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The Care and Feeding of,

Evolution of the Oscilloscope

The oscilloscope—in one form or another—has a long history. However, it only really came into its own around the 1950 as a result of the efforts of two ex US Air Force noncoms, Howard Vollum and Jack Murdock, who’s collaboration founded Tektronix Inc. 

Vollum and Murdock recorded electronic signals on the world's first triggered oscilloscope.

Since that time, the Oscilloscope has evolved from the basic Analog scope; to the Digital Storage Oscilloscope (DSO), and now the latest, Digital Phosphor Oscilloscope (DPO), which is the best of both the Analog Oscilloscope and the Digital Storage Oscilloscope.

Along the way in it's evolution, the humble Oscope continually benefited from the latest technology; faster circuits, a microprocessor for interface control and complex signal calculations, Digital electronics for data acquisition with storage capability, etc. 

Please Note that all of the above mentioned Oscilloscopes, in their latest incarnations, are alive and well and still have their own unique place in the Oscilloscope Hierarchy. That is to say, each device has a job to fill; not the least of these is low cost. However, as with most high technology systems these days, the costs of the higher end scopes are slowley coming down, ultimately eliminating the need for compromise in choosing the right Oscilloscope--or any piece of test equipment.

There is emerging competition with all of the stand alone Oscopes, in the form of the PC/workstation as Oscilloscope.

Comparison -->||<-- of some of the more popular Oscope Types 

Analog Real-Time (ART) Oscilloscope
Direct Display Technology 1950 Displaying electronic signals on the world's first triggered oscilloscope.
Old Work Horse Tek 545
Near Direct Display of Very High Speed repetitive signals
The sampling scope should not be confused with Digital scopes. The sampler uses a very fast analog switch, located at the probe, that sub-samples the wave of interest. The viewed wave form is a result of the persistence of the phosphor, and the latency of the eye.

This technology has been around for many years. Its major drawback is its inability to capture waves that are not repetitive. 

Adding Stored Program Control to the Oscilloscope Technology 1982
Introduction of Alpha Numeric display, Digital waveform capture & storage, and microprocessor control.
Waveform Capture Rate is limited by microprocessor speeds
Persistance schemes occur at this stage
 Note the floppy Drive
Parallel Processing,.Adding Very Fast DSP Technology
Note the single glitch capture (blue/yel)

Digitized wavefroms are overlayed into the dynamic 3D database.

Snapshots of the Digital Phosphor contents are periodically sent directly to display without stopping the acquisition.

Waveform math, measurements, and front panel control are executed by the microprocessor parallel to the integrated acquisition/display system

PC/Workstation as Oscilloscope
Many of the functions previously handeled by stand-alone Oscilloscopes are now being carried out by PCs using plug-in high performance adaptor cards (fast versions of data acquisition cards).

In addition, as with some stand-alone speciality oscilloscopes, functions such as spectrum analyzer, network analyzer, TDR, logic analyzer, and more, can be easily implimented by something as simple as a software change.

.Portable Hand Held Oscilloscope/DMM

---- www.tektronix.com/Scopes/
---- www.fluke.com/Scopes/

---- www.agilent.com/--Formally HP


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