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Spit Brook Rd. Engineering Facility (ZKO)

In response to a question sent in by member Rick Brimer, here is the interesting story of the Spitbrook Rpad DEC facility Bar Code.  Thanks to Steve Lionel, Keith Parris, Rick Spitz and Jerry Eckert for their contributions.


- Steve Lionel describes this and its history and has a picture at this link: https://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2010/10/20/thirty-years-of-zonker-kookies  I remember taking a picture on my first visit there, and decoding it. It was 7 bit ASCII, no parity, as I recall.  -- Keith Parris keithparris@yahoo.com

- The ZK plant was a Software Engineering facility which opened in the early 1980s. The main entry to ZK1, the original building in the complex, had black and white bars arranged as 7 bit binary ASCII code.  Black corresponded to a binary 1 and white to a binary 0.  if you look carefully, you will see a gap between each group of 7 bars. 
I recall it translated to "Digital Software Engineering".  Because the message would not all fit on one line, there were two lines. The top line said: "Digital Softwa" and the bottom line  said "reengineering". Those who knew ascii sometimes joked about it saying, "Digital Softwa"  "reengineering". 
I found an old photo of the VMS team for the V3.0 release in front of the ZK1 main entry, You can see the bars on the side of the building behind them. I am also including a 7 bit ASCII translation table so you can decode it for yourself if you like.
During VMS V3.0, I worked on the VMS terminal driver and ASCII code was fundamental to my work, so I remember this quite well. Fun to recall old Dec history.  -- Rick Spitz spitz@spitz.us

Rick sent 2 related photos:




In addition to these secret codes, even non-engineering visitors to one of the Spit Brook buildings (ZKO3?) couldn't help but notice the chalkboards in the bathroom stalls.  So much more productive than a typical bathroom reader!


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