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Re: [midatlanticretro] Analog Computers - General description

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  • Ken
    ... 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.
    Message 1 of 18 , Dec 8, 2012
      On 9/7/2012 7:50 PM, joshbensadon wrote:
      >I'm trying to learn something about these old computers. First of all, do they actually follow program steps? I always equated the term computers with something that can follow directions, calculate numbers, make decisions based on the results. How were these old computers used? Who used them? etc.

      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
    • s100doctor
      ... http://www.eugeneleeslover.com/VIDEOS/fire_control_computer_1.html It looks like the site linked above is a primary Web source for WWII and later Naval
      Message 2 of 18 , Dec 10, 2012
        --- 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
        >
        http://www.eugeneleeslover.com/VIDEOS/fire_control_computer_1.html

        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
      • William Donzelli
        ... I think some of these are originally from the Historic Naval Ships Association. There is a group of us ship geeks that are also trying to save and archive
        Message 3 of 18 , Dec 10, 2012
          > http://www.eugeneleeslover.com/VIDEOS/fire_control_computer_1.html
          >
          > 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.

          I think some of these are originally from the Historic Naval Ships
          Association. There is a group of us ship geeks that are also trying to
          save and archive the technology, bitsavers style.

          > 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.

          There is also a class of fire control computers that used linear
          displacement of levers and linkages, rather than rotation. These
          machines were much cheaper to make, but not quite as accurate. And of
          course, there were hybrids of all sorts. I had a small collecton of
          small machines and assemblies at VFC East number 2.

          Trivia - there are two Mk 4 Torpedo Data Computers still in active
          service, in the Taiwan Navy. They have been in near continuous service
          since 1946.

          --
          Will
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