Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

April 23, 2003 | Volume 4, Issue 1

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VA Hospital System To Undergo Technological Overhaul

Senate approves 1982 computer upgrade plan

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Senate Finance Committee announced yesterday that it has approved funding for the 1982 Veterans Administration Computer Upgrade Project, paving the way for a technological overhaul that many observers describe as "long overdue."

The Commodore 64

At the centerpiece of the project is the system-wide replacement of outdated mainframe terminals with newer, more powerful Commodore 64 computers. These consoles, introduced in the early 1980's, are equipped with 64K RAM, 1.02 mHz clock speed, a 16-color high-resolution display, and a built-in BASIC language interpreter, thereby increasing the VA system's computing power by a hundred-fold.

Critical information will be stored on a sophisticated "Datasette" cassette tape data retrieval system, and cost-efficient daisy-wheel printers will be implemented to replace the current stock of dot-matrix models, many of which have been in operation since the mid-seventies.

Advanced cassette tape
backup system

"Speed is the major advantage with the daisy-wheels," said Dr. Mike Masur, the VA's national IT director. "It's a little noisy, but you can get a full page printed out in just under 2 minutes."

Although Masur has been campaigning for the changes for almost two decades, he claimed little vindication in the apparent victory.

"Well, I kinda wish [the funding] had come sooner," says Dr. Mike Masur, the VA's national IT director. "Next thing you know, they'll be approving the 1985 Coleco ADAM upgrade, and we'll have to redo our entire infrastructure all over again."

Commodore itself has been defunct since 1994, and the VA's C64 implementation will begin as soon as officials can purchase enough of the computers from eBay and other sources.

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