ISO: Documentation for a Northern Scientific NS-600

Brent Hilpert bhilpert at
Thu Jan 26 21:02:13 CST 2017

On 2017-Jan-26, at 1:48 PM, Josh Dersch wrote:
> Hi all --
> Went spelunking in a hoarder's basement this morning (long story) and came
> out with a few interesting items, including a Northern Scientific NS-600.
> From what I can tell it's from the late 60s and is capable of storing and
> analyzing digital data (and can display it on a tiny scope display).
> There isn't any real documentation out there, just a few research papers
> here and there noting its use in various experiments.  Anyone have anything
> on this?

Here's a catalog page and pic of the Northern Scientific NS-544 from 1967/8, I wonder if the NS-600 might be a subsequent model:

This is billed as a Digital Memory Oscilloscope.
It sounds like a contemporary of and very similar to the HP5480 Digital Signal Analyser I have, from the same era.

The NS-544 and HP5480 are basically precursors to the modern DSO, but rather than being intended as a general purpose scope (too slow and too expensive),
they had modes and were targeted for applications that could benefit from the digitisation and (numerical) storage and manipulation of the signal.
They could do things like signal averaging and very-slow-signal capture. The HP-5480 had a mode which which would produce histograms of pulse rates (think nuclear decay rates).

So they contain AD converters, digital memory (core can be expected as Bill mentioned, if it's from the late 60s, that's what's in my HP5480), adder/ALU, and a whack of hardwired logic to control it all.

Pic of the front panel controls would be interesting and might help categorize it.

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