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

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 (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.