February 28th, 2010

Visiting old mine

Visited an old mine today... Actually for an orienteering run. And seen some pretty impressive tech...

Mine is actually from 1890 or so, and it was running up to 1997 or so. They had some wonderful hacks -- like steam engine, still powering the elevator up to 1997, but running on compressed gas.

And because they did not use the computers to control the elevator, they had to use two-operators, and blackbox type device recording elevator speeds and communication over single rope. Speedometer used mercury. Impressive.

But... on the other hand they kept things simple. Steel pipe was used for communications 500 meters underground. Single part. In 1980, they'd probably use two analog phones and a battery, about 10 parts total. Today, we'd probably use two computers, running VOIP over ethernet, for about 1000 milion parts total. Is not progress wonderful?