An Introduction to Mechanical Computing

"Differentials are used in computers to obtain continuously the algebraic sum of two quantities."

These videos explaining how 1953 naval fire-control computers worked are pretty amazing. (They aren't embeddable because their piece-of-shit FLV player is checking referers or something, and I can't find a copy of them videos on youtube or archive.org.)

Fire Control Computers, part 1 and part 2.

"Hang this up in your time machine."

Previously, previously.

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10 Responses:

  1. spoonyfork says:

    One through nine, no maybes, no supposes, no fractions. You can't travel in space, you can't go out into space, you know, without, like, you know, uh, with fractions - what are you going to land on - one-quarter, three-eighths? What are you going to do when you go from here to Venus or something? That's dialectic physics.

  2. cyflea says:

    Lovely. This reminds me of a Meat Beat Manifesto track called Timebomb Dub, which has a sample of some guy going on about how "the missile knows where it is because it knows where it isn't", and such.

  3. rodgerd says:

    New Zealand's MONIAC is on display in a museum in Wellington. Apparently one of the design/operations team hangs around in will explain it.

    Water computers.

  4. gargargar says:

    I dragged the raw flv's out with gnash (which has an option to just save all media files to disk) and put them up at http://zork.net/tmp/ (as the url suggests, those will be automatically reaped in a bit). That may help you embed them.

  5. pikuorguk says:

    Anyone got a large box of lego they don't want?

    I want to upgrade my Mac...

    • editer says:

      Heh, one of my former profs bought a batch of about 200 pounds of Legos off Craigslist; he's got Christmas gifts for his kids for the next few years. I strongly encouraged him to suss out the local maker community and point them in that direction.