Live blogging from the Weather Channel 30th anniversary

It has been a busy day for me. I chased the last remaining (yet to be surveyed) USHCN weather station in Georgia at Dahlonega, plus did historical reference interviews with TWC founder John Coleman and Director of Meteorology Joe D’Aleo which I’ll post later. The reason I was invited and am covering it is here

Right now I’m at the Mansour Center in Marietta, GA where people are arriving for the event tonight. I’ll post images and notes as the night goes on. Check back here for regular updates.

Sorry for the short notice – couldn’t determine ahead of time if they had working WiFi here.

My computer and viewpoint tonight

John Coleman shows up…with what looks to be an ancient six pack of “TaB” diet drink…and then proceeds to open it!

I though he was joking, but it still fizzed and he drank it!

Turns out they still make it here it Atlanta and have limited distribution,

here’s some of the literature from that era of founding in 1982, note the hi-tech computer:

Socializing:

Director of Meteorology and co-founder Joe D'Aleo and Darlene Periconi

Al Lipton, TWC original, and organizer of the event, opens the event

Some familiar and famous names:

Dinner is on at the moment, expecting some presentations afterward…about 15 minutes from now: 8:00PM EST

Some of the original staff showed up after midnight at the new TWC building and crashed their party:

Amazingly they got in:

The two photos above by Darlene Periconi

One of the pioneers who could not be present, addresses his friends and coworkers via webcam:

Founder John Coleman relays the story of how TWC got started. I’ll have video of this story later. He says David Hartman of ABC News Good Morning America was such a time hog that he could never do a good job covering the nation with so little time left…and this gave him the inspiration for TWC.

Joe D’aleo talks about the technical challenges of creating the first 24/7 all weather TV channel. 148 people were on board to kick off the debut. From technicians, to talent, to visionaries.

Alan Galmubeck talks about the computers and the need for the “weather star” character generator inserter.

File:WeatherSTAR III.jpg

The first nationwide launch was plagued with a glitch - they all showed the same time no matter what time zone they were in. Another glitch was that in some cable TV head ends in some TV markets, these electronic boxes wiped out TV channel 2 with interference.

Back then NOAA/NWS didn’t have access to all watches/warning they generated in forecast offices in one place. A solution with WSI corporation was created called the Digital Access Module Network or the DAMN box…which put all this together and made dissemination of watches and warnings via the “weather star” box possible for cable TV viewers.

A blooper reel of the early days was shown (about 25 mins ) that I hope to have up here next week along with a tape of the event.

While I realize that this may not be of interest to everyone, but I’m priviledged to be here and to have contributed in my own small way during those years.

Regular stories on WUWT will resume on Monday.

 

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37 thoughts on “Live blogging from the Weather Channel 30th anniversary

  1. ah, I didn’t know that “TaB” still existed….. thank you for the explanation!

    Good luck with the event and thanks for the updates…..

  2. Make sure to stop by the Marietta Diner for some desert after the event. I lived in N. Atlanta for a year, and that place had the best deserts and selection.

    Its next to the big chicken lol.

    Decided to make it easy on you with a cell phone: here is address:

    Marietta Diner
    306 Cobb Pkwy S, Marietta, GA
    (770) 423-9390 ‎ · mariettadiner.net

    Head south on Cobb Parky (Hwy 41 from your current location about 1 mile).

    Best deserts ever. My wife and I loved that place, and its open 24 hours to boot. To be honest, food is not the best in my opinion, although my wife loved the food too, so I guess its all up to personal taste lol, but the deserts were fantastic and normally I am not a desert person.

  3. I know someone around here that drinks Tab, it’s her soft drink of choice. No idea where she gets it in San Jose, CA, though.

  4. Oh to be in Georgia in the springtime…

    Fond memories of a baseball game with the son at the Atlanta Braves stadium when he was about 9 or so (nearly ideal age for that kind of thing).

    Enjoy the event, you all deserve it!

    (And I agree: Skeptics do have more fun! We’re not all doom and gloom and ‘enraged’ or ‘fighting’ for a cause or ‘occupying’ things. Just dinners, time with friends, and digging at the truth…)

  5. First time commenter, I know this is way off topic for this thread, but this is gold.
    Just read this on deadspin… Tim McCarver Blames Global Warming For The Increase In Major League Home Runs. You’re welcome :)

  6. Looks like the organizers have done a good job of mixing in some young folks (interns?) with the old coots and cootesses. Hope the youngsters learn something from conversation!

  7. > note the hi-tech computer
    > http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/twc_30-3.jpg

    Not-a-computer, but a DEC VT-??? terminal. It probably went to a VAX in the computer room.
    Think 24×80 MS-DOS window, but with a real command language and a real operating system on a real computer used by everyone at The Weather Channel.

    Less computer power than an iPhone, but at least dozens of people could use it simultaneously.

    REPLY: VT-102 I’m told by one of the tech guys…who showed me the original DEC purchase order for the mainframe and terminals. – Anthony

  8. Enjoy, have fun and let them all know that if needed you could, if you were so inclined and if you put your mind to it you could….. now waht were we….

    Have fun AW, make it last

  9. As a little kid I remember my Dad demanding absolute silence when John Coleman’s weather report came on Chicago TV. My late father absolutely adored John Coleman.

    Anthony…are you sure you won’t encounter Heidi Cullen or Jim Cantore? Both of them deserve a stinging swat on the butt should you run into them.

  10. For a little perspective, both on TWC and me. In the mid 80′s in Manhattan, with cable channels popping up right and left, one morning my then-girlfriend said, “Hey, they should start a weather channel!” In my wisdom I replied, “Are you kiddin’ me?”

  11. We worship all things Coca Cola here in Atlanta. Welcome to Atlanta, Anthony. Check out the local two meter repeaters while running around.

    REPLY: Sorry, no HT with me on this trip. KA9NWN

  12. April 28, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    > note the hi-tech computer
    > http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/twc_30-3.jpg

    Not-a-computer, but a DEC VT-??? terminal. It probably went to a VAX in the computer room.
    Think 24×80 MS-DOS window, but with a real command language and a real operating system on a real computer used by everyone at The Weather Channel. …

    And who did Bill Gates hire to do the “NT” code (and the basis for Win 2000, Xp onward)? You guessed it; the same crew that did VMS for the VAX (Virtual Address Extension; think: virtual memory) series …

    VAX and Windows NT (Dave Cutler) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Cutler#Windows_NT

    Windows NT and VMS: The Rest of the Story

    .

  13. OT. Not only is Climate Progress no longer, if you punch in ‘global warming’ at ThinkProgress, up comes……….nothing.

    Hmmmmmmmm…………

  14. Best deserts ever. My wife and I loved that place, and its open 24 hours to boot. To be honest, food is not the best in my opinion, although my wife loved the food too, so I guess its all up to personal taste lol, but the deserts were fantastic and normally I am not a desert person.

    You eat deserts?? Oh, desserts. Never mind.

  15. Forgive me for this twisted bit of humor….
    ————————————-
    Remember the great weather reports from the 1980s?
    “Fair and sunny today, slightly cooler tonight”
    Well these and other great reports can be yours in out new album, “Solid Gold Weather”
    Solid Gold Weather is NOT sold in any store, but can be yours if you ….
    ————————————-
    Back to the real world… I hope you all have a great time!!!

  16. Have a great time. I hope you are able to fill in a few colleagues on “recent developments”, as it were . . .

    I took another shot at some “visuals” (very dramatic). I’ll fill you in when you get back and have time to breathe.

    I chased the last remaining (yet to be surveyed) USHCN weather station in Georgia at Dahlonega

    I assume you mean its current location.

    It was at a radio station until 2000, but it was discontinued. I spoke to the ex-curator at the end of 2008, but he simply could not remember where it was exactly. That was the only time I got ahold of a curator who couldn’t spot it for me.

    Dahlonega station was reestablished in 2009, a little under a mile east of its old location. I never did manage to spot it using Google Earth or Birdseye (those images are probably pre-station move). And since the 2009 location was too recent for our nefarious purposes, I did not pursue it.

    MMS has an “inactivation” date for it of May 1, 2011, so it may be long gone.

    There’s supposedly another station off to the south, a bit, but that has an end date of 2008 and is not a USHCN station, anyway.

    [For those unfamiliar, I ran down well over 200 USHCN station locations without actually visiting the sites by using automated mapping and/or contacting the curators. I also uploaded precise Map views, with measurements, of hundreds of stations observed by others. Results are on surfacestations.org. (I also made a dozen mano-a-mano camera surveys.)]

  17. _Jim says:
    April 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    And who did Bill Gates hire to do the “NT” code (and the basis for Win 2000, Xp onward)? You guessed it; the same crew that did VMS for the VAX (Virtual Address Extension; think: virtual memory) series …

    VAX and Windows NT (Dave Cutler) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Cutler#Windows_NT

    Windows NT and VMS: The Rest of the Story

    That’s an extremely accurate account, to the best of my knowledge. The only thing missing were the Digital copyright statements I believe Digital folks found in the code….

    For a long time I wondered if leaving the group that went on to write VMS was a major career blunder. At one point it looked like it was a great move. However, I could have become one of the folks with 20 years of VMS experience on a failing system, but it wound up outlasting several Unix variants, including DEC’s Tru64 Unix, one of the better ones.

    Currently I’m back to thinking it was a good move. Even the Tru64 experience is helpful on IBM’s AIX, which has a relatively near common ancestor to Tru64.

  18. Anthony, For those that were interested in the computer for the Star Host it was a Dec PDP 11-44 running shared disks with a backup 11-44. The operating system was RSX-11M+ and the development language was pascal (non dec) and macro 11. And yes, the were VT 100 terminals.
    btw… 256K of memory :-) …. yes that was K

  19. Will your report on Dahlonega’s weather station make the town famous again?

    First gold rush. Gold on the Georgia State house. Perfectly sited weather station – or not! Inquiring minds want to know.

  20. _Jim says:
    April 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm
    Not-a-computer, but a DEC VT-??? terminal. It probably went to a VAX in the computer room. Think 24×80 MS-DOS window, but with a real command language and a real operating system on a real computer used by everyone at The Weather Channel. …

    And who did Bill Gates hire to do the “NT” code (and the basis for Win 2000, Xp onward)? You guessed it; the same crew that did VMS for the VAX (Virtual Address Extension; think: virtual memory) series …w, but with a real command language and a real operating system on a real computer used by everyone at The Weather Channel. …

    VAX and VT-100 terminals bring fond memories. VMS was a fantastic operating system, 32 bit more than a decade before Windows. The command language DCL would still run circles around the command language in today’s Windows.

    By the way, if you add 1 to the ASCII codes of VMS, you get
    V+1=W
    M+1=N
    S+1=T

    VMS+1=WNT (Windows NT) . WIndows 7 is Windows NT version 6.1, so in a way VMS lives. And so does the real thing: http://www.openvms.org/

  21. Ooooh, I love it when people talk DEC p0rn! I ran a group with a DEC 11-780, then wonder of wonders, several years later wound up doing technical marketing for DEC supercomputers – into H’wood of all places.

  22. ****
    _Jim says:
    April 28, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    And who did Bill Gates hire to do the “NT” code (and the basis for Win 2000, Xp onward)?
    ****

    You forgot the original — NT 4.0! That OS keep me going at home from ~1996 to just a month or so ago. Pretty good OS for me, other than the occasional blue screens of death…

  23. beng says:
    April 29, 2012 at 7:06 am
    Pretty good OS for me, other than the occasional blue screens of death…

    Sure glad to see they got rid of that “feature” in windows. Now if they could only fix the BSOD.

  24. Will your report on Dahlonega’s weather station make the town famous again?

    First gold rush. Gold on the Georgia State house. Perfectly sited weather station – or not! Inquiring minds want to know.

    If it’s still there. According to MMS, it was closed in 2000, reestablished in 2009, but was deactivated in May of last year. So maybe the equipment is still ibn place, but maybe not.

    We don’t know the curator. NOAA removed all the curators’ names from MMS specifically because of Anthony’s surface station project. “To protect their privacy.” Although I spoke to dozens of those curators (thanks to a compilation of the earlier available info.), and they were always all too delighted to speak with me about their weather stations. Often at quite some length.

    As for NOAA, they greatly fear (and hate) Anthony. I don’t remember ever telling this story, but at the risk of repeating myself . . .

    I remember speaking to the curator of Angelica, NY, station, in early 2009, for over half an hour (he said he’d send some ground shots). Then his wife called me back, furiously angry. She had called the NOAA and they had told her that Anthony and Dr. Pielke were malign deniers and tools of industry and never to speak with any of us ever again. (She completely believed them.) The word was out. So we never did get those ground shots.

    So much for Scientific Method.

    I wrote up a brief account of this on my station survey:

    http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=61692

  25. I’ve watched TWC from the beginning. Shame what it’s turned into.
    The pioneers did the hard work but it could also be a frustrating time for the viewer as certain things got worked out. I remember watching a radar of an approaching storm, figuring time and distance to my location, judging if it would miss me just to north … or not…when up popped this text page with the wordy warning from the local NWS office which blew the radar off the screen. That used to frustrate the heck out of me.

    But everything steadily improved, a lot from viewer feedback, as the technology improved as well.

    I also remember that Michelin practically OWNED them for years.

    I also remember mornings before I’d had my coffee praying to the Gods that Marney Stanier (whom I liked) would not look directly at the camera and smile.

    And no matter his views on climate change, I just can’t hate Jim Cantore. He’s a natural teacher and his enthusiasm for the weather was and is contagious.

    Yeah I watched…a LOT.

  26. I’d like to see TWC do an April Fool’s joke, have the on-camera people wet like they’ve just come in from a downpour and rename it for the day to “The Wetter Channel”.

  27. DEC porn indeed. Mind you, it was all a lift from Burroughs MCP anyway. LOL
    I’m allowed to say that because I worked for both Burroughs and Digital.

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