"Crude oil lingers from Exxon Valdez spill" is a headline in the Globe&Mail, and it reminded me of that time when I was on the staff of CADalyst magazine.
The Alaskan oil leak was a disaster in 1989, and it was CADalyst magazine's first big breaking story it would cover. Until then, the magazine published stories at a leisurely rate, as is common. Articles you read in this month's National Geographic were planned, written, photographed, and edited months, years before.
A reader tipped us off that AutoCAD was being used in the cleanup work. During the day, fishermen in their boats and oil cleanup crews on the shores located the position and extent of oil puddles. Arriving back in port in the evening, they reported this data, which was added to a copy of AutoCAD linked to a database program.
During the night, the database program generated maps in DXF format, which were displayed and plotted by AutoCAD on a large-format pen plotter. The plots were used to plan the crews' workday. Here's a list of the hardware and software used by coastal geologist Eric Gundlach:
* 20MHz Compaq 386 portable computer.
* Numonics 12"x18" digitizer.
* AutoCAD (Release 9, I am guessing).
* R:Base database software.
* GeoREF mapping software.
Assisting him was the State of Alaska using this hardware:
* 20MHz Compaq Deskpro 386 with 300MB hard drive.
* HP Laserjet II for A-size plots.
* CalComp 1043GT pen plotter for E-size maps.
Later, Exxon also set up an AutoCAD station to help with the mapping effort.
In the article I wrote at that time, "Alaskan Oil Spill" (July'89), I noted that after one month, the 2,900 workers had cleaned one mile of beach; the spill affected a thousand miles of coastline.
Anyhow, there was high excitement on the editorial side of the office, as phone calls were made, interviews held, and we waited for photographs and sample maps to arrive in the mail.
Not e-mail; postal mail. It is hard to believe that we could put out a computer magazine before even the fax machine came into common use, let alone email!