Discussion:
As We May Think--early computer article 1945
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h***@bbs.cpcn.com
2020-09-11 18:53:00 UTC
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In 1945 chief scientist Vannevar Bush wrote an article
on the future of mechanized information processing.

I believe Bush invented the analog computer.

LIFE magazine published an excerpt. It may be
viewed here:
https://books.google.com/books?id=uUkEAAAAMBAJ&lpg=PA118&dq=life%20%22as%20we%20may%20think%22&pg=PA112#v=onepage&q&f=false

(Same issue has an illustrated piece on occupation of Japan.)
Quadibloc
2020-09-11 22:28:24 UTC
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Post by h***@bbs.cpcn.com
I believe Bush invented the analog computer.
That depends on how you define 'analog computer', since some would dignify the
Gunter scale and William Oughtred's invention by that name. However, the
differential analyzer of Vannevar Bush, unlike, say, a mechanical tide predictor
(another much earlier device sometimes called an analog computer) was very much
a mechanical device that had the same functionality as an electronic analog
computer: through feedback between functions, functions of those functions, adn
integrals or differentials of those functions, it could produce an analog
solution to a differential equation.

A tide predictor, on the other hand, just cranks out numerical values for a
Fourier series that is already known; the differential analyzer solved problems
where the solution was not known.

So there is definitely a sense in which the Bush differential analyzer was the
first 'real' analog computer.

John Savard
J. Clarke
2020-09-12 00:52:13 UTC
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On Fri, 11 Sep 2020 15:28:24 -0700 (PDT), Quadibloc
Post by Quadibloc
Post by h***@bbs.cpcn.com
I believe Bush invented the analog computer.
That depends on how you define 'analog computer', since some would dignify the
Gunter scale and William Oughtred's invention by that name. However, the
differential analyzer of Vannevar Bush, unlike, say, a mechanical tide predictor
(another much earlier device sometimes called an analog computer) was very much
a mechanical device that had the same functionality as an electronic analog
computer: through feedback between functions, functions of those functions, adn
integrals or differentials of those functions, it could produce an analog
solution to a differential equation.
A tide predictor, on the other hand, just cranks out numerical values for a
Fourier series that is already known; the differential analyzer solved problems
where the solution was not known.
So there is definitely a sense in which the Bush differential analyzer was the
first 'real' analog computer.
According to wiki Lord Kelvin and his brother James Thompson published
a description of a device that is identifiably a differential analyzer
in 1876. Machines derived from this work were, as you said, used as
tide predictors but also were the first computers used to direct naval
gunfire, and were in use for that purpose in 1916.
Post by Quadibloc
John Savard
Bob Eager
2020-09-12 09:25:30 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
Post by h***@bbs.cpcn.com
I believe Bush invented the analog computer.
That depends on how you define 'analog computer', since some would
dignify the Gunter scale and William Oughtred's invention by that name.
However, the differential analyzer of Vannevar Bush, unlike, say, a
mechanical tide predictor (another much earlier device sometimes called
an analog computer) was very much a mechanical device that had the same
functionality as an electronic analog computer: through feedback between
functions, functions of those functions, adn integrals or differentials
of those functions, it could produce an analog solution to a
differential equation.
A tide predictor, on the other hand, just cranks out numerical values
for a Fourier series that is already known; the differential analyzer
solved problems where the solution was not known.
So there is definitely a sense in which the Bush differential analyzer
was the first 'real' analog computer.
According to wiki Lord Kelvin and his brother James Thompson published a
description of a device that is identifiably a differential analyzer in
1876. Machines derived from this work were, as you said, used as tide
predictors but also were the first computers used to direct naval
gunfire, and were in use for that purpose in 1916.
I went to a demo of a Meccano replica of the Hartree differential
analyser. I'm in some of the videos (in a blue and white checked short!).

It's fascinating.



(actually the second part, the first is mainly a lecture).
--
Using UNIX since v6 (1975)...

Use the BIG mirror service in the UK:
http://www.mirrorservice.org
Niklas Karlsson
2020-09-12 10:39:09 UTC
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Post by J. Clarke
According to wiki Lord Kelvin and his brother James Thompson published
a description of a device that is identifiably a differential analyzer
in 1876. Machines derived from this work were, as you said, used as
tide predictors but also were the first computers used to direct naval
gunfire, and were in use for that purpose in 1916.
Where do submarine torpedo data computers fit into this? They were
widely used in WWII, at the very least.

Niklas
--
} >A manual has, at least, some basis in fact,
} Erm, excuse me?
Usually, the name of the program matches the manual's title page.
-- DPM, Patrick R. Wade and Rik Steenwinkel in asr
J. Clarke
2020-09-12 14:02:37 UTC
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Post by Niklas Karlsson
Post by J. Clarke
According to wiki Lord Kelvin and his brother James Thompson published
a description of a device that is identifiably a differential analyzer
in 1876. Machines derived from this work were, as you said, used as
tide predictors but also were the first computers used to direct naval
gunfire, and were in use for that purpose in 1916.
Where do submarine torpedo data computers fit into this? They were
widely used in WWII, at the very least.
The TDC that the US Navy used would be another example. However I
believe that that development started around the same time that
Vannever Bush was demonstrating his machine, so I wasn't counting it
as prior art.
h***@bbs.cpcn.com
2020-09-18 19:24:14 UTC
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Post by Quadibloc
Post by h***@bbs.cpcn.com
I believe Bush invented the analog computer.
That depends on how you define 'analog computer', since some would dignify the
Gunter scale and William Oughtred's invention by that name. However, the
differential analyzer of Vannevar Bush, unlike, say, a mechanical tide predictor
(another much earlier device sometimes called an analog computer) was very much
a mechanical device that had the same functionality as an electronic analog
computer: through feedback between functions, functions of those functions, adn
integrals or differentials of those functions, it could produce an analog
solution to a differential equation.
A company, EAI, made analog computers for many years.
Their section on bitsavers contains a ton of material
describe technology, what kinds of problems could
be solved them, and other information. Neat color
pictures in their catalogs. Better brush up on
your differential equations first!

http://bitsavers.org/pdf/eai/


Brochure with neat photos
http://bitsavers.org/pdf/eai/16-231R/EAI.231R.1961.102646219.pdf

Sample application brief: Oxygen dynamics
http://bitsavers.org/pdf/eai/applicationsLibrary/7.4.10a_Simulation_of_Oxygen_Dynamics_1964.pdf
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