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The Knight Wideband Oscilloscope

Carmen Cundy

Date / December 15, 2021

In a hidden corner of the museum, under a few shelves of antiques and forgotten memorabilia from generations gone, sits a piece of technology altogether outdated. It is much larger than your average smartphone or computer, but it is arguably just as valuable for the insight it provides the user.

The Knight Wideband Oscilloscope is a device that enables the user to see how voltage in an electronic device changes over time, displayed as a waveform of electronic signals. 

Readers may wonder why someone would need or want to know the voltage of an electronic device. Simply put, the voltage, or the electrical force that drives a current between two points, can be a key determinant when attempting to repair an electronic device.

When a piece of electrical equipment is acting up, the voltage may not behave correctly. The user must then determine where the problem lies in order to fix it – that’s when the oscilloscope comes in handy. 

The device was first invented in 1893, when French physicist André Blondel first registered the values of electrical quantities with his very own oscilloscope. The primitive piece of technology included an ink pendulum attached to a coil which recorded the information on a moving paper tape. 

The first iteration of the oscilloscope had only a small bandwidth between 10 and 19 kHz. The product was improved upon in 1897 when German physicist Karl Ferdinand Braun invented a cathode ray tube (CRT). 

The development of the oscilloscope continued following the Second World War, when in 1946, both Howard Vollum and Melvin Jack Murdock founded the world’s leading oscilloscope production company – Tektronix. The very same year, they invented Tektronix’s first oscilloscope, the model 511, featuring triggered sweep and 10 MHz bandwidth. This new technology allowed the stationary display of a repeating waveform.

The original analog oscilloscopes used high grain amplifiers to display the waveforms on a green CRT screen. The Knight Wideband Oscilloscope is one of the older models first developed in the late 1940s through to the 1980s. 

Analog models came equipped with several vertical channels, a horizontal channel, a trigger system, a time base, and a CRT module. To collect the data read by an oscilloscope, it also includes a probe, which features two main parts – a ground clip and the probe tip. 

Almost all of the modern oscilloscopes produced today are digital and use LCD screens. 

A digital oscilloscope, first invented in 1985, employs an extra step before the signal is displayed on the LCD screen. This step converts the signal into a digital stream with an analog to digital converter, eliminating the need for CRT type screens. 

This development made way for additional features and reduced complexity of design. To this day, it remains a valuable device in many workshops.

While you may never need to make use of an oscilloscope in your day-to-day life, it is important to know about the device which was revolutionary for its time. The oscilloscope paved the way for many technological improvements and developments that have created some of the devices that have transformed our world. 

Source: What is an Oscilloscope? Why is it important? | Simply Smarter Circuitry Blog (circuitspecialists.com)

Oscilloscopes: History and Classification – ToolBoom

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