The Power of Modern Computing, Pt. 2

Following in the spirit of my earlier post, here’s an excellent example of how far computers have come from the days of their infancy. The picture above is from an article in the January 14, 1946 issue of Life Magazine. A colleague of mine was kind enough to clip it out and pass it along to me. It is a picture of MIT’s “Electro-Mechanical Brain” that the military used to solve the differential equations involved in calculating the paths of artillery shells.

Consider these stats: the “Differential Analyzer” weighed 100 tons; it used 2,000 electronic tubes (remember, this was years before the transistor was available); it had 200 miles of wiring, and 150 electric motors!

My students’ $80 hand-held graphing calculators have far more computing power than this behemoth, and a typical smart phone is light-years beyond it.

You can see more pictures and read the entire article by clicking on the thumbnails below.


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