A mechanical computer is built from mechanical components such as levers and gears, rather than electronic components. The most common examples are adding machines and mechanical counters, which use the turning of gears to increment output displays. More complex examples could carry out multiplication and division—Friden used a moving head which paused at each column—and even differential analysis. One model[which?] sold in the 1960s calculated square roots.
Mechanical computers reached their zenith during World War II, when they formed the basis of complex bombsights including the Norden, as well as the similar devices for ship computations such as the US Torpedo Data Computer or British Admiralty Fire Control Table. Noteworthy are mechanical flight instruments for early spacecraft, which provided their computed output not in the form of digits, but through the displacements of indicator surfaces. From Yuri Gagarin's first manned spaceflight until 2002, every manned Soviet and Russian spacecraft Vostok, Voskhod and Soyuz was equipped with a Globus instrument showing the apparent movement of the Earth under the spacecraft through the displacement of a miniature terrestrial globe, plus latitude and longitude indicators.
Mechanical computers continued to be used into the 1960s, but were quickly replaced by electronic calculators, which—with cathode-ray tube output—emerged in the mid-1960s. The evolution culminated in the 1970s with the introduction of inexpensive handheld electronic calculators. Mechanical computers were ailing in the 1970s and dead by the 1980s.
- The Antikythera mechanism, c. 100 BC
- Pascaline, 1642 – Blaise Pascal's arithmetic machine primarily intended as an adding machine which could add and subtract two numbers directly, as well as multiply and divide by repetition.
- Stepped Reckoner, 1672 – Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz's mechanical calculator that could add, subtract, multiply, and divide.
- Difference Engine, 1822 – Charles Babbage's mechanical device to calculate polynomials.
- Analytical Engine, 1837 – A later Charles Babbage device that could be said to encapsulate most of the elements of modern computers.
- Ball-and-disk integrator, 1886 - William Thomson used it in his Harmonic Analyser to measure tide heights by calculating coefficients of a Fourier series.
- Marchant Calculator, 1918 – Most advanced of the mechanical calculators. The key design was by Carl Friden.
- Kerrison Predictor ("late 1930s" ?)
- Z1, 1938 by Konrad Zuse
- Mark I Fire Control Computer, deployed by the United States Navy during World War II (1939 to 1945) and up to 1969 or later.
- Curta calculator, 1948
- Moniac, 1949 – An analog computer used to model or simulate the UK economy.
- Voskhod Spacecraft "Globus" IMP navigation instrument, early 1960s
- Digi-Comp I, 1963, an educational 3-bit digital computer
- Dr. NIM, mid 1960s, a mechanical computer that plays the game Nim
- Digi-Comp II, mid 1960s, a rolling ball digital computer
- Automaton – Mechanical devices that, in some cases, can store data and perform calculations, and perform other complicated tasks.
Early electrically powered computers constructed from switches and relays rather than vacuum tubes (thermionic valves) or transistors (from which later electronic computers were constructed) are classified as electro-mechanical computers. These varied greatly in design and capabilities, with some later units capable of floating point arithmetic. Some relay-based computers remained in service after the development of vacuum-tube computers, where their slower speed was compensated for by good reliability; some models were built as duplicate processors to detect errors, or could detect errors and retry the instruction. A few models were sold commercially with multiple units produced, but many designs were experimental one-off productions.
|Automatic Relay Computer||UK||1947||The Booths, experimental|||
|Harwell computer||UK||1951||later known as WITCH|
|Harvard Mark I||USA||1944||(IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator)|
|Harvard Mark II||USA||1947|
|Imperial College Computing Engine (ICCE)||UK||1947|
|Office of Naval Research ONR Relay Computer||US||1951||Drum storage, but relay ALU, formerly Navy cryptology computer ABEL|| |
|OPREMA||East Germany||1955||Commercial use at Zeiss Optical in Jena|||
|RVM-1||Soviet Union||1957||Alexander Kronrod|||
|Simon (computer)||USA||1950||Hobbyist logic demonstrator magazine article|
|Z2 (computer)||Germany||1939||Konrad Zuse|
|Z11 (computer)||Germany||1955||Zuse, commercial|
|Bell Labs Model I||USA||1937||George Stibitz, "Complex Number Calculator",450 relays and cross bar switches, demonstrated remote access 1940, used till 1948|||
|Bell Labs Model II||USA||1943||"Relay Interpolator", used for wartime work, shut down 1962|||
|Bell Labs Model III||USA||1944||"Ballistic Computer", used till 1949|||
|Bell Labs Model IV||USA||1944||Navy "Mark 22 Error Detector", used till 1961|||
|Bell Labs Model V||USA||1946, 1947||Two units delivered, general purpose, built in trig functions, floating point|||
|Bell Labs Model VI||USA||1950||General purpose,|||
|Relay Computer||USA||2006||Harry Porter's Relay Computer, demonstrator/hobby, but integrated circuit memory.|||
See also Relay logic
- Hall, Loura (2016-04-01). "Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE)". NASA. Retrieved 2017-08-29.
- Herman H. Goldstine, The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann, Princeton University Press, 2008 ISBN 1400820138, page 349
- http://museum.ipsj.or.jp/en/computer/dawn/0008.html Fujitsu Facom 100, retrieved 2017 Jul 26
- http://museum.ipsj.or.jp/en/computer/dawn/0012.html FACOM 128A and 128B Relay Computers, retrieved 2017 July 26
- David L. Boslaugh When Computers Went to Sea: The Digitization of the United States Navy page 95
- https://www.jstor.org/stable/2002264?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents The Office of Naval Research Relay Computer, abstract, retrieved 2017 July 25
- Dolores L. Augustine, Red Prometheus: Engineering and Dictatorship in East Germany, 1945-1990MIT Press, 2007 ISBN 0262012367, page 134
- http://informatic.ugatu.ac.ru/resources/museum/english/pbm-1.htm Relay Computer RVM-1, retrieved 2017 July 25
- Jack Belzer, Albert G. Holzman, Allen Kent (ed), Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology Volume 3, CRC Press, 1976 ISBN 0824722531 pages 197-200
- http://web.cecs.pdx.edu/~harry/Relay/ Harry Porter's Relay Computer retrieved 2017 July 26