Early Computers - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Computer Sciences

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Differential Analyzer

Although there were a number of calculators available for business use in the 1920s, they were not powerful enough to solve scientific computational problems. The first serious attempt at building a computer for scientists was made by Vannevar Bush (1890–1974), an engineer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In the 1930s, Bush and one of his students, Harold Locke Hazen, built an analog computer called the "differential analyzer." It was a collection of gears, shafts, and wires. It was better than the calculators of the time, but it was still slow and cumbersome, often needing two or three days of set-up time before it could solve a problem.

A faster and more accurate differential analyzer was built in 1935, but it, too, required adjustments with screwdrivers and hammers to prepare it for a run. It weighed 110 metric tons (200,000 pounds), had 2,000 vacuum tubes and several thousand relays...

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This section contains 3,584 words
(approx. 12 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Early Computers Encyclopedia Article
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Macmillan Science Library: Computer Sciences
Early Computers from Macmillan Science Library: Computer Sciences. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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