Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Want One

Microsoft's former chief of technology has commissioned the construction (for a cool million dollars) of Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2, what would have been, had it been built in its time, the world's first computer, capable of computing polynomial calculations of over 30 digits. In analog. 8,000 moving parts, which when cranked by hand spool out calculations on paper tape. It's a work of art, it really is, and if any of my readers make it out to Silicon Valley in the next year it's on display, I think it'd be worth seeing.

3 comments:

elephantschild said...

Yawn.

Pipe organs of the 18th century had mechanical combination memory.

Shane said...

Nitpick time - The difference engine is digital and not analog. It's mechanical rather than electronic, but digital nonetheless.

Evan said...

Shoot, you're right. I guess I got ahead of myself.