Starting in the mid-1960’s, Arnold rapido offered a layout wiring approach which was relatively simple, relatively inexpensive and reliable. Using track switches (“turnouts”) and gapped tracks, the layout operator was able to have multiple locomotives on even a simple layout and manage them easily. This approach, which we call analog, is discussed here.
Beginning in the mid-1980’s, model railroading enjoyed a technological burst. This rapid expansion of model railroad control is generically called “command control”. With this new model railroad technology, each locomotive contained a decoder that was assigned an unique address. A central command station contained a microcomputer which kept track of locomotive addresses and device addresses. This central unit would send out a digital coded signal to a specific locomotive address and the locomotive would operate.
There had been command control systems in the model railroad market before, but they had been limited by a variety of factors. In particular, these systems had been expensive, complicated and in more than a few cases, unreliable. The model railroad market was looking for something better, and the first inklings of such a system appeared in Europe in the mid-1980’s.
That model railroad command control system was Märklin Digital. Originally developed for Märklin’s three-rail AC power H0 trains, Digital soon branched out into two-rail DC, and from that development came Arnold Digital. I refer to this a Arnold Digital Gen 1 because this product line would eventually leave the market and later be followed by another Arnold digital train control line, again called Arnold Digital, but different from the previous offering. I refer to this as Arnold Digital Gen 2.
While the 1st generation of Arnold Digital was groundbreaking, introducing the concept of digital command control to N-Scale trains, by the time the 2nd generation of Arnold Digital came to market, the concept of DCC was well established.
It’s an interesting story: