Saturday, April 3, 2010

Analog Computers are Wicked Cool!

I spent some time this afternoon clearing out my bookmarks and found a Channel 9 video with Brian Beckman talking about his history with computers and the history of analog computing. The most interesting part was the links to some old training films that show the different mechanisms used to create analog computers to allow navy ships to compute bomb trajectories in real time. I grew up in an era of integrated circuits and TI-89 calculators, but it is absolutely fascinating to see how mechanical parts can be used to create multipliers, integrators, and differentials that can be combined to instantly calculate the launch angle and speed required to hit a given target. The videos come in Part 1 and Part 2 with each being about 20 minutes long and highly recommended. Check it out!

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