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28564Re: Analog Computers - General description

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  • s100doctor
    Dec 10, 2012
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      --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, Ken <kenzolist@...> wrote:

      > I just happened to have discovered this great video a couple of days ago. It's a 50's US Navy instructional film about the mechanical computers they used. It's really eye-opening and very high quality. (It gets to the meat about two minutes in.) For me, it demonstrated the analog/mathematical approach, in contrast to the digital/logical approach I grew up learning.
      > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1i-dnAH9Y4
      > - Ken

      It looks like the site linked above is a primary Web source for WWII and later Naval fire control computer documents. It may be the original source for the video referenced above, or certainly an earlier one.

      These control computers used rotational position (radius vs angle) as means of expressing an analog function. One input variable was a cam on a shaft; two input variables was a surface on a cylinder. By cascading, you could have several variables per output. The video series shows this, and the Navy textbooks on the site above explain further.

      Mechanical computers like this were "programmed" by manufacture; one design equals one program. Electronic analog computers were programmed by wiring panels and adjusting components, as well as by design or by hard-wire. Hybrid analog computers, made the connections and adjustments digitally.

      I knew nothing about the above, until I did some Web searching based on the reference first given. It's good to see more ancient technology on the Web. In this case, advanced WW II technology, digitized from books and films.

      Herb Johnson
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