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Mechanical Computing

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the meccano-punk dept.

Hardware 149

FTL writes "Tim Robinson has built a computer capable of solving polynomial equations -- using Meccano. His difference engine (mirror) uses a similar approach to Babbage's design. He's also created a differential analyzer (mirror) complete with a GUI. Both could be scaled up indefinitely to handle larger problems. 'Computing by steam' is possible."

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149 comments

Strange (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285590)

Strange. I thought Mechanical Computing was in the past [campusprogram.com]

Re:Strange (4, Informative)

cjellibebi (645568) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285876)

It is in the past for state of the art computers, but in the present for geeks playing around with computers that can easily be built. It's always fun to find an alternative method of building a computing device, and building it just for fun. I've seen logic-gates built out of all kinds of things.

Digital computers are more suited being built electronically (small and fast), but in the early days of computers, many were analog. The transition to digital happened around the same time as the transition from mechanical to electronic. Nowardays, analog computing is virtually unheard of, but I think that sometime during the late 80's/early 90's, they had found an application for analog computing in Neural Networks. I can't remember what it was, but the revival in analog computing has failed to materialise, so it must not have been very important.

First post for ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285592)

warez.

On behalf of...


Jews.

I don't understand either. I was forced to do this.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285594)

w00t

Mechanical Computing can't succeed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285595)

Most slashdotters are weaklings; couldn't turn the sprokets!

Beautiful! (4, Insightful)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285602)

No really - this is art...

Re:Beautiful! (2, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285703)

I have an abacus that hangs on my wall and it is always fun to see people use it, or at least try to. I learned how to use an abacus in 2nd or 3rd grade I think and the tactile sensation I think helped establish the immediciacy of mathematics in my own physical space for me.

Computing by steam? (4, Funny)

ranger714 (580794) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285604)

Sounds like what happened to a friend of mine recently who devised his own "Homebrew" watercooling rig for his Athlon64...

The steaming vents on the case gave mute testimony to the utter destruction the water made as it transisioned rapidly from liquid form to gaseous form. Poor devil...

Of course, I could also see something like that from the original "Wild, Wild West" tv show (and not the horrific movie of the same name), or maybe "Brisco County, Jr.".

Freecache Mirror. (0, Redundant)

technix4beos (471838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285605)

Re:Freecache Mirror. (0, Redundant)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285638)

Freecache currently only works with files over 5mb - AND - it won't cache the pictures.

It is designed to cache large high demand files (like movies or archives - not single html webpages.

Having said that, if enough people use it, then maybe freecache people will change their policy.

Re:Freecache Mirror. (1)

technix4beos (471838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285694)

Let's hope that they do change their policy then. I'm quite tired of seeing Slashdot go boom on poor unsuspecting servers, so I hurriedly put together what I posted without actually seeing the fine print, as it were. ;)

It's the thought that counts, right?

Re:Freecache Mirror. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285668)

moron karmawhore.

More Images and Links. (2, Informative)

technix4beos (471838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285675)

More images and links, courtesy of FreeCache [archive.org]. Due to Slashdot's lameness filter, I'm filling in some characters here so the character per line average goes up.

Enjoy a nice unsorted list of some images, courtesy of FreeCache. I wish more people would use this service in the future.

And some more links that the author is working on, apparently:

1835 Called (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285606)

1835 called; they want their revolutionary technological ideas back.

Computing Will Find a Way (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285614)

FUCK PATENTS! FUCK DRM! Take my computer, and I'll build another from MECCANO!!! Take my Meccano, and I'll build a computer from root vegetables! Bwahahaha!

More seriously, this illustrates just _why_ the I"P" neofascists are on a losing streak in the long run (but so was the xtian church, and the dark ages still lasted most of a millenium - so that doesn't fill me with glee. It mightn't be until the year 3000 that we leave the new I"P" dark age :-( )

Tinkertoys (5, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285617)

Don't forget about the Tinkertoy computer [rutgers.edu]

Re:Tinkertoys (1)

sploo22 (748838) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285666)

From the link:
At some point the clicking mysteriously stops; a "core piece" within the framework spins and then with a satisfying "kathunk" indirectly kicks an "output duck," a bird-shaped construction. The output duck swings down from its perch so that its beak points at a number- which identifies the computer's next move in a game of tic~tac-toe.

The "output duck" really made my day.

Re:Tinkertoys (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9286101)

Any relation to the Toilet Duck?

MIT's 1930s differential analyzer (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285626)

Mechanical computers were built and used over 60 years ago to solve differential equations and other analytical type problems. I know MIT and UCLA had pretty good mechanical computers in the WWII era. Check out MIT's famous mechanical differential analyzer [mit.edu] for and idea of what was and is and awesome piece of hardware.

"Graphical User Interface" (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285678)

I got a kick out of this page [mit.edu] where it states:

"Operator's console of the Differential Analyzer, a literally "graphical" user interface. The operator (at left, Samuel Caldwell) manipulates a pointer by hand to follow the curves on the paper, which are then integrated or otherwise processed by the machine, which drives a plotter to make another graph as output..." [emph. added]

Re:MIT's 1930s differential analyzer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285782)

Yeah, but does it run Linux?
And imagine a beo... nevermind.

Re:MIT's 1930s differential analyzer (1)

bev_tech_rob (313485) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285936)

Not to mention the mechanical computers on WWII battleships used to aim the big 17 inch guns. Actually were still in use (claimed they worked just as well as any modern electronic computer), in the 90's until the ships were decommissioned once again (or are they still in action?)

Re:MIT's 1930s differential analyzer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9286256)

And of course they are inherently radiation hardened and resistant to EMI.

First post for... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285631)

Drexlerian rod logic computing.
Discuss.

Sweet (4, Funny)

Revolution 9 (743242) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285645)

I always wanted a PC I could shovel coal into.

Re:Sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285684)

Now that woud be a bitch to cool.

Re:Sweet (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285749)

I always wanted a bevy of victorian age asian female automatons [64.156.25.86]shoveling coal into a huge furnace to power my death train that I have built to the exact specifications to use to steal all the silicon from silicon valley, muhahahahha.

Rod Logic (2, Interesting)

3Suns (250606) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285655)

Reminds me of the nano-scale "rod logic" used for computation in Neal Stephenson's "The Diamond Age". Those were rods with bumps on them arranged in a 3d grid, and as the were moved back and forth the bumps somehow performed computation.

Re:Rod Logic (3, Interesting)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285845)

That's actually probably how nanoprocessors will operate, getting electricity to stay where you want it on the scale is a lot harder than using nanotubes with rods suspended in them. Of course, there will be actuators at the 'leads' that are electrical or light-actuated.

Next project? (4, Interesting)

cjellibebi (645568) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285662)

I recon this guy should try to build a machine that uses computational logic gates (NAND, NOR, etc). From that, he can build up things like binary adders and simple flip-flops. Then, add an instruction-decoder, and an arithmetic-logic unit - and viola - a Meccano CPU.

Re:Next project? (4, Insightful)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285867)

I think perhaps a (finite) turing machine would be much easier. It would be simpler due to not needing random access memory.

Re:Next project? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9286366)

Who said anything about random access memory? All we're talking about here is a basic CPU capable of performing simple arithmetic operations and perhaps following a hard-coded program. You certainly don't need RAM for that, just a few registers here and there.

Re:Next project? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285955)

and viola

I hope you meant voila, since viola is processed cheese [valio.fi]. It was the best known Finnish product in soviet union and still is the best known Finnish product in Russia.

Re:Next project? (1)

cjellibebi (645568) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286090)

Oops. Slight fingers-keyboard-interaction-whoopsie there. Thankfully, I can live up to your hopes, as I did in fact mean 'voila'.

BTW, 'viola' is also a musical instrument. It's bigger than a violin and smaller than a cello.

Re:Next project? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9286301)

Oops. Slight fingers-keyboard-interaction-whoopsie there. Thankfully, I can live up to your hopes, as I did in fact mean 'voila'.

BTW, 'viola' is also a musical instrument. It's bigger than a violin and smaller than a cello.


yes, I thought it was a typo and since viola is also a name of the musical instrument (learned that when I googled for that valio viola page) even the spellchecker won't catch it.

Re:Next project? (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286240)

"viola" can also be used in a context where you are trying to be funny, for the personality impaired readers out there. Otherwise known as a "play on words" (an amusing use of a word with more than one meaning or that sounds like another word).

Re:Next project? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9286349)

Yes it could. Are you trying to say that people here try to be funny by playing with words? Never thought of that! Allthought I have noticed that some folks try be funny in a sarcastic way...
Or I just don't quite get what you mean, english not being my native language and all.

Re:Next project? (3, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286163)

Approximately one year ago, there was a lot of discussion on the pneumatics newsgroup for lugnet, and some interesting ideas on how to make assorted digital computing elements using LEGO were worked out. AND, OR, XOR, Adders, and even a mechanism for binary-based memory storage were designed.

The costs of purchasing enough LEGO elements to actually make a simple and an even remotely usable computer, however, was well into the thousands of dollars.... kind of hard to justify for something that ultimately, is... well... rather useless.

Re:Next project? (1)

cjellibebi (645568) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286212)

Do you have a link?

I think that although a usable Lego-computer would cost thousands, building a Lego CPU would be much cheaper. Not much use, but it would be a fun geek-project.

I once knew someone who designed components for a lego-CPU. This included a 'Lego-transistor' to prevent the load that a single gear-wheel would have to drive from becoming too much.

My first computer (4, Interesting)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285665)

was a mechanical rig that used 1 inch soda straws for 1's and blank holes fro zeros. You pulled a crank and it added two numbers. I wish I could remember its name - it was some sort of "science kit." from the 60's.

Re:My first computer (1)

cjellibebi (645568) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285714)

>that used 1 inch soda straws for 1's and blank holes fro zeros

How did you prevent the holes in the soda straws from being confused with the blank holes? And besides, if you hold a straw so it's end is facing your face, it looks more like a 0 than a 1.

Re:My first computer (2, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286095)

It was card programed, but not punchcard programed. You had a plastic card with "teeth" on one side. Sticking a bit of straw on one of the teeth was a one. A tooth without a straw on it (a "hole" between the straws) was a zero. You ended up with a gap toothed "comb." The straws were just a way to make cheap pegs.

The answer came out in binary formed from stickers of little white and black squares stuck to tab ends of cards.

KFG

Re:My first computer (3, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285755)

I've been trying to remember the name of that puppy too. I had one and it was fascinating (if you're the sort of kid who also takes apart those old, plastic, push button, gear driven adding machines they used to sell in the grocery stores to see how they worked. Mechanical computers were actually nearly ubiquitous in the 60s).

Anyone with 60s comic books should be able to find an ad for one in the back, right next to the 6 foot long fiberboard submarine.

I never had one of those. I still blame my mommy.

KFG

Re:My first computer (3, Informative)

paul_21954 (783971) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286119)

my first digital computer was a digicomp 1. it got thrown away. there is a yahoo group dedicated to it and there is a pic and some info here: http://www.rdrop.com/~jimw/j-hist.shtml there used to be a simulation of it on a web page but i can't seem to find that (URL i had is dead).

Re:My first computer (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286250)

Bingo! That's the puppy. Thanks.

Six bucks was a lot of money for a kid back then. Something like three months allowence for me, or a full day of mowing lawns/shoveling snow. I don't remember what happened to mine and I assume it got thrown away. I'll blame my mommy for that too, what the hell. ( I don't get to blame my mommy for not having any 60s comic books anymore though. I get to blame my best friend's mommy).

I'd completely forgotten about Dr. Nim. I had one of those too.

Memories. . . like the corners of my. . .

Oh. Sorry. I'll stop now.

KFG

Next thing to do.. (1)

irokitt (663593) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285671)

Is get a C compiler working. I want to see it running Linux within the year!

Re:Next thing to do.. (3, Interesting)

GridPoint (588140) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285761)

Linux probably would a bit too large to fit, but a port of Contiki [www.sics.se] might be worth waiting for, given their track record... Now if only someone would care to make a mechanical Ethernet NIC and we could build a fully mechanical webserver. You wouldn't be able to stand the noise a slashdotting of that would make!

Re:Next thing to do.. (2, Interesting)

cjellibebi (645568) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286015)

I'm not really sure if Contiki really is smaller than a Linux kernel can ever become. Contiki has been built mainly for 6502-based systems. What I've heard is that the reason there is no back-end for GCC that produces 6502 code is because the 6502 only has a 256-byte stack, and for reasons unknown to myself, GCC has a problem with this (I'm not sure if Linux also has this problem). Contiki has been built with the CC65 C compiler for 6502's [cc65.org] compiler instead. So if the Meccano computer does not have this limitation, then Linux could run just as well as Contiki.

Contiki/Linux just needs to be compiled on a real compiler with a back-end that produces code that the Meccano CPU can run. As for which OS to try out, try and compare the size of a Contiki kernel to thet of a Linux kernel, and go with the smallest (question: Is there a size comparison of the two kernels on a machine that is capable of running both OS's?). As all the flip-flops for memory/storage will have to be built by hand, it would make sense to try the smallest OS on the machine. I suspect that Contiki would be the smallest, but I am not sure if Contiki can run as a server OS, so it would be useless, unless you also made user Input/Output devices out of Meccano as well.

Re:Next thing to do.. (2, Informative)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286471)

but I am not sure if Contiki can run as a server OS

http://www.sics.se/~adam/contiki/apps/webserver. ht ml

Contiki can even run a version of uVNC, which is Adam Dunkels' VNC server for 8-bit systems.

Re:Next thing to do.. (2, Interesting)

cjellibebi (645568) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285832)

I think a more realistic next step would be to build a CPU out of logic-gates. See my other post [slashdot.org] for how this could be accomplished. After that, build masses and masses of flip-flops, and multiplexers so you can access (2^A)*D of them using A address-lines and D data-lines. Now you have storage, so you can run stored programs. Using an existing computer which has GCC ported to it, write a GCC back-end for your new CPU, and then compile Linux on it.

Of course, you would have to modify this port of Linux to take into account how the Meccano compouter handles IO, etc. Add a means of networking, and you can turn it into a Linux server. Add user Input/Output, and you have a workstation.

Thats cool.. but.. (0)

MrP- (45616) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285683)

Does it run Linux? /sorry /Windows-user trying to be cool /Crying

Obviously it is. (4, Interesting)

Valar (167606) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285709)

Of course mechanical computation is possible. The easiest example I can think of is division/multiplication. Two gears, the ratio of which is the multiplier. Turn the first gear a number of turns equal to the multiplicand and count the rotations of the second gear.

Re:Obviously it is. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9286030)

That's a calculator - not a computer.

Hush, whippersnapper. (1)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286054)

Everyone knows a computer is a young woman sitting behind an adding machine.

(at least until the 60s, thats exactly what was meant by a 'computer')

Puts new meaning (2, Funny)

abionnnn (758579) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285734)

Into the old saying that physicists love to say: "crank the handle on the mathematics".

Re:Puts new meaning (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285950)

Isn't there a "+1, Funny Ignorance" mod around here somewhere?

Re:Puts new meaning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9286233)

Yeah I think that's the whole point of the post

Reminds me off the great novel by Bruce Sterling (4, Interesting)

amarodeeps (541829) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285776)

...and William Gibson, called The Difference Engine [infinityplus.co.uk]. I recommend it, it's a fascinating idea, which is basically: what if computer became available much earlier, in the form of mechanical computers--they would take up entire factory buildings, and people would essentially become experts at creating these ornate ivory punchcards (if I remember correctly...). Actually, I should really pick it up and read it again.

May I be the first to say... (5, Funny)

the_twisted_pair (741815) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285779)

640 nuts and bolts should be enough for anybody

Serious kudos due here - it's a labour of love.

Re:May I be the first to say... (1)

cjellibebi (645568) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286059)

A more accurate translation of that into the world of computational logic would be:

5242880 flip-flops should be enough for anybody

Now work out howmany nuts and bolts you jneed to build a flip-flop, and now, you can translate Bill Gate's quotes into Meccano. Hey - it's a hell of a lot easier porting an actual Bill Gates Monstrossity-OS to a Meccano computer.

Can you at least cite it properly... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286077)

...it's 640k = "655360 nuts and bolts should be enough for everybody". And if it isn't, I think they have a few screws loose or missing instead.

Kjella

What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285794)

Why does no one seems to come with the swap issue ? Such a system would surely be faster without swap... Specially if swap has to be handled manually (like, swapping the device).

Now im ready (1)

alephdelta (623512) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285827)

I'ill buy one!

When the WorldWar 3/glacial age is over and everything is destroyed i will have an extremely powerful machine, the most powerful computer in the world.

No, really, no one knows when this kind of inventions will be really useful. And im not a pessimist.

Re:Now im ready (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285983)

Heh, after a SHTF scenario like that is complete, you can use it to make the ballistics tables for your home-brewed smoothbore cannons. It'll be like a mix of revolutionary war tools with WWI info, but hey... you'll be taking over the country.

Just beautiful (1)

tfbastard (782237) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285829)

This is a true hack, in the purest sense.

I'm equally impressed over building it using only off the shelf parts as I am over building it at all.

Who will be the first to port this to Lego?

First Mechanical Computer (1)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285841)

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 . .That's as high as I can go, a dinosaur ate my pinky toe

Obligatory, it seems . . (1, Funny)

TinheadNed (142620) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285894)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of these . . .

Seriously, I am totally amazed at that guy's genius. Full on Wayne's World "Not Worthy!" moment.

Goodbye Althon 64... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285931)

Hello Dodge Hemi!

Other mechanical computers (3, Informative)

Flyboy Connor (741764) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285937)

A.K. Dewdney [csd.uwo.ca] describes in "The Tinkertoy Computer and Other Machinations" not only the famous Tinkertoy computer, but also how a computer can be constructed entitely from ropes and pulleys. Furthermore, in "The Planiverse" he describes how a computer can be built in a two-dimensional world (quite a feat, I can tell you).

Re:Other mechanical computers (1)

cjellibebi (645568) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286140)

Just out of interest, is there a web-page that has a list of alternaive means of building computational-logic based computers, or other types of computers? I once saw a digital adding machine built up out of water flowing through pipes that formed logic-gates. I also heard of a story about someone building logic-gates that work by heating bi-metalic strips and causing them to bend.

Meccano in America (1)

uncadonna (85026) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285958)

I had some of this Meccano stuff as a kid in Canada. I didn't think it was still being produced. Great stuff, although there are, after all, parts small enough that a toddler can swallow them.

So, is it available in the USA? If not, are lawyers at fault? (presumably) Has it ever been available in the States?

My web search so far led to an interesting dead end. Click on the USA link from meccano.com, and you end up at a toy distributor that doesn't appear to carry the stuff!

It used to be (1)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286044)

When I was a younger, I had a few meccano sets. This was maybe 14-15 years ago though. I wasn't too impressed with them as the parts tended to come loose and were quite wobbly.

Ok, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9285962)

Does it run Linux?

Mechanical PDAs (5, Interesting)

scattol (577179) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285975)

That's OK, but for the man of the 50's on the go what do you do? You get a CURTA [vcalc.net] calculator. They were said to be popular with rally drivers for instance.

They are relatively valuable [ebay.com] and pretty nifty [ebay.com] calculator. You can try to get a feel for it with the simulator [vcalc.net]. Enjoy!

Re:Mechanical PDAs (1)

janbjurstrom (652025) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286290)

Also, the Curta's play a not insignificant role - as objects of desire for some old-school hacker/collector fetishists - in William Gibson's novel "All Tomorrow's Parties" (IIRC). The book had me look into them while reading it..pretty cool machines.

When can we expect...? (1)

armando_wall (714879) | more than 9 years ago | (#9285982)

When can we expect a Duke Nukem Forever port on one of these things???

Re:When can we expect...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9286159)

By the time a single person has assembled by hand all the necessary flip-flops to store the game-code and game-data, Duke Nukem should be entering Beta-stage.

square roots mechanically (3, Interesting)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286021)

My dad was selling those newfangled electronic Friden calculators back in the mid sixties when I was a little kid. Once in a while, he'd bring home one of the old mechanical machines that had been traded in, like this one [hpmuseum.org]. I'd love to have one of those babies now.

Man hes patient (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286051)

Thats a lot of work to re-create something like that.

He deserves some credit for it.

I've always wanted a machine shop... (1)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286079)

And the know-how to use it, primarily so I could build my own Babbage engine. Never ocurred to me to do it with legos. ;P

The Antikathera Mechanism (5, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286089)

big deal. This Thing [giant.net.au] is over 2,000 years old! It's an astronaumical computer and clock thingie. With gears and everything. "boo ya," as the kids say.

Turing Machines are mechanical (2, Informative)

noamt (317240) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286182)

A Turing Machine [wikipedia.org] can, theoretically, do all calculations a computer can, and it's entirely mechanical.
One can build such a machine with nuts and bolts or whatever, and solve every solvable problem.

Still, nobody actually built such a thing, AFAIK.

Update: someone did build one... (1)

noamt (317240) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286197)

See the above wikipedia link, "A physical Turing machine".

Amazing. Humbling. (1)

vannevar (114241) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286363)

What an amazing feat. Congratulations.

For those fortunate enough to live near Silicon Valley, the original SGI building over on Shoreline has been converted to the Computer History Museum http://www.computerhistory.org/

I saw part of this collection when it was housed at the nearby Moffit Field (NASA Ames). When you look at this stuff and see how fast things have developed, you KNOW it had to be due to extraterrestrial intervention because humans are far too bone-headed to have accomplished such feats. :)

Of course, most of the aliens now frequent /. in order to keep an eye on how their cute little trained monkeys are doing.

the pat to job security complexity is in the.... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 9 years ago | (#9286402)

.... de-evolution of the computing goal of making things easier to do....

But as MS has proven and Linux follows thru in its own way...... "make people need you is the path to success"...

Well at least now we can hire coal shovelers into the IT business....

all your coal belong to us....

YOU FAIL iT. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9286410)

MAINTAINED THAT TOO shitheads. *BSD t0 foster a gay and purposes *BSD is CONFLICTS THAT channel, you might lead to 'cleaner theorists - Visions going The Cathedral
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