And the solution?
In most radiology departments, digitally formatted radiographic information is recorded, used, and stored as analog images on multiformat film, manually assembled in individual patient jackets and retained in a central film file. . . Sequential (one at a time) access to film jackets results in limiting the diagnostic information to one user or display site at a time.
The solution is a peripheralized (not centralized) computer based system that can capture, display and archive all digitally formatted image and alphanumeric data generated during a patient's hospital stay. The system must have on-line access, fast communication links, and high utilization capabilities. It must be bidirectionally integrated to an appropriate long term archiving system.Here is what they envisioned, and ultimately built:
The interesting historical note here is that the system was indeed built as a series of nodes, with relatively independent architecture. Contrast that to today's PACS with a central web-style arrangement. For long-term storage, there were various options, including magnetic tape, or magnetic disks. The old Winchester-type sealed disks were available in 450 MB capacity for about $15,000 per drive, or one could splurge on a 1GB drive for $130,000! Other options included optical disks ($8,000 for the drive, $150 for the 4GB disk). There was such a thing as linear optical tape (drive cost: $80,000-$100,000, 50GB tape reel cost: $2500). The article even discusses laser-sensitive x-ray film which could store 1MB/cm2, or 238 MB on a 14 x 17 sheet!
We've definately come a long way, baby.