset, a condition which occurs only during the first linefeed. The latter also directly sets flip-flop 109, but it does not set flip-flop ll 19 through gate 114 because of the delay H3. The setting of the flip-flop 108 energizes wire 124 and thereby enables all six of the cargo area address decoders 151i, ll52, l53, 154, 155 and R56 to recognize the B C D encoded cargo hold addresses when they appear on network cable 260. The tape reader 2b does not stop after reading out the first linefeed, but proceeds to read out addresses of cargo areas to be affected by the present transaction. In the present example, it is assumed for illustrative purposes that cargo areas 1, 2, 5 and 6 are to be addressed, and the tape reader proceeds directly to read out these four encoded addresses. The addresses are recognized from the E C D lines 200 by the decoders 151, 152, E55 and H56, which respectively put out signals on the wires 157, 158, 159 and 160 as the decoders respond to their addresses. These signals set the flipflops 161, E62, 165 and 166, whose outputs into network cable 602 travel downwardly into FIG. l2 and close the relays 167, 168, I69, and 170, thereby coupling the master panel No. 28 address from lines 360 into cargo area control units 1, 2, 5 and 6, area unit No. 5 being shown in detail in FIGS. 12 and 13. The relays 167, 168, 16% and 37b remain closed until flip-flops MI, 362, 165 and 166 in FIG. 9 are reset as explained hereinafter. The other nonaddressed cargo areas 3 and 4 are not supplied with the master panel address appearing on wires 360 because their flip flops 163 and 164 were not set.

The second linefeed is supplied right after the last cargo hold address without stopping the tape a the reader 29, and this second linefeed appearing on wire 3.18 near the lower left comer of FIG. 9 resets flip-flop 308 through the enabled AND-gate Ill, thereby removing the signal from wire 124 and disabling the cargo address decoders i152 through 156, leaving the flip-flops I61, 162, E65 and 166 still set. Moreover, the second linefeed sets the flip-flop 1119 through the enabled gate M4. The setting of flip-flop H9, and the simultaneous resetting of flip-flop M8, operates to pass pulses through capacitors 120 and 126 and through the AND-gate 123 and the ORgate 124 to reset the flip-flop M32 and halt the tape reader 20. The output from the set flip-flop 119 also id travels upwardly to enable the debarkation area decoders 171 and 172, and downwardly to enable the AND-gate 112, for purposes that will be explained when the tape reader 20 is again started up.

With the tape reader 2b stopped, but the relays 167, 168, R69 and 370 still energized and connecting the master panel address lines 3% to the slave panel control units in cargo areas 1, 2, 5, and 6, it becomes necessary for each of these control units to select a slave panel and connect it through the routing means to master panel No. 23. it will be noted that there are a number of different available slave panels at each cargo area. And therefore each area must sweep through the available panels searching for a panel which is either already storing the address of master panel No. or which is unoccupied, and then. return a signal to t. e routing means indicating that it has found and connected an appropriate panel. This takes time, and during this interval of time the tape feed 20 stops and waits until it receives word from each selected cargo area that it has located and connected an empty panel.

In order to understand the manner in which each cargo area selects and connects its panel, cargo area No. 5 is shown in greater detail in FIGS. 12 and 13, and will now be described. The interface converter 26 shown in the middle of FIG. 12 is substantially the same as that shown for the master panels in FIG. 7, and is a purchased item available from a number of different companies. it takes in the Eaudot code appearing on line 21 when gate 620 is energized and delivers B C D signals including display data on the 3 Q D lines labeled 400, and delivers decoded command signals appearing on the network wires 401. The signals decoded and delivered for command purposes are labeled as they come out of the lower portion of interface 26 in FIG. 12.

Recalling that the flip-flop M5 in FIG. 9 is still set and selecting cargo area number 5, its output on wire l65a will enter the cable 6&2 and travel downwardly into FIG. 12 and set the flip-flop 616 to enable inputs to the gate 620 from the Baudot line 2i during subsequent readouts by the tape reader 20, which is at the present time stopped, however.

Referring to FIG. 12, assume as an initial condition that the flip-flop 492 is reset so that the gate 403 has its left input energized and is conductive for signals appearing at its right input. The panel address counter 409 is caused to begin stepping through the local slave panels one at a time by the structure of the command message. It will first energize its No. 1 output to close relay 451, then 452..., 453..., 45 i and soon until it has tried all eight available slave panels or been stopped by one. The counter 409 searches twice through the panels, first for a panel having the masters own address in its register 405, and failing that, it searches a second time for an available unoccupied panel. Suppose the counter 409 has searched through the first six panels without being stopped. As it reaches the seventh panel, FIG. l3, if this No. 7 panel has been previously occupied, it will have received through wires 36! and gate 404 an address ofa master panel which will have been stored in its register 405. This register M35, as well as register 502 in FIG. 11, is a parallel fed and accessed, nondestructive memory device which is cleared only by actuating its reset terminal R once it has been filled. The gate 4 34 will at the present time be blocked, however, and the register 4435 will be reading out its stored address of a master panel, if it has stored such an address into the bus 4%. When the counter 4G9 closes the relay 453, electric power will appear on wire 313 and trigger the one shot 414 to enable the gate 4i)? and deliver the stored ad dress to the comparator 498, which comprises 21 exclusive OR- gate At this time, during the initial search through the panels, the master panel will also be coupling its address to the comparator 408 through the bus 36% but not through the blocked gate 404.

The comparator 4% compares these addresses and delivers an output if they are the same, but if they differ, then it delivers no output on the coincidency wire 410. This output travels through the enabled gate 403 and steps the counter 409 to the next position through the OR-gate 411. If no match occurs in the coincidence comparator in panel No. 8 when relay 454 is closed, then the counter is stepped to its number 9 position in which an output on wire 409a sets the flip-flop 402, thereby blocking gate 403 and enabling gate 412 at its lefthand input to receive signals from a line 413 indicating whether a particular panel is occupied or unoccupied, as will be discussed hereinafter.

Each time a panel is found which is occupied, a pulse will be passed from the line 431 through the gate 412 and the OR- gate 411 to step the panel address counter 409 to the next available panel. When an empty panel is located, however, there will be no pulse on the occupied line 431, and therefore the address counter will stop at that unoccupied panel, and the search for an unoccupied panel will have been completed.

In this example, it is assumed that panels No. 1-6 are occupied, but that panel 7 is unoccupied, and therefore the relay 453 will become energized and will close the contacts at the input to cargo panel No. 7. The relay 453, which can in fact also be electronic logic means, connects the B C D network 400 and the command network 401 into the cargo panel No. 7 so that it can receive both commands and display data.

As soon as the relay 453 is closed, electric power connected by it to the wire 415 passes through a delay 416 sufi'lcient to exceed any contact bounce, and then is ANDed in the gate 417 to provide an output on wire 418 to start the tape readout by the automatic tape reader 20. The output via wire 418 goes into the cable 625 and up to a logic circuit 626 together with a wire from each of the other slave panel areas, all arriving on the cable 625. The logic circuit 626 has other inputs arriving via the cable 602. These tell the logic 626 which of the cargo areas have been selected by the decoders 151 through 156, and the wires arriving via cable 625 tell the logic circuit 626 which of these cargo areas have selected a panel and connected it on line. When the reporting areas match the selected areas, the logic circuit 626 delivers an output on wire 627 to start the tape reader 20. The closing of relay 453 also sends a linefeed through the interface 26 and on the wire 419 which sets the flip-flop 420, this constituting the first linefeed to the panel, although it is really the second linefeed to the system. The output from the flip-flop 420 in the set position enables the decoder 421 which later decodes which of the debarkation areas, number 1 or number 2 is to be illuminated.

In FIG. 9 the output wire 427 from the logic circuit 426 indicates that all designated cargo areas have found a suitable panel, and this signal passes through OR-gate 105, through the enabled AND-gate 106 and sets the flip-flop 102 to start the tape moving again. The tape now reads out an encoded designation of one debarkation area on the Baudot line 21 which is then translated by a converter 26 to a B C D encoded address on line 400 to the decoder 421. An output on the wires 422 or 423 determines which debarkation hold is called for by decoding the four-bit binary code entering the decoder 421. This decoding will illuminate either the numeral 1 or the numeral 2 in the debarkation field 43b. After the B C D signal has been sent by the tape readout on lines 400 to the decoder 421, a second linefeed is sent on wire 419 which resets the flip-flop 420 and disables the decoder 421 from changing its selection of a debarkation area. The wires 422 and 423 are connected to memories located within the decoder 421 so that the correct debarkation station remains illuminated in field 43b after the flip-flop 420 is reset by the second linefeed. The resetting places a signal on wire 424 which travels upwardly to enable the AND-gates 425 and 426 which serve to step the digit counter and field counters 427 and 42 respectively. Thus, it will be noted that the first locally received linefeed selected the debarkation field 43 b and that subsequent linefeeds select the other fields 43c, 43d and 432 which are individually stepped by the digit counter and field counter in the manner about to be described.

Having now selected a debarkation station, it is necessary for the circuitry shown in FIG. 10 to select an empty debarkation panel, and the manner in which this is accomplished will be described in connection with the discussion of FIGS. 10

and 11. Going back to FIG. 9, when the tape reader 20 reads out the debarkation area No. 1 address, for example, this B C D address appeared on lines 200 and was decoded by decoder 171 which then sets the flip-flop 173. If it had selected debarkation area No. 2, flip-flop 174 would have been set through decoder 172. The output from flip-flop 173 on wire 175 informs the logic circuit 626 of the selection and closes the relay 622 to place the master panel address No. 28 from the cable 360 into the debarkation address panel address comparator 506. The output on wire 175 also sets the flip-flop 623 at the first debarkation area and enables data on the Baudot line 21 to enter the converter 28 through the gates 624.

As in the case of the cargo area panel search, the debarkation area panel address counter 500 commences stepping through the panels available at that area one at a time. It steps through the panels one at a time enabling their relays, 504, 509,...511, and 540 seeking to match the master panel address on cable 360 with a possible address stored in its local address register 502, and each failure to match in the comparator 506 puts a pulse on line 505 to step the counter 500 on via the enabled gate 503 and the OR-gate 508. When a panel, such as panel No. 5 in FIG. 11 is momentarily connected by its relay 511, electric power appears on wire 512 to trigger one-shot 517 to enable gate 507 to couple the address register 502 to the comparator 506. If the counter 500 gets through the whole six panels without finding coincidence, the on its seventh count it sets the flip-flop 501 to disable the gate 503 and enable the gate 513, to commence a new search through the available panels for one which is unoccupied.

Assume only panel 5 is unoccupied. The first four panels searched or returned occupied signals on wire 514 coming from their own set flip-flop 515, and these occupied" signals on wire 514 stepped the panel address counter 500 past panels 1, 2, 3 and 4. However, when the counter searched panel five, being unoccupied, no signal appeared on wire 514 and therefore the panel address counter stopped searching. Had there been no unoccupied panel available, the search would have continued until a panel became available later on.

The tape reader 20, it will be recalled, transmitted the address of the first debarkation area, but it also followed that address with the third linefeed into the system, this linefeed appearing on wire 318 in FIG. 9 reset the flip-flop 109 through the still enabled gate 112 and at the same time set the flip-flop 119. This is the only time that flip-flop 109 is resetting while flip-flop 119 is setting, and this fact is used to provide outputs through the AND-gate 122 and the OR-gate 124 to stop the tape by resetting the relay 102. When the No. 5 panel in the first debarkation area is connected online, electric power appears on wire 512, FIG. 11, and enables the gate 519 through. the delay 518 which exceeds contact-bounce time of the relay;

511. A signal appears on wire 520 and travels into FIG. 9 on wire 520a to the logic circuit 626. This circuit compares a signal on wire 175, indicating that a debarkation panel has been designated, with a signal on wire 5200 indicating that a panel has been selected at that debarkation area, and when the signals match, it issues a pulse on wire 627 to start the tape reader 20 again through gates and 107 and the flip-flop 102. Meanwhile, the signal issuing from gate 112 has passed through delay and reset flip-flop 119, thereby placing a signal on wire 1119a. The combination of this signal with the one on wire 520 passes through AND-gate 127 and resets the flip-flop 173, and the process of selecting a panel in the debarkation area is completed leaving panel No. 5 in FIG. 11 online with relay 511 energized. A

The tape reader 20 now moves on to read out the serial number "319628" into master panel No. 28, slave panels in cargo storage areas 1, 2, 5 and 6, and slave panel N0. 5 in the first debarkation area. The tape reader 20 now reads out the first digit, a 3" into the Baudot line 24, and the converters 24, 26, 28,... convert it into B C D appearing on the data lines 200, 400, 521..., respectively. Referring to FIG. 8, assume that the digit counter 380 and field counter 381 are initially reset to select the first field. It will be recalled that so far in the entire procedure, three linefeeds have been translated from the tape reader 20. The counter 379 near the top of FIG. 8 has counted these three and sent a signal on the third linefeed on wire 379a to enable one input of the gate 382. The tape reader 20 then proceeds to readout a start" signal on wire 380a which advances the digit counter to select the first digit in field 31c. It then reads out a "3 which enters the decoder 382 as a B C D signal and is decoded and entered into the first digit of field 31c. The tape reader then reads out a start" signal appearing on wire 380a which advances the digit counter to select the second digit. At this point, the tape reader 20 reads out the encoded numeral 1 which enters decoder 382 on the B C D lines 200 and enters the numeral 1 into the second digit of the field. This entry is followed by another 'start signal on wire 380a which advances the digit counter 380 to the third digit and tape reader reads out the encoded numeral 9" which then passes through the decoder 382 and is recorded in the third digit of the field 310. The subsequent digits of the serial number 319628 are entered in this way. and when the last digit, 8, has been read out the tape reader 20 follows it by a space signal on wire 3810 which resets the digit counter 380 and advances the field counter 381 to the next field,-3ld.

Meanwhile at the slave panel for cargo area No. 5, FIG. 13, a similar function has been underway, entering the serial number "319628 into the field 43c. It will be recalled that the second linefeed set the flip-flop 420 and that the third linefeed reset it, thereby energizing wire 424 and enabling gates 425 and 426. As the serial number is read out, interspaced with start signals, the digit counter 427 is advanced through the gate 425. The digits entering the decoder 432 through the cable 400 are decoded and entered in the frame 43c until the last digit is entered. Then the tape reader sends a space" signal on wire 429 which resets the digit counter 427, advances the 'field counter 428 to the next field 43d through the gate 426, and sets the flip-flop 430 to enable the "occupied" line 431, continuously until the whole panel is reset after its function is completed.

Similarly in panel 5 at the first debarkation area in FIG. 11, the third linefeed signal on wire 521 set the digit counter 522 and field counter 523 to select the field 53c into which the serial number 319628 is entered digit by digit, the digit counter being advanced to each start" pulse preceding a numeral, the numerals being decoded by the decoder 527. When the last numeral has been sent in the serial number, the tape reader reads out a space signal on wire 521 to advance the field counter 523 to select the field 53d. The first space" signal on wire 532 also sets the flip-flop 515 to enter a signal continuously on occupied" line 514, which signal is reset only when the whole panel is later extinguished. At this point all panels are displaying the serial number 3 19628" and the tape reader is still running.

The tape reader then reads out a series of three digits preceded by start signals and comprising the estimated time of departure 16.5" hours. These numerals are entered in the respective panels at fields 31d, 43dand 53d, their digit counters being advanced by the start" pulses. When the third digit has been entered, the tape reader sends a space" signal to advance the field counters to select the fields 31s, 53e, and the corresponding field in the first cargo storage area (not shown). The next six fields corresponding with 31e, 31f, 31g, 31h, 311' and 31j, and with 43e, 53f, 53g, 53h, 53i and 53j are all fully displayed only at the master panel 28 and the debarkation panel 53, but only one of these fields is displayed at each cargo slave panel, namely the field relating to that cargo area.

The tape reader 20, continuing to run, reads out two digits for fields 31s and 53a, preceded by start" pulses and followed by a space" signal to move the field counters to the next field. In FIG. 13 showing cargo area No. 5, the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth outputs are blank, whereas the seventh output on wire 428a enables the field 43i which corresponds with the fifth cargo area. Thus the panel 43 will display the number 17 in its field 431' indicating that the order corresponding with serial number 319628 requires 17 pallets of the item being stored in this cargo area. This order is displayed in fields 311' and 531' at the master and debarkation panels along with the quantities to be ordered from other storage areas.

The panel 45, shown near the bottom of FIG. 12 is merely a remote repeater panel duplicating what is shown on its associated storage area panel 43. Another more complex type of remote panel is shown in FIG. 10 and will be described thereinafter in greater detail.

The last field 31k and 53k appears only at the master panel and at the selected debarkation panel and is provided so that a type of transportation can be indicated, i.e., aircraft, ship, small boat, truck, etc. A single number can be entered in this field arbitrarily designating this transportation. As in the case of previous entries, the number is preceded by a start" signal: but when the number has been decoded and entered in the panel, the entries are complete, and the panels are now ready to be separated from the network data entry lines and left to display their data until further intervention takes place by the operating personnel. However, if the present serial number is urgently needed, the tape reader 20 can send a space signal to advance the field counters to their highest number output, and then send an exclamation mark on wire 384. The output of the counter 381 is used in FIG. 8 to enable a gate 383 which when receiving the exclamation mark" signal on wire 384 provides an output on wire 385 to a blinker 386 to illuminate the expedite light 387 on the panel of this unit. Similarly on the last count of field counter 428, FIG. 13, the wire 434 enables the gate 435 so that the "exclamation mark signal on wire 436 can set the flip-flop 437 to light the expedite light 438 through blinker 439. In FIG. 11 the exclamation mark" signal on wire. 535 sets the flip-flop 536 through the gate 534 which is enabled by the last count of field counter 523, appearing on wire 533, to light to expedite" lamp 537 through the blinker 538.

The display units actually used in the present illustrative embodiment are commonly known in the art as IEEs, and are digital displays which project a numeral on a ground glass face from one of 10 projectors located behind the glass. These IEEs are purchased units and are driven by drivers manufactured by the same company, namely the Industrial Electrical Engineers. For instance, the decoder 382 is merely a series of AND-gate and inverters each one of which recognizes one particular binary encoded signal on the four wires entering the decoder 382 from the network lines labeled 200 near the top of FIG. 8. Since this is a very well-known type of decoding and display technique, no further explanation of it is deemed necessary at this point.

All entries, including expedite" have now been made in the panel, and therefore the tape reader 20 proceeds to so indicate by reading out a period." In FIG. 8, the period" signal arrives on the wire 330 and resets the field counter 381. The 'period" on wire 330 also passes through the OR-gate 307 and resets the flip-flop 373 to disable the driver 374 and open the relay 375, leaving the master panel No. 28 occupied but disconnected from the network lines 200 and 202. In FIGS. 10 and 11, the Baudot coded period is converted by the converter 28 to a signal on wires 539 which resets the flip-flop 623 blocking the gate 624 from further Baudot input from line 21. It also resets the flip-flop 501, resets the panel counter 500 to remove the signal from output No. 5 and open the relay 511, the field counter 523 being reset prior to mechanical opening of the relay 511. In cases where there is a remote panel such as the panel 55 in FIG. 10, to be explained hereinafter, the period on wire 539 also resets its field counter 528. In FIGS. 12 and 13, the period on the Baudot line 21 is converted to an output on the wire 441 from the converter 26 and this output resets the flip-flop 616 to block further input to the converter 26 via the gate 620. It also resets the flip-flop 402, resets the panel counter 409 to remove the signal from its No. 7 output and open the relay 453. Before the relays contacts mechanically open, the period" signal on wire 441 also resets the field counter 428. Finally, the period" signal on wire 330 in FIG. 7 travels downwardly in cable 202 and passes through the OR- gate 101 to reset the flip-flop 102 and stop the tape reader 20.

At this point, automatic entry has been made into all accessed panels; these panels have been disconnected from the network, and the slave panels are each storing in their own address registers the address of the master panel with which they have been associated.

MANUAL MODE ENTRY Recalling for the moment that a carriage return signal on wire 300 in FIG. 7 signifies the start of a new transaction entry, this entry is by the automatic mode if the carriage return" signal 300 is followed by a dash" on wire 308, which sets the flip-flop 310. However, when seeking to enter the manual mode, the operator first sends a colon" signal on wire 326 which sets the flip-flop 328 and enables one input to the AND-gate 332. Since it is not desirable to permit the operator to break in on the automatic tape reader 20 at just any random position in its cycle, the system awaits the sending of a period" by the tape reader 20, which period" on wire 333 enables the other input of gate 332 which then delivers a signal on wire 333, which passes through OR-gate 101, FIG. 9, and resets the flip-flop 102 to stop the tape reader 20.

The operator at the keyboard, however, must not be operating his teletype 22 in the lowercase'mode. A warning means is provided to warn this contingency, and includes the flip-flop 322 which is reset by an output on wire 320 indicating lowercase operation. This energizes wire 323 which, together with wire 351 which is energized by reset flip-flop 336, passes a signal through gate 324 to light the warning lamp 350 through the driver 349. The warned operator then shifts to uppercase thereby energizing wire 321 and setting flip-flop 322 to extinguish the lamp 350 and enable gate 352 to reset flip-flop 342. In this condition of the flip-flop, the data live gates 346 are conductive, as will be explained hereinafter, so that data can flow into the master panel from the keyboard machine 22.

Next, the operator sends a carriage return signal indicating a new data entry cycle via wire 300, and this sets the flip-flop 302 to enable one input to each of the gates 304 and 306. The gate 304, however, remains blocked at its other input because the flip-flop remains reset since the operator has not manually sent a dash signal. The reset condition of flip-flop 310, however, enables a second input to the gate 306 so that when the operator sends the first numeral of the address of the master panel which he desires to access, the start" signal on wire 348 preceding that character will enable the third input to gate 306 and provide an output on wire 306a to step the address digit counter 317 to provide an output on wire D1 to enable the first digit 365 of the panel address decoder 364.

Assume that the operator seeks to access master panel No. 28 and all of the slave panels storing its address. The operator therefore types in a 2" followed by an 8." The panel address decoder 364 is hard-wired in its two digits to recognize only its own address. With its first digit 365 energized it recognizes a 2 and delivers an output on wire 367 to set the flip-fiop 369. The start" pulse on wire 348 preceding the 8 numeral, which the operator sends next, advances the address counter 317 to enable its output D2 and thereby energize decoder digit 366. Since this decoder will recognize the transmittal 8, it will energize wire 368 and set the flip-flop 370. The outputs from both the flip-flop 369 and 370 will enable the gate 371 to pass a signal through OR-gate 372 and set the flip-flop 373, thereby energizing the driver 374 to light the lamp 3740 on panel No. 28 and close the relay 375 connecting this panel online with the network lines 200 and 202.

The operator then sends linefeed signal on wire 318 which resets the address digit counter 317, and at the bottom of FIG. 9 sets the flip-flop 108 in the manner set forth above in detail under automatic entry. The wire 124 becomes energized so that when the operator types in the addresses of storage area panels 1, 2, and 6, the decoders 151, 152, 155, and 156 set the flip-flops 161, 162, and 166 to energize the relays 167, 168, 169 and 170, FIG. 12, to introduce the address of master panel No. 28 from lines 360 into storage areas 1, 2, 5, and 6. Of course, if the operator so desires, he may omit any of these slave panels which he does not desire to correct, such as panels not containing the data to be changed. The set flipflops, such as 165, FIG. 9, put out enabling signals into cable 602, for instance on wire 165a, to set the flip-flops enabling the addressed cargo areas, i.e. flip-flop 616 in FIG. 12. The local panel counter in each accessed cargo area begins searching through its panels by closing relays 451, 452...453...454 one at a time, thereby pulsing the flip-flop 414 to enable the gates 407 and feed into the comparator 408 the address previously stored in the address register 405. When the stored address matches the address now appearing on wires 360, the output disappears from wire 410 which results in failure to the address counter 409 to step any further. In this way, the panels storing an address matching that of the presently accessed master panel have now been connected online the precise details of this connection having already been explained previously in this specification.

The operator now sends a second linefeed on wire 318 which resets the flip-flop 108 and sets the flip-flop 119 to enable the debarkation area decoders 171 and 172, FIG. 9. The operator the sends the address of which ever debarkation area is to be accessed, for instance area No. 1 in the present example, and the decoder 171 recognizes this address, sets the flipflop 173, and thereby energizes the relay 622 through the wire 175. This wire also sets the flip-flop 623 and places debarkation area No. 1 into operation. The panel address counter begins stepping through its outputs, sequentially closing the relays 504, 509.511.5 40 while the address comparator 506 in each panel in turn compares the address of panel No. 28 on lines 360 with the stored address, if any, in the logical register 502. As described above in detail, each failure to find coincidence puts a signal on wire 505 to step the address counter 500 to the next panel. When panel No. 5 is reached, coincidence of the addresses occurs, and the counter 500 steps no further, leaving panel No. 5 connected online As described hereinbefore, when the designated slave panels are selected and online, their signals from the gates 418 in FIG. 13 and 519 in FIG. 11 reset the flip-flops 161 through 166 and 173 and 174, located in FIG. 9. The operator can look at the master panel, FIG. 8, and tell that the selection of the associated slave panels has been successfully accomplished because the illumination of the digits in fields 31a and 31b changes color in response to successful selections as will be described hereinafter in detail under the general heading devoted to Status Reporting to the master panels from the slave panels. The operator sends the third linefeed signal on wire 318 after the address of the debarkation area to be accessed, and this linefeed resets flip-flops 109 and 119 in FIG.

9, enabling the gates 127 and 128 so that the flip-flops 173 and 174 can be reset. All panels in all areas have now been selected and are online awaiting the operator's next move.

Assuming that the operator wants to change the data only in certain fields, and not all data displayed, he addresses the various fields one at a time. Note that in FIG. 8, there is a row of lamps across the top of the master display panel No. 28, one above each of the fields 31c, 31d, 31e, 31f, 31g, 31h, 3li, 31j, and 31k. These lamps light in response to the various outputs from the field counter 381, only one of which outputs is energized at a time. Thus, the lamp which is lighted indicates which field is momentarily being accessed. It will be recalled that each space" signal on wire 381a, FIG. 8 or on wire 532 in fig. 11. or on wire 429 in FIG. 13, advances the local field counter to the next field. Therefore, when the operator sends the first space," he advances the counters to the first field selected in this manner, which is field 31c, and thereby illuminates the lamp 31m, FIG. 8. If he does not wish to change this field, 31c which shows the serial number, he sends another space signal which advances to the next field, 31d which shows the estimated time of departure and lights the lamp 31m when selected. The sending of additional space" signal would similarly advance the field counters in all online master and slave panels sequentially and in step with each other to select the fields associated with lamps 310, 31p, 3lq, 31r, 31s, 31! and 31a, the last-lighted lamp being extinguished each time a new one is lighted by a subsequent space" signal.

Assume that the operator wishes to change the estimated time of departure field 31d. He sends a total of two space" signals to light the lamp 31m, and then sends a question mark to extinguish the associated field 31d. Each of the IEE nu- 382 which contains those flip-flops, serving as the memory. and extinguishes the fields by resetting the flip-flop memories whose reset gates have been selected by the field counter. The

preceded by a start signal to again actuate the digit counter 380, and so on until the correction of the field 31d is completed.

The aforementioned start" signals are not specifically selected and sent by the teletype operator, but are automatically sent by the teletype each time another message character key is depressed by the operator. Standard teletypewriters using a standard code, such as the Baudot code, maintain a certain condition of the output line when they are in nontransmitting condition. Depending upon the particular machine,

zero, etc. However, when a character is to be sent, tion of this fact is signalled by the transmission of a start" pulse, sometimes known as a stepping signal, which amounts for example to a reversal of the line polarity actuated by a clutch within the teletypewriter at the beginning of each encoded character.

In the online slave panels, the procedure for changing the digits of the displays is the same. As a further illustration, if the operator may wish to send additional space" signals until he reaches the 9th output of the field counters and then send an exclamation mark on wire 384 to start the expedite" lamps blinking on all of the panels selected.

When the operator has completed the desired changes and/or entries, he then sends a period" on wire 330 to withdraw from the selected panels. The period" in FIG. 8 resets the field counter 381 and passes through the gate 307 and resets the flip-flop 373, thereby opening the relay 375 and disconnecting the master panel No. 28. In FIGS. 10 and 11, the period" resets the field counter 523 and resets the panel address counter 500, thereby opening the relay 511 and disconnecting the panel 53 from the network. In FIGS. 12 and 13, the period" resets the field counter 428, and resets the panel counter 409 to open the relay 453 and disconnect the panel 43 from the network.

If the operator wishes to address the history tape machine 23 to make a notation thereon without changing the panel entries, he sends a stop signal on wire 334 to set the flip-flop 336, whose output enables one input to AND-gate 338 on wire 337. The set flip-flop 328 will have enabled the middle input 329 to this gate, and the period" on wire 330 will have enabled the upper input to the gate 338. The output from this gate will set the flip-flop 342 through the OR-gate 340, whose upper input is likewise enabled to set the flip-flop 342 whenever the teletype is in lower case mode and the flip-flop 322 is reset. The effect of setting the flip-flop 342 is to remove the enable signal on wire 344 placed there by inverter 343, thereby blocking the B C D data to the panel No. 28 on network lines 200. The operator then shifts to lower case and addresses the history tape 23. When finished, he shifts again to upper case and sends another stop" signal which resets the flip-flop 336 and resets the flip-flop 342 through the now enabled AND-gate 352, thereby again enabling the AND-gate 346 tape-reader 20 running again to resume automatic mode entry.

STATUS REPORTING In the lower half of FIG. 8, are illustrated a number of means by which slave units report back to a master panel such as panel No. 28 to indicate the status of their assigned tasks. It will be recalled that on network lines 360 the master panel No. 28 sent out its own encoded address to associated slave panels through the routing means, which address is available at all times on the lines 360 whenever an entry is in progress, meaning that in FIG. 8 an output from gate 376 enables the wire 363 entering the encoder 362. The associated slaves then retain this address in their address registers 405 and 502, etc. On the other hand, at the bottom of FIG. 7 is another cable of wires labeled 600 and returning from the slave units through the routing means, FIGS. 9 and 10. This bundle of wires includes six B C D wires serving to carry the stored address of whichever master panel is being reported to by a slave panel. This address, placed on the wires 600 from its register by a slave unit in a manner to be described hereinafter, enters the decoder 390, which recognizes its own address, and in response thereto applies an acknowledge" signal to the wire 391 to enable a series of gates 250 through 259 inclusive. Each one of these gates has another input driven by a wire from a decoder located to the left of it and operative to decode one of a number of different possible status messages available to the personnel at the slave units.

From the various cargo storage areas there are two possible messages, one is that the cargo ordered is en route" to the designated debarkation area, and the other is that the order is discharged meaning that the items ordered can not be supplied and may previously have been dispatched as a result of an out of sequence manual mode directive. The top decoder labeled 260 receives from other lines in the network cable 600 a binary signal, which if it bears the correct coding will enable comprising part of the routing requires only a few milliseconds, and therefore if two areas attempt to report almost simultaneously, the first report will go through and the other will have to wait for a short interval. However, all reports are acknowledged by the master unit addresses, and therefore personnel at a slave unit are not left in doubt. The manner. The manner of acknowledgement will be described hereinafter.

Since the present discussion relates to status reporting from a storage area, referring to FIGS. 12 and 13, assume that no other slave unit is reporting status at the moment and that the personnel at cargo area No. 5, panel No. 7, wishes to report. He can do so by depressing either the ganged switches 450a and 45% to indicate en route," or by depressing the ganged switches 451a and 451b to indicate discharged. In FIG. 8. there are three colored lights located behind each of the digits 1 through 6 combining to form the field 310, these digits corresponding with each of the six selectable cargo areas. Whenever a cargo area reports back to the master panel, the pressing of either switch triggers the single shot 460 which puts out a pulse signal on wire 461 to close the Report Relay 365. The output from the single shot 460 also enables the gate 462 thereby placing the address of the master unit panel No. 28 on the network lines 600 from the register 405 via the lines 406. The master panel recognizes its own address using its decoder 390, FIG. 8, and puts out a signal on wire 391 enabling one of the gates 250 or 251 to pass a signal from the associated decoder 260 or 261. The wire 461, indicating that a status report is being carried from No. cargo area passes into network group 602 and upwardly into FIG. 8, and when it is energized, it enables the gates 288, 291, and 292 in the No. 5 cargo area display. If the panel is occupied, the wire 363 will also be energized and therefore the gate 288 will set the flipfiop 289 and light the amber lamp behind the digit No. 5 in field 31a. The flip-flop 289 remains set and therefore the amber light remains on until one of the other lights is illuminated or until a signal is applied to the OR-gate 290 to extinguish it from the extinguished line 287. The hard-wired address wire 461 from cargo area No. 5 has also enabled one input to the gates 291 and 292 as mentioned above. If the cargo area officer signals that the required inventory is en route" he passes the switches 450a and 45011 in FIGS. 13, and this signal enables the encoder 463 to send an "en route signal through the network lines 600 to the decoder 260 in FIG. 8. This decoder then energizes the gates 291 through the gate 250 and sets the flip-flop 293, thereby lighting the green lamp behind digit No. 5 'in field 310 when the flip-flop 293 sets, it resets the flip-flop 289 via the OR gate 290, thereby extinguishing the amber light. Conversely, if the cargo area officer had depressed the switches 451a and 451b to indicate discharged," the encoder 464 would have sent an encoded signal to the decoder 261 in FIG. 8 which would have passed a signal through gate 251 to enable the other input to the gate 292 and thereby set the flip-flop 294 to light the blinker 295 and show a blinking red light on the panel No. 28 behind the fifth digit of the field 31a. The other boxes located adjacent to the circuitry just described and labeled 296, 297 are identical, only they relate to the other five cargo areas and to amber, green and red lights located behind the other digits in the cargo area field 31a.

The debarkation areas have more available reports to make than the cargo areas, but the operation is similar. In FIG. 7, an encoder 560 is shown having seven different report messages. Six relate to the arrival of the cargo from the six cargo storage areas, and the seventh relates to departure from the debarkation area of the entire inventory called for by the serial number of the present transaction. Each of these seven messages is encoded differently by the encoder 560 and is delivered to the network lines 600 through the gate 561 when enabled.

The two debarkation areas are connected to the network cable 600 for status report purposes by the respective relays labeled 637 and 638, and comprising part of the routing means shown in FIG. 12. These relays are also connected to wire 639 in such a way that only one relay of the eight connected thereto can be closed at any particular moment. However, all reports are acknowledged by the master unit addressed, and therefore personnel at a slave unit are not left in doubt. The manner of acknowledgement will be described hereinafter.

Since the present discussion relates to status reporting from a debarkation area, referring to FIGS. 10 and 11, assume that no other slave unit is reporting status at the moment and that the personnel at debarkation area No. l wishes to report. He can do so by depressing any of the push buttons on the left side of the decoder 560 to indicate an encode one of the abovelisted messages. In FIG. 8 the decoder 263 can decode a message from the debarkation area that the entire serial number has been filled and departed" the ship. The decoder 264 decodes a message showing that the required inventory of items ordered from cargo hold area No. 1 under the serial number has arrived at the debarkation area. Decoder 265 can decode a message indicating that certain specific cargo required from cargo hold No. 2 has arrived. Decoder 266 indicates that the cargo ordered from cargo hold No. 3 has arrived. Decoder 267 indicates that the cargo ordered from hold No. 4 has arrived, and decoders 268 and 269 decode similar messages indicating that the specific inventory ordered from cargo areas 5 and 6 has arrived. Thus, on the wires 600 there can appear a series of specific messages indicating the status of the serial number relative to the various slave units.

Each of these messages, when decoded and passed through the appropriate gate 254 to 259 lights a light on the master panel to indicate the status of cargo ordered from the particular cargo area whose field is located above the lamp. The lamps lighted by these respective outputs are maintained lighted by flip-flops 274, 275, 276, 277, 278 and 279 which in turn illuminate lamps 244 through 249, respectively appearing beneath the associated cargo area fields 31e, 31f, 31g, 31h, 31i, and 31 on the panel 28, thereby informing the operator that the cargo ordered from those particular holds has in fact arrived at the debarkation station designated.

In field 31b, FIG. 8, the two possible debarkation area designations l and 2" are etched on ground glass and illuminated from behind by lamps showing either an amber light or a green light to further indicate status of the serial number considered as a whole transaction. When the debarkation station officer pushes one of the buttons on the encoder 560, he enables the wire 562 which travels in network bundle 600 and closes the report relay 637. This signal on wire 562 travels upwardly also in bundle 602 into FIG. 8 to the gate 280, which being also enabled by the entry in progress signal on wire 363, sets the flip-flop 282 and energizes wire 2820 to light the amber light under the ground glass bearing the numeral l in debarkation field 31b.

On the other hand, if the status report seeks to indicate that the entire order bearing that serial number has departed from that debarkation area an output from the decoder 263 will enable the gate 283 and cause the blinker 284 to blink a green light under the numeral l of the field 31b to indicate that the departure is accomplished. The green light will be turned on by setting the flip-flop 285 through the gate286, which will leave the green light blinking until the panel is extinguished. The cable 298 joins these wires to the lamps (not shown) located behind field 31b. An extinguish signal on the wire 287, as described hereinafter, will reset the flip-flop 285 and cause extinguishing of the green light. Moreover, setting of the flip-flop 28S resets the flip-flop 282 thereby extinguishing the amber light.

The amber and green light circuitry, generally labeled 299 and located directly beneath the circuits just described, are identical and operate in the same way except that they are ac tivated by an enabling signal on wire 540 and gate 281 whenever the reply signal is coming from the second debarkation area instead of the first one.

Referring again to FIG. 11, when the debarkation officer depresses any of the buttons on encoder 560, thereby energizing wire 562, this wire triggers the singleshot 564 which then enables thegates 565 and 561. The gate 561 places the stored master paneladdress on the wire in the network cable 600 from the storage register 502, which address passes through the relay 637, is recognized in the address decoder 390, which then enables the decoder gates 250, 251 and 253 through 259 enabled gate 557 and the ()R-gate 588 to illuminate the DE- PART Light on the debarkation panel 53. This same output from the serial number depart button of the encoder 560 also passes through the enabled gate 554 and actuates the DELAY and the single-shot 555. Because of the DELAY, the gate 557 is not enabled at both of its inputs when the serial number de- DELAY runs out, the gate 557 will be enabled through the single-shot 555 and will deliver an output on the extinguish wire 558, which will extinguish the entire debarkation panel 53 in FIG. ll although it will not affect the associated master panel. Thus, the debarkation panel can be extinguished in as just described by twice depressing the serial number depart button, or when the system operator extinguishes the master panel by sending a bell.

The remote panel 55 shown in FIG. operates similarly to the panel 53 in FIG. 11, but it has its own decoder 526 which received B C D data from lines 521 through gates 525 which are conductive only when the field counter 523 in FIG. 11 is selecting the first field which it can select, namely the serial number field 53c. This corresponds with field 550 in panel 55 which is then enabled. The start pulse on wire 530 preceding the first numeral 3" advances the digit counter 528 through enabled gate 529, and subsequent start pulses do the same for the remaining digits of the serial number. When the linefeed advances the field counter 523 to the next field the wire 524 goes false and entries at the remote panel are completed. The expedite" light 550 at the panel 55 can be driven by the blinker 538 in parallel with the lamp 537. A period" resets the counter 528 when the wire 539 becomes energized. When the personnel at the remote panel 55 have completed their function, for instance loaded their cargo on to the departure vehicle, they press the depart switch 55b, FIG. 10, and thereby energize the line 569 to extinguish the panel 55 and set the flip-flop 587 in FIG. ll. This flip-flop then passes a signal through the OR-gate 588 to light the Depart" lamp 590 on the panel 53. This lamp can also be lighted through the OR-gate 588 and the AND-gate .577 when the Serial Departed" button is pushed on the encoder 560. The wire 392 comes from FIG. 8 and is the output of the decoder so that if the lamps 581 through 586 light, the debarkation officer will know that his status report is being received. This is an acknowledgement from the master area panel No. 28. The acknowledge signal on wire 392 also enables the gate 554 so that when the operator depresses the Serial Departed" button on encoder 560, the resulting output will pass a signal through the singleshot 555 and the delay 556 and enable the gate 557 to deliver an extinguish signal on wire 558. This signal extinguishes the entire panel by resetting the flip-flops 515, 536, and 587 also resetting the memories in the decode and memory unit 527, and by resetting the address memory register 502. In this condition, the debarkation panel No. 53 becomes available to start all over again with a new transaction.

Referring to FIG. 13, a storage area panel. such as the panel No. 43.

green lamp in housing 455 via the wire 474. On the other hand, if the operator depresses the "Discharged" switches 451a and 45lb in FIG. 13, he will enable the gate 473 and light the red lamp in housing 455 via the wire 475. Returning to the gate 470 which was also enabled by the acknowledge" signal on wire 391. If the operator presses the en route" switches available for a new transaction.

Finally, at the master area, the system operator can extinguish the master panel by using the teletype keyboard 22 to end a transaction. It will be recalled that when the debarkation ofiicer provides a status report to the master panel No. 28 that the entire serial number inventory has departed the ship, his report resulted in a green blinking light driven by the blinker 284 near the lower right-hand comer of FIG. 8 and showing ing the address of the master panel serving that transaction. If he desires, he can also address selected slave panels in the manner described above. Having online all panels he has addressed, the operator then types in a "bell which resets in the master panel in FIG. 8 via wire 387 the numeral decoder and driven flip-flops 274 through 279 inclusive. 28 is now tion.

The embodiment of this invention is only illustrative of the concepts involved and can be varied in a great variety of respects. Having provided an illustrative embodiment, we now proceed to set forth the following claims.

We claim:

trol means to deliver system commands;

b. a plurality of separate display panels at each station, each panel having means for selectively connecting it to the network for data transfer therethrough and each panel having means for indicating whether it is presently occupied by data or unoccupied;

c. uniquely encoded address means at each master panel for means including means operative to encode its address and enter it into said network;

(I. search means at each station for sequentially scanning through the panels associated with that station;

e. means at the master station responsive to said control means to actuate its search means to select an unoccu-

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4371871 *Jan 30, 1981Feb 1, 1983Reuters LimitedAlert message communication system
US4949248 *Jul 15, 1988Aug 14, 1990Caro Marshall ASystem for shared remote access of multiple application programs executing in one or more computers
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U.S. Classification345/2.1, 340/10.6, 101/93
International ClassificationG06F3/033
Cooperative ClassificationG06F3/033
European ClassificationG06F3/033